Josephine Hart, author of The Truth About Love, editor of Catching Life by the Throat and Words that Burn died last Thursday. Two of her most powerful novels — Damage and Sin — will be published later this year as Virago Modern Classics.
It is a cliché to say people are a life force, life enhancers, but nothing could be more true of Josephine Hart's. She was inspiring.
She represented a belief in art — poetry in particular. She believed in the beauty and the power of the word. She believed that literature could make a difference, and she was right. There was something elemental about Josephine. Though hugely sophisticated and glamorous and no stranger to the benefits of working a room and making connections, the fact that we all followed so willingly was because of her belief in the power of art. What I loved about Josephine was that she knew what mattered: love, passion, friends. She knew tremendous grief and pain in her life, but she seemed able to draw strength from this pain. She knew what to treasure.
Her novels show she was not afraid of big, unruly, raw — even savage — emotions, the real stuff of human relations. But she wasn't always serious and high-minded. She teased, loved the banter between men and women, had a great warmth and laughed very easily. What I think she shared with the world was a special appreciation — for poetry, for intelligence, for people (she was so generous on this front) and for words, words, words. She believed they could teach and heal and thrill and amuse and make it all worth while. She was right, but in no small part because of the words she herself delivered.
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