Jan 11, 2012
A listener named "Ovid" posted an intriguing comment on our Death Mask podcast--about yet another l'inconnue sighting. She lives! (And dies. And lives. Over and over again. And that's why we love her.)
I live in Bagnolet, a Paris suburb.
After listening to the story this past week, I went on one of my regular Sunday strolls at one of the Paris flea markets (Montreuil) near my house. At one of the few stands worth stopping, I stumbled upon a yellow glazed plaster of the "l'Inconnue." It was too weird. I had to buy it! Scotch-taped on its back was a old Figaro newspaper article from 1988. A review of a "new" book by Didier Blonde about this mysterious woman. The article was titled: "Quete et enquete autour de l'Inconnue de la Seine" signed, Jean-Rene Van Der Plaetsen. (He still writes for the Figaro.) Add to that the fact that the sweet old lady - the vendor - wrapped it in a white cloth and placed it in double plastic bags and you have the full picture of my experience.
Ovid's plaster cast:
And a view from the side:
A shot of the back:
The l'Inconnue, is now part of my modest museum of oddities. The more we read about the mystery surrounding this enigmatic figure, the more skeptical we become about the myth that developed around her. From all the conflicting accounts one thing seems to emerge as the more plausible subject of the "mask"- that she was in all likeliness a living person at the time of the cast. But we all love the more nuanced version anyway.
Thank you Radiolab.