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Nathalie Léger is the award-winning author of Suite for Barbara Loden and Exposition, as well as an editor and archivist. She has curated exhibitions on Roland Barthes and Samuel Beckett for the Centre Pompidou, and is Director of the Institut Mémoires de l’Édition Contemporaine, an organization dedicated to preserving the archives of modern French writers.

Natasha Lehrer is an award-winning writer and translator from French.

pages: 128

format: paperback original

isbn: 978-1-948980-05-0

publication date: September 15, 2020

The White Dress

Nathalie Léger

Translated by Natasha Lehrer

“Léger’s standout conclusion to her trilogy of meditations on the lives of women.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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The White Dress is the third in Nathalie Léger’s award-winning triptych of books about women who “through their oeuvre, transform their lives into a mystery” (ELLE). In Exposition, Léger wrote about the Countess of Castiglione, the most photographed woman of the nineteenth century; in Suite for Barbara Loden she took up the actress and filmmaker Barbara Loden; here, Léger grapples with the tragic 2008 death of Italian performance artist Pippa Bacca, who was raped and murdered while hiking from Italy to the Middle East in a wedding dress to promote world peace. A harrowing meditation on the risks women encounter, in life and in art, The White Dress also brings to a haunting conclusion Léger’s personal interrogation—sustained across all three books—of her relationship with her mother and the desire for justice in our lives.


“The White Dress shows Léger doing something new. Her melodious intertwining of another’s story with her own recalls her other works, but this is an altogether darker, altogether more unashamedly melancholic exploration of narrative [. . .] Léger’s message seems to be that to immerse oneself in other people’s stories, whether out of pity or simple escapism, is only to find a projection of one’s own life.” Charlie Stone, The Arts Desk

“I’ve just re-read Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger, translated by Cécile Menon and Natasha Lehrer, as well as the two forthcoming books that form a trilogy with that one: The White Dress, also translated by Lehrer, and Exposition, translated by Amanda Demarco. All three defy categorisation—history, essay, memoir, fiction. I admire the wholeness and agility of these works very much.” Catherine Lacey 

“Nathalie Léger is a melancholy sentinel. From book to book she writes with a hunter’s instinct, questioning the motives of women who, through their oeuvre, transform their lives into a mystery.” —ELLE (France)

“More than just an exploration of a violent news story, The White Dress performs a subtle set of variations on the theme of remnants, of the ghosts that live within us.” Le Monde des livres

“The White Dress inspects the imaginary frontier between art and life.” Libération

“Readers should not miss this smart, skillful reckoning with acts of selflessness, betrayal, and grief.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)


Praise for Nathalie Léger’s Suite for Barbara Loden:

“Here, now, is a remarkable new book that does everything—biography, criticism, film history, memoir, and even fiction, all at once, all out in front. . . . In her combination of the conversational and the incantatory, the fragmentary and the infinite, Léger captures something of [Marguerite] Duras’s own tones and moods, yet her approach to Loden and her appreciation of “Wanda” are entirely her own.” Richard Brody, The New Yorker 

“Assigned to write the entry about Wanda (1970), Barbara Loden’s art-house movie, for a film encyclopedia, Léger let herself get lost. The result gracefully melds criticism, fiction, and autobiography, and is a powerful example of how summary, channeled through the most personal of perspectives, can be a form of art.” Christine Smallwood, Harper’s Magazine