BBC Radio 4 Extra, 10 May 2011
Set in Greece during the middle of the last century, "The Story of a Siren" was a
tale told by a young Sicilian to the (ostensibly British) narrator about the Sicilian's encounter with the mythical figure;
part-human, part-mermaid, they are the Muses of the lower world, knowing both the past and the future.
Read by Dan Stevens, this tale treated the siren as both romantic yet dangerous -
a figure promising dreams of untold wealth and happiness, but only if the young Sicilian renounces life. The Sicilian rejects
the offer, but not without a considerable degree of soul-searching. The entire experience, for the narrator, is something
completely beyond his comprehension; having spent most of life in the comfortable environs of suburban England, he has no
knowledge of Greek culture, other than from retold myths. His direct encounter with the Sicilian brings the experience alive
for him in vivid, glorious colour.
"The Story of the Sicilian" poses the question of whether it is best to follow a
life of sterile conformity or opt for a more sensual life, commonly associated with the Mediterranean and the siren.
Having rejected the siren's offer, the Sicilian ends up feeling rather depressed, which left me wondering (like the narrator)
whether he had made the right decision.
The producer of this haunting little tale was Elizabeth Allard.