Notes on the Text
In One Version of the Story is a lyric exploration of the ways human beings confront desire, loss and absence by creating stories. Its narrative situation begins with from the French folk legend of “l’Inconnue de la Seine”—the unidentified young woman who drowned herself in Paris in the 1880s, and whose (unauthorized) death mask was eventually cast as the face of Resusci-Anne CPR training dummies—but eventually the book encompasses a chronicle of personal loss, a history of photography, a study of the mechanics of breathing, and a solo climb to the rim of a Mediterranean volcano.
The book is a hybrid of narrative history, lyric meditation, and journalistic investigation, often implicating the speaker (and reader) in the act of mythmaking itself. It is story-making itself which is interrogated here, however the book seeks not to recreate narratives, but rather to understand why they matter—why and how we give them the meaning that we do.
Ophelia of the Seine, Angelique Crisafis (The Guardian 2007)
Death Masks, Podcast on l’Inconnue de la Seine (Radiolab 2011)
The Drowned Muse: Casting the Unknown Woman Across the Tides of Modernity, Anne-Gaelle Saliot (Oxford Press 2015)