Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff
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|Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff|
C.K. Scott Moncrieff painted by Edward Stanley Mercer (1889–1932)
25 September 1889|
|Died||28 February 1930
Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff, MC (25 September 1889 – 28 February 1930) was a Scottish writer, most famous for his English translation of most of Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu, which he published under the Shakespearean title Remembrance of Things Past.
Charles Kenneth Michael Scott Moncrieff was born at Weedingshall, Stirlingshire in 1889, the youngest son of William George (1846-1927), Advocate, Sheriff Substitute, and Jessie Margaret Scott Moncrieff (1858-1936). He had two elder brothers Colin William (1879-1943), the father of the Scottish author and playwright George Scott Moncrieff, and John Irving (1881-1920).
In 1907, while a scholar at Winchester College, Scott Moncrieff met Christopher Sclater Millard, bibliographer of Wildeana and private secretary to Oscar Wilde's literary executor and friend Robert Baldwin Ross.
In 1908, he published a short story, 'Evensong and Morwe Song', in the pageant issue of New Field, a literary magazine of which he was the editor. The story's sensational opening implies fellatio between two boys at a fictional public school 'Gainsborough' but its action principally concerns the hypocrisy of William Carruthers, the elder of the boys, who as headmaster of the same school goes on to expel, for the same offence, the son of the boy he seduced . The story was republished in 1923 by Uranian publisher John Murray in an edition of fifty copies for private circulation only. The magazine was hastily suppressed, but it is unclear whether Scott Moncrieff was himself expelled.
After Winchester, Scott Moncrieff attended Edinburgh University, where he undertook two degrees, one in Law and then one in English Literature. Thereafter, he began an MA in Anglo-Saxon under the supervision of the respected man of letters, George Saintsbury. In 1913 he won The Patterson Bursary in Anglo Saxon and graduated in 1914 with first class honours. This stood him in good stead for his translation of Beowulf five years later.
During his time at Edinburgh, Scott Moncrieff met Philip Bainbrigge, then an undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge, later a schoolmaster at Shrewsbury and the author of miscellaneous homoerotic odes to Uranian Love. Bainbrigge was killed in action at Epèhy in September 1918.
First World War and after
In August 1914 Scott Moncrieff was given a commission in the Kings Own Scottish Borderers and served with the 2nd Battalion on the Western Front from 1914 to 1917. He made a conversion to Catholicism while at the Front in 1915. On the 23rd April 1917, while leading the 1st Battalion in the Battle of Arras he was seriously wounded by a shell explosion which tore into his left leg. Although he avoided amputation, his injuries disqualified him from further active service and left him permanently lame.
After his release from hospital in March 1918, Scott Moncrieff worked in the War Office in Whitehall. He supplemented his income by writing reviews for the New Witness, a literary magazine edited G. K. Chesterton.
In January 1918 at the wedding of Robert Graves, Scott Moncrieff met the war poet Wilfred Owen in whose work he took a keen interest. Through his role at the War Office Scott Moncrieff attempted to secure Owen a Home posting which would have prevented his return to the Front. According to Owen's biographer the evidence suggests a 'brief sexual relationship that somehow failed'.
After Owen's death, Scott Moncrieff's failure to secure a "safe" posting for Owen was viewed with suspicion by his friends, including Osbert Sitwell and Siegfried Sassoon. During the 1920s, Scott Moncrieff maintained a rancorous rivalry with Sitwell, who depicted him unflatteringly as "Mr. X" in All At Sea. Scott Moncrieff responded with the pamphlet "The Strange and Striking Adventure of Four Authors in Search of a Character, 1926.", a satire on the Sitwell family.
Through his friendship with the young Noël Coward, he made the acquaintance of Mrs Astley Cooper and became a frequent house guest at her home Hambleton Hall. He dedicated the first volume of his translation of Proust to Mrs Astley Cooper.
After the war, Scott Moncrieff worked for a year as private secretary to the press Baron, Alfred Harmsworth, Lord Northcliffe, owner of The Times, thereafter transferring to the editorial staff in Printing House Square. In 1923 his health compelled him to move to Italy, where he divided his time between Florence and Pisa, and later, Rome.
He subsequently supported himself with literary work, notably translations from medieval and modern French.
Remembrance of Things Past
Scott Moncrieff published the first volume of his Proust translation in 1922, and continued until his death in January 1930, at which time he was working on the final volume of the novel. His choice of the title Remembrance of Things Past, by which Proust's novel was known in English for many years, is not a literal translation of the original French. It is, in fact, taken from the second line of Shakespeare's Sonnet 30: "When to the sessions of sweet silent thought / I summon up remembrance of things past".
In a letter written on his deathbed in 1922, Proust congratulated Scott Moncrieff on his remarkable translation, but objected to the lack of ambiguity in the title: "Temps Perdu" meaning, in French both Lost Time and Wasted Time. However he apologised warmly for scarcely understanding English himself.
Death and after
The original French text of the Remembrance was re-edited in later years, in two successive editions, and these additions and revisions were subsequently incorporated in later English translations. Thus, Terence Kilmartin revised the Scott Moncrieff translation in 1981, and an additional revision was made by D.J. Enright in 1992. The work in these later versions is given the more literal title of In Search of Lost Time. To what extent these revisions (and revisions of revisions) have improved Scott Moncrieff's text has been discussed and evaluated differently by different people.
Scott Moncrieff died of cancer at Calvary Hospital in Rome in 1930. He was buried in the Campo Verano. His remains lie in a small communal ossuary with those who died in the same month at the same convent. The exact place can be located by doing a search by name and date of death at the gate.
Among the many works translated by Scott Moncrieff are:
- Proust, The Remembrance of Things Past [Volumes I through VI];
- Stendhal, The Red and The Black, The Charterhouse of Parma;
- as well as works by Pirandello, and the mediæval Song of Roland.
- The Collected Letters of Peter Abelard and Heloise the abbess
- 1919 The Song of Roland (trans.)
- 1921 Widsith, Beowulf, Finnsburgh, Waldere, Deor (trans.)
- 1922 Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, vol I: Swann's Way (trans.)
- 1923 Marcel Proust: An English Tribute (ed)
- 1923 The Satyricon of T. Petronius Arbiter (Abbey Classics) (Introd.)
- 1924 Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, vol II: Within a Budding Grove (trans.)
- 1925 The Letters of Abelard & Heloise (trans.)
- 1925 Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, vol III: The Guermantes Way (trans.)
- 1926 Stendhal's Abbess of Castro, & other Tales (trans.)
- 1926 Stendhal's The Red & the Black (Modern Library) (trans.)
- 1926 Pirandello's Shoot! (trans.)
- 1926 Stendhal's Charterhouse of Parma (trans.)
- 1928 Stendhal's Armance (trans.)
- 1928 Pirandello's The Old & the Young (2 vols) (trans.)
- 1928 de Biron's Memoirs of the Duc de Lauzun (trans.)
- 1929 Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, vols IV & V: Cities of the Plain (trans.)
- 1929 Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, vol VI: The Captive (trans.)
- 1929 Moncrif's Adventures of Zeloide & Amanzarifdine (ed & trans.)
- 1929 Bloch's --- & Co (trans.)
- 1930 Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, vol VII: The Sweet Cheat Gone (trans.)
- 1931 Memories & Letters (ed J. M. Scott-Moncrieff & L. W. Lunn)
- J.M. Scott Moncrieff and L.W. Lunn (eds), C.K. Scott Moncrieff: Memories and Letters, (1930), p. 1
- Memories and Letters, p. 8.
- Maureen Borland, Wilde's Devoted Friend: A Life of Robert Ross (Oxford: Lennard Press, 1990)
- See David Leavitt and Mark Mitchell (eds.), Pages Passed from Hand to Hand: The Hidden Tradition of Homosexual Literature in English from 1748 to 1914 (1998), pp. 375–80
- Timothy d'Arch Smith, Love in Earnest: Some Notes on the Lives and Writings of English "Uranian" Poets from 1889 to 1930 (1970), p. 147
- D'Arch Smith, Love in Earnest, pp. 148–50
- Memories and Letters, pp. 92-3.
- Memories and Letters, pp. 127–8
- Dominic Hibberd, Wilfred Owen: A New Biography (2002), p. 315
- Osbert Sitwell, All at Sea: a social tragedy in three acts for first class passengers only, with a preface entitled A few Days in an Author's Life (Duckworth: London, 1927)
- Philip Hoare, Noel Coward: A Biography, (University of Chicago Press, 1998)
- Memories and Letters, p. 150.
- Memories and Letters, p. 152.
- Letter from Proust to Scott Moncrieff dated 10 October 1922 in National Library, Edinburgh
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
- Moncrieff Works by Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff at Project Gutenberg
- Scott Moncrieff's translation of The Song of Roland at Project Gutenberg
- Scott Moncrieff's translation of Swann's Way by Proust at Project Gutenberg