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This report is taken from PN Review 134, Volume 26 Number 6, July - August 2000.

Two or Three Things I Knew About Her Robyn Marsack

I've been reading obituaries for years. I am captivated by those deft sentences that give the life-force of the person, the action or phrase that quickens him or her - oh grave, where is thy victory? - in the imagination of the stranger. I like the practice of patchwork obituaries, where the balanced overview is rebalanced by different, sidelong views. The whole work of memorialising is the opposite of marmorealising.

Thus I was both glad and apprehensive to be asked to write Lauris Edmond's obituary. It would be anonymous, and no one else would add comments. It couldn't take for granted any knowledge of the subject (indeed, I overestimated the knowledge of geography: 'Flying home from Menton', I wrote - 'Where's Menton?' the editor queried). What emerged - and I cannot blame this on the editor - was a more formal, cooler assessment than I'd have wished. It seemed to me the only service I could render her at this distance, but it fell short. Writing here allows me to make amends. The italicised extracts that follow are what appeared in the newspaper.

Returning home in 1982 after a year as the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellow in Menton in the South of France, Lauris Edmond had a sharp new consciousness of her nationality: 'Simply by the act of separation I had made my own country a single whole, round and complete and graspable at the end of the long corridor of distance.'

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