Elena Ferrante:’ Nothing is comparable to the joy of bringing another living creature into the world’


Men have always been jealous of that experience which is ours alone

I was a terrible mom, a great mother. Pregnancy alterations everything: our body, our feelings, the hierarchical order of “peoples lives”. The convention by which we have always considered ourselves one and indivisible fails. Now we have two hearts, all our organs are replicated, our sexuality is doubled- we are female plus female or female plus male. And we are divisible , not metaphorically but in the acute reality of our body.

The first time I got pregnant, it was difficult to accept. Pregnancy was an anxious mental fight. I felt it as the breakdown of an equilibrium already precarious in itself, as a revelation of the animal nature behind the fragile mask of the human. For nine months I was on a seesaw of joy and horror. The birth was terrible, it was wonderful. Taking care of a newborn, by myself, without assist, without fund, exhausted me; I scarcely slept. I wanted to write and there was never hour. Or if there was some, I would concentrate for a few minutes and then fall asleep fretfully. Until slowly everything began to seem to me marvellous. Today I think that nothing is comparable to the joy, the pleasure, of bringing another living beast into the world.

Of course, it took a lot of time away from my passion for writing. As a girl I’d imagined myself without children, wholly absorbed by my own yearnings. I admired women who were childless by choice, and I still understand the rejection of maternity. What I can no longer tolerate is the lack of understanding for women who do everything possible to get pregnant. In the past I had an ironic attitude, I guessed: if you want children so much, adopt them. Today I think that the most extraordinary thing in my life was to conceive and give birth.

Men have always been jealous of that experience which is ours alone, and often dreamed- in myths, in certain rites- of forms of male pregnancy. Not only that: they immediately appropriated conception and birth metaphorically. They conceive ideas, give birth to works. And they have persuaded us that since we already had the animal privilege of maternity, the profoundly human prerogative of dedicating form to the world through sublime runs was theirs alone.

But now we are demonstrating that we, too, are capable of metaphoric births, shadows are looming over maternity that seem to me threatening. A uterus can be bought. And among the countless prosthetic devices that will advance the connotations of the human there is one, the artificial uterus, that they are able to free us from the annoyances of pregnancy.

I believe that in this case we should absolutely not be freed. Children are our body’s great, marvellous prostheses, and we will not give them literally to anyone , not to mad parents , not to the country , not even to those machines that promise an inhumanly perfect humanity.

* Translated by Ann Goldstein.

Read more: www.theguardian.com


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