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Who is Elena Ferrante? Cogito analyzes her language

Expert.ai Team - 23 May 2017

Who is elena Ferrante? The Italian writer who has sold millions of copies in Italy and around the world signs her name as Elena Ferrante, but everyone knows that this name is just a nome de plume, fantasy.

While readers, fans and critics wonder and speculate who Elena Ferrante really is, her identity remains a mystery. Expert System is also curious about the author’s true identity, so we’ve decided to investigate her language (without delving into matters of privacy). We used Cogito, our cognitive technology, to analyze the style of several authors often compared to Ferrante and compare their words, as used in their published works, with Ferrante’s style.

Cogito is able to understand the concept of a phrase and the meaning or sense of words. It also has the ability to gather the similarities and differences between texts or speeches, analyzing style, tone, word usage and their complexity. Expert System’s research is based on the analysis of the following five categories in each author’s works: legibility, text structure, lexical richness, grammatical characteristics and register.


Comparing Elena Ferrante’s style with that of other authors

The authors Anita Raja, Domenico Starnone, Marco Santagata and Goffredo Fofi are the candidates behind which (according to many) lies the real identity of Elena Ferrante. The result of our research reveals that, on the whole, Domenico Starnone’s works are stylistically and linguistically in line with Ferrante’s. Starnone has the highest percentage of similarity with the books of the mysterious writer, followed by Santagata, Raja and Fofi.

Download the report

However, if we consider the analyzed categories individually, we notice that Starnone is not always the closest to Ferrante’s style. For example, if we consider the texts in terms of only readability and simplicity, then it is Santagata who shows greater similarity to Ferrante. Even from the point of view of grammatical richness, Marco Santagata is a closer match.

The other two writers in our analysis were found to have fewer similiarities. Although Anita Raja has always been suspect number one, her style was determined to be quite different from that of Ferrante, with writer Goffredo Fofi as the most different.

The Expert System analysis includes graphs that show the percentage of similarities of each author with Ferrante. While we can conclude (based on the analysis) that Starnone and Santagata are linguistically and stylistically similar to Ferrante, this does not necessarily bring us closer to knowing exactly who is there are hiding behind the Ferrante name.

Perhaps the mystery of this identity is just another factor that makes Elena Ferrante’s books so compelling for us readers.