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EDITH SOREL: March 13, 1933 - April 11, 2015


We are mourning the death of our friend, Edith Sorel, a marvelous raconteur and journalist whose incredibly prolific professional life spanned the last fifty years of the twentieth century.

She became a personal friend after Paris Play’s May 2011 report on one of her storytelling salons, and we treasure every moment spent since in our apartment or hers, or in various restaurants, just hanging out and talking. She had a wonderfully deep, raspy, scotch-drinking voice, and a knack for distilling her stories into the best character studies of each subject, whether Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, or Ingmar Bergman, or Woody Allen, or Henry Miller, or Picasso.

She was born in the 1930’s, a Jew in Transylvania, and lived in fear under the Nazi (then Hungarian) terror, with her parents paying off the neighbors (time and again) to avoid being reported. That experience of constant fear, and ostracism, sparked in her a tremendous drive to escape that oppression, and she found that escape through learning six languages, and becoming a translator, including eventually for Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

We were lucky enough to accompany her to the premiere of a new film about her life just last year, "Dragon Lady," which is in the final stages of post-production and subtitling.

We cannot begin to do her justice here, but wanted to express our grief and love.


Edith at the premiere of "Dragon Lady."


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Reader Comments (20)

Our hearts are with you -- one of the sorrows of aging along with your friends. You are so fortunate to have had the time and experiences you have had with her! Treasure them.

Sunday, April 12, 2015 at 23:18 | Unregistered CommenterVarya

Thank you so much, Varya and Charles. You're right--losing the people we love is the greatest sorrow of aging.

And we're grateful every day for our friendship with Edith.

Love to you both,

Kaaren and Richard

Sunday, April 12, 2015 at 23:47 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Kaaren and Richard, I am so sorry to hear of your loss--what a beautiful woman, and how fortunate for all of you that you knew each other and were able to enjoy what life you could. I will look for this film. Love to you both, and blessings to her, she who is now truly liberated, and also well missed.

Monday, April 13, 2015 at 7:42 | Unregistered CommenterFrances

Thank you for introducing so many of us to Edith and giving us that amazing experience of traveling through her sweeping history.

Monday, April 13, 2015 at 10:56 | Unregistered CommenterAW

What an honor! Thanks for this introduction to Edith. I'm so sorry for your (and the world's) loss.

Monday, April 13, 2015 at 15:22 | Unregistered CommenterCassandra Lane

Frances, dear friend of many years,

I so appreciate your words. I am grateful for the friendship we had with Edith, and so sad to lose her. She really was a fabulous woman.

Much love,

Kaaren (and Richard)

Monday, April 13, 2015 at 23:36 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Dear Amy,

Thank you so much. Wasn't that an amazing evening when she told her stories to a bunch of us in our living room? What would we do without our inspiring elders? What will we do? I'm so glad you were there.

Much love,

Kaaren and Richard

Monday, April 13, 2015 at 23:39 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Dearest Cassandra,

Your words mean so much. Thank you. I wish you'd met Edith. You two would have loved each other.

Much love,

Kaaren and Richard

Monday, April 13, 2015 at 23:40 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

I re-read this just because it is so marvelous and brings your dear friend to life. For someone who never had the privilege to meet her, in a way I feel I have. Thank you for sharing her with us with this short tribute. Love, Julie

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 6:41 | Unregistered CommenterJulie


Thank you so much. I wish you and Jeff (and Viv) had had the chance to meet Edith. She was a treasure. We'll miss her terribly.

Love and hugs,

Kaaren & Richard

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 15:38 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

I am lucky to have been a part of Edith's Key West Family. She was an exceptional person and we will all miss her and continue to love her.
Your words made me feel closer to her as I had not seen her since my last trip to Paris.
I am very sorry for your loss.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 20:50 | Unregistered CommenterIris Levin

Ah Iris,

Although we haven't met, you are now part of our Paris family, our Edith family. Exceptional is the word. I walked on rue du Dragon tonight and almost fainted with the knowledge that we'll never see her here again.

We hope, as a friend of Edith's, that you also read the earlier post (linked above) about the night we met her at Connie Borde's home.

Maybe we'll see you one day in Paris. You can always reach us through Paris Play.

Best wishes,

Kaaren & Richard

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 22:51 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

HA!! just woke up and realized that your friend, Edith Sorel, was in my dream (I read your post late last night)!

We were in Paris, staying at her busy apartment which was a very run down-but- elegant, high-ceilinged place teaming with guests. All sorts of interesting people, none of whom we knew, were milling about. There was a woman who maybe resembled Vanessa Redgrave, she was telling me about her radical healing regime (wish I could remember what it was!) and a strange Andy Warhol-type guy who was wandering around looking vaguely disapproving. It wasn't a party because everyone was getting ready to go someplace else, like a wedding … it seemed like the people were congregating at Edith's.

She was witty, warm, and welcoming to us, and she was ironing the beautiful little dress that our 2 1/2 year old granddaughter was going to wear to the event. The dress was white with sparkly silver stars all over it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 16:03 | Unregistered CommenterMalika

What a great dream, Malika! I love it.

It dramatizes certain true aspects of Edith: that she was surrounded by interesting people, that her apartment was elegant and filled with paintings signed to her by Chagall and other greats, but the way she entertained was more one on one (or with us, one on two). She loved groups if it was out in the world and she was telling stories to an audience. But she, like Richard and me, was introverted, preferred intimate get-togethers. Not at all a party person. Hated crowds. Got claustrophobic if there were too many people on the sidewalks of Paris. Most of the great people she met were through her work as a journalist, not through partying. She had a great gift for friendship, a great gift for seeing into people. She interviewed Henry Miller in Big Sur when he was in his 80s, and they became instant friends. As far as your dream figures, she was more like Vanessa Redgrave, a person of great substance, less like Andy Warhol (or my impression of him as a bit of a party animal/more about image than substance).

Yes, she was witty, warm and would have LOVED you and Daniel. Yes, she would have loved your grandchild. But never would you have seen her ironing a dress! (I say this with a smile--she wasn't a domestic creature, though her home was so very welcoming and warm.)

Thank you for taking Edith into your dreams. I'm waiting for her to visit me in one.

Much love to you and Daniel,

Kaaren & Richard

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 23:20 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

What an amazing experience it must have been to have had Edith as a friend. I'm really sad to read of your loss.

Much love to you both,

Monday, April 20, 2015 at 6:57 | Unregistered CommenterWendy Pippin

Karen and Richard,
I have read and so enjoyed all of the posts here. I had to laugh at Malika's dream where Edith was ironing, never is right!

i spent a lot of time with Edith during her many visits to Key West and I got to know her very well. Your article and posts remind me of the stories she would tell me, that I had forgotten. She was an amazing person and I will miss her.

We are going to gather some friends for a celebration of Edith's life, at sunset, here in Key West as soon we can get us all together at the same time. I will let you know when so that you can be here with us, in spirit.

Sending love and light.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 0:40 | Unregistered CommenterIris Levin

I saw Edith in September in her apartment in Paris and knew that she is very ill. She was my guide in Paris when I married her cousin and guided me through my PARIS LIFE TILL WE LEFT FOR THE STATES. THAT WAS 55 YEARS AGO. HAD A LOT OF GREAT TIMES WITH HER.Will miss her. She faced her illness with great courage.I am grateful for your reporting since it is how I found out about her passing. Thank you.

Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 16:36 | Unregistered Commenteralice and arthur feuerstein

Gosh, I'm sorry to have missed these last three comments. Richard must have approved them while I was traveling.


Wendy, Thank you so much. I wish you had met Edith.

Much love,
Kaaren & Richard

Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 22:35 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Dear Iris,

Thank you so much for this message of love and appreciation. I see you really did know Edith well.

I spent one summer in Key West, and it is a place that both Edith and I loved, and talked about together.

I hope you get to Paris one of these days and that we can meet. In the meantime, please do let us know if there's a gathering in Key West.

Much love,
Kaaren & Richard

Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 22:39 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Dear Alice and Arthur,

Thank you so much for this message. There was no better guide to Paris than Edith. I wish we'd all met while she was alive. But we'll keep her memory vivid.

And let us know if you get to Paris one of these days. We're grateful for your appreciation.

Kaaren & Richard

Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 22:42 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

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