Monday, 3 February 2014

Century-old Mysteries: L'Inconnue de la Sienne. A guest post by Georgina Morales

There's nothing quite like the lasting allure of an unanswered question. As a society, we find peace in the idea that there's no mystery too deep for us to unravel. We have advanced, complex minds, science, and centuries of evolution on our side. Yet, there are some answers we will never know. Therein lies the enticing nature of mysteries and our tendency to look at them like puzzles begging to be completed.

There are famous mysteries like who was Jack the Ripper or who thought remaking Footloose was a good idea, but I'm not one to go down the well-trodden path. Instead, I like to shine a light on small, creepy roads most have never known. Such is the story of L'Inconnue de la Sienne.

Translated from French, "The Unknown Woman From the Sienna" became famous in the late 1880s when her dead body was found floating on the River Sienna. No one ever claimed the young girl's corpse and thus her identity remained a mystery. However, the Parisian pathologist in charge of the body, awe-struck at her beauty, decided to make a plaster-cast death mask. And so, where the earthly life of the unknown girl finished, the bizarre, immortal existence of L'Inconnue began.

Soon, more plasters were made of her and the bust became a fashionable, morbid fixture of bohemian Paris. The beauty of L'Inconnue inspired world-renown artists and writers, such as Albert Camus and Richard LeGalliene. People wondered, based on the mask's tranquil features, what in death the girl had found and who she might've been in life. Whole generations of women shaped their images on the young girl's (dead) face, and she became the Mona Lisa of the time.

Creepy much? Wait, it gets better.

In an ironic twist the pathologist could have never foreseen, in 1958 the first CPR doll, Rescue Annie, was created using the drowning victim's cast as a model. These days L'Inconnue is also known as "the most kissed face of all time."

Books inspired by this story: The Worshiper of the Image by Richard LeGalliene, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke, The Recognitions by William Gladdis, The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan, and Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, among many others.

About the author:

From early on Georgina Morales felt fascinated by the horror genre. The stunning covers tantalized  
her with promises of endless darkness and obscure tales. While other girls dreamed of becoming princesses, her young mind weaved stories of madness to fit those covers. Years later, after settling in New England, she felt perfectly at home surrounded by dark woods and abandoned buildings. It is from those places and memories that she writes, spinning stories from inside the obscure corridors of the mind where not many venture and very few come out alive.

Her debut novel, PERPETUAL NIGHT, was published in 2011. Since then, her short stories have appeared in several anthologies and magazines. Her latest one is scheduled for release as part of Padwolf Publishing noir anthology LUCKY 13 in April 2014.

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