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The Drowned Muse: Casting the Unknown Woman of the Seine Across the Tides of Modernity - Oxford Modern Languages and Literature Monographs (Hardback)
  • The Drowned Muse: Casting the Unknown Woman of the Seine Across the Tides of Modernity - Oxford Modern Languages and Literature Monographs (Hardback)
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The Drowned Muse: Casting the Unknown Woman of the Seine Across the Tides of Modernity - Oxford Modern Languages and Literature Monographs (Hardback)

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£90.00
Hardback 390 Pages / Published: 10/09/2015
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The Drowned Muse is a study of the extraordinary destiny, in the history of European culture, of an object which could seem, at first glance, quite ordinary in the history of European culture. It tells the story of a mask, the cast of a young girl's face entitled "L'Inconnue de la Seine," the Unknown Woman of the Seine, and its subsequent metamorphoses as a cultural figure. Legend has it that the "Inconnue" drowned herself in Paris at the end of the nineteenth century. The forensic scientist tending to her unidentified corpse at the Paris Morgue was supposedly so struck by her allure that he captured in plaster the contours of her face. This unknown girl, also referred to as "The Mona Lisa of Suicide", has since become the object of an obsessive interest that started in the late 1890s, reached its peak in the 1930s, and continues to reverberate today. Aby Warburg defines art history as "a ghost story for grown-ups." This study is similarly "a ghost story for grown-ups", narrating the aura of a cultural object that crosses temporal, geographical, and linguistic frontiers. It views the "Inconnue" as a symptomatic expression of a modern world haunted by the earlier modernity of the nineteenth century. It investigates how the mask's metamorphoses reflect major shifts in the cultural history of the last two centuries, approaching the "Inconnue" as an entry point to understand a phenomenon characteristic of 20th- and 21st-century modernity: the translatability of media. Doing so, this study mobilizes discourses surrounding the "Inconnue", casting them as points of negotiation through which we may consider the modern age.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198708629
Number of pages: 390
Weight: 630 g
Dimensions: 220 x 148 x 28 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
The Drowned Muse is the ifrst book-length study devoted entirely to the Inconnue. As well as providing an engaging history of the mask, Saliot situates the object as an emblem of modernity, ensuring that her book will be of interest beyond the field of twentieth-century French culture and literature. * Sally Barnden, The Times Literary Supplement *
The book is beautifully written and illustrated, and, in its impeccable scholarship and imaginative conception of this absent but very present figure, allows not only a valuable discussion on the Inconnue to emerge, but also one that makes almost tangible the aesthetics of modernity. * Lise Schreier, Fordham University *

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