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Living with Barry and Sally


Resilient natures
Diana Athill Writer
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Well, you see, I suppose I have, by nature, a fairly optimistic and a resilient nature. It made me think, when I came across that story of that old 103 year-old lady [Alice Herz Sommer], who is still… who had been through infinitely more frightful life than mine, and is still able to say that life is beautiful, life is wonderful. And still plays the piano for three hours a day that, you know, being born with a resilient nature… She had a sister, she said in an interview, who was always unhappy. Always saw the dark side of life. Well, this is what you're born with. One of them was born unhappy, one of them was born able to be resilient. And I think I was born able to be resilient, in the end, because these were fairly sort of squashing blows, but one survived them.

Diana Athill (1917-2019) was a British literary editor whose publishing career began when she helped André Deutsch establish his company. She worked with many notable writers, namely Philip Roth, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean Rhys and VS Naipaul. Following the publication of her memoirs, she came to be hailed as an author in her own right.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: happiness, life, resilience

Duration: 53 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2008

Date story went live: 23 December 2008