The translator and Prospect contributor Sally Laird died of cancer in Aarhus on July 15, aged 54. She had been living in Denmark for many years, where her husband Mark Le Fanu (the author of this tribute) held a post at the European Film College. Two of her recent articles treated of her adopted country: the first, in July 2003, an account of the Danish hospital system, written with an insider’s knowledge (over the years recurring bouts of erysipelas had made her a frequent patient); the second, in August 2008, a delightfully nuanced essay on why the Danes have continuously come top of the charts as the world’s happiest nation—a somewhat surprising finding on the face of it, in view of their gloomy reputation. Sally was a beautiful writer, and both articles display her customary kindliness and wisdom; she had little time for sociological platitudes. What she appreciated about the Danes was their ceremoniousness, their civilized restraint, and, crucially in the happiness stakes, their wry and witty refusal to expect too much out of life.
Sally Laird: a tribute
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