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This article is taken from PN Review 216, Volume 40 Number 4, March - April 2014.

‘Daniel, What Have You Done With Your Lions?’: for Daniel Weissbort
A revised and expanded version of a speech made at the funeral of Daniel Weissbort, 29 November 2013
Anthony Rudolf
It is only a few months since Danny Weissbort’s older brother George died and I found myself writing a newspaper obituary (The Independent, 20 September 2013). Now I find myself speaking at the funeral of Danny, a more personal matter than an obituary. Sad as the loss of George was, he lived, and worked at his paintings, until the end. The younger and differently gifted brother endured the tragic and cruel destiny of Alzheimer’s, having survived cancer of the jaw many years earlier. My feelings on learning of the official death of my old comrade – we were friends for nearly fifty years – were inevitably coloured by the mental, emotional and physical disaster which struck him around 2007. Alzheimer’s, not to beat about the bush, was a partial death which only got worse, until the official death seemed like a seal on the truth, social recognition of a longstanding existential reality, a mid-point in the process of mourning rather than an inauguration of that particular psychic space among his intimates.

However, the loss of memory, awareness and identity were not total, not absolute. When visiting Dan in Golders Green and later at Nightingale House in Clapham, on my own or with Elaine Feinstein or Stephen Cang, I would talk to him about aspects of our common past, in particular translating Russian poetry. A mention of Pushkin’s ‘Medny Vsadnik’ (‘Bronze Horseman’) served as a trigger for him to recite parts of it by heart. This great poem had been his last translation. On the final manuscript he describes it as ‘literalistic’, ...

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