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'At least I was not married to Vidiadhar'


Animal spirits
Diana Athill Writer
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We used to talk about him and why he suffered so much. And I said, 'But don't you just… can't you just feel, you know, when you go to bed into a nice warm bed, it's a lovely feeling, or you look out of the window and it's a sunny day, it's nice. You know, or I'm eating a peach, it's delicious'. And he said, 'Do you really? Do you… do you actually get enough out of, can you feel enough to feel life's worth living from that sort of thing?' And I said, 'Yes, I can'. And he said, 'I can't'. He lacked what I felt was… what people used to call in the old days 'animal spirits'. He just hadn't got that to buoy him up.

[Q] But you have?

I have, yes.

[Q] What are animal spirits?

Well, it's just that one's got the sort of resilience or ability to enjoy life. On the whole, one likes life, rather than not liking it. And on the whole, Vidiadhar doesn't like life.

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: VS Naipaul

Duration: 1 minute, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2008

Date story went live: 23 December 2008