Charles Kay Ogden

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the children's book writer, see Charles Ogden (children's writer).
Charles Kay Ogden
Charles Kay Ogden.jpg
Born (1889-06-01)1 June 1889
Fleetwood, Lancashire, England
Died 21 March 1957(1957-03-21) (aged 67)
London, England
Occupation Linguist, philosopher, writer
Known for Inventor of Basic English

Charles Kay Ogden (/ˈɔːɡdən, ˈɒɡ-/; 1 June 1889 – 21 March 1957) was an English linguist, philosopher, and writer. Described as a polymath but also an eccentric and outsider,[1][2][3] he took part in many ventures related to literature, politics, the arts and philosophy, having a broad effect particularly as an editor, translator, and activist on behalf of a reformed version of the English language. He is typically defined as a linguistic psychologist, and is now mostly remembered as the inventor and propagator of Basic English.

Early life[edit]

He was born at Rossall School in Fleetwood, Lancashire on 1 June 1889, where his father Charles Burdett Ogden was a housemaster. He was educated at Buxton and Rossall, winning a scholarship to Magdalene College, Cambridge and coming up to read Classics in 1908.[4]

At Cambridge[edit]

He visited continental Europe to investigate methods of language teaching in 1912 and 1913.[5] Ogden obtained an M.A. in 1915.

The Cambridge Magazine[edit]

He founded the weekly Cambridge Magazine in 1912 while still an undergraduate, editing it until it ceased publication in 1922. The initial period was troubled. Ogden was studying for Part II of the Classical Tripos when offered the chance to start the magazine by Charles Granville, who ran a small but significant London publishing house, Stephen Swift & Co. Thinking that the editorship would mean giving up first class honours, Ogden consulted Henry Jackson, who advised him not to miss the opportunity. Shortly after, Stephen Swift & Co. went bankrupt.[6] Ogden continued to edit the magazine during World War I, when its nature changed, because rheumatic fever as a teenager had left him unfit for military service.[7]

Ogden often used the pseudonym Adelyne More (add-a-line more) in his journalism. The magazine included literary contributions by Siegfried Sassoon, John Masefield, Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, and Arnold Bennett. In 1919 Claude McKay was in London, and Ogden published his poetry in the Magazine.[8]

It evolved into an organ of international comment on politics and the war, supported in the background by a group of Cambridge academics including Edward Dent (who sent Sassoon's work), Theo Bartholomew and Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson.[9] A survey of the foreign press filled more than half of each issue, being the Notes from the foreign press supplied by Dorothy Buxton which appeared there from October 1915 onwards until 1920,[10] and its circulation rose to over 20,000. Buxton was in fact then leading a large team translating and collating articles from up to 100 foreign newspapers; for instance Italian articles were supplied in translation in numbers by Dent.[11] This digest of European press coverage was exclusive to the Magazine, and gave it disproportionate influence in political circles. For example, Robert Reid, 1st Earl Loreburn used the Notes from the foreign press to advocate to the Marquess of Lansdowne in 1916 against bellicose claims and attitudes on the British side.[12]

During 1917 the Magazine came under heavy criticism, with its neutral use of foreign press extracts being called pacifism, particularly by the pro-war patriotic Fight for Right Movement headed by Francis Younghusband. Dorothy Buxton's husband Charles Roden Buxton was closely associated with the Union of Democratic Control. Sir Frederick Pollock who chaired Fight for Right wrote to The Morning Post in February 1917 charging the Magazine with pacifist propaganda, and with playing on its connection with the University as if it had official status.[13] Gilbert Murray, a supporter of Fight for Right but also a defender of many conscientious objectors and the freedom of the press, intervened to protest, gaining support from Bennett and Hardy.[14] John George Butcher, Conservative Member of Parliament for the City of York, asked a question in Parliament about government advertising in the Magazine, during November 1917.[15] The parliamentary exchange had two Liberal Party politicians, William Pringle and Josiah Wedgwood, pointing out that the Magazine was the only way they could read German press comments.

The Cambridge Magazine continued in the post-war years, but wound down to quarterly publication before closing down in 1922.

The Heretics Society[edit]

Ogden also co-founded the Heretics Society in Cambridge in 1909, which questioned traditional authorities in general and religious dogmas in particular, in the wake of the paper Prove All Things,[16] read by William Chawner, Master of Emmanuel College, a past Vice-Chancellor. The Heretics began as a group of 12 undergraduates interested in Chawner's agnostic approach.[17]

The Society was nonconformist and open to women, and Jane Harrison found an audience there, publishing her inaugural talk for the Society of 7 December 1909 as the essay Heresy and Humanity (1911), an argument against individualism. The talk of the following day was from J. M. E. McTaggart, and was also published, as Dare to Be Wise (1910). Another early member with anthropological interests was John Layard;[18] Herbert Felix Jolowicz, Frank Plumpton Ramsey and Philip Sargant Florence were among the members.[19] Alix Sargant Florence, sister of Philip, was active both as a Heretic and on the editorial board of the Cambridge Magazine.[20]

Ogden was President of the Heretics from 1911, for more than a decade;[21] he invited a variety of prominent speakers and linked the Society to his role as editor. In November 1911 G. K. Chesterton used a well-publicised talk to the Heretics to reply to George Bernard Shaw who had recently talked on The Future of Religion. On this occasion Chesterton produced one of his well-known bon mots:

Questioner: ... I say it is perfectly true that I have an intuition that I exist.
Mr. Chesterton: Cherish it.[22]

In 1912 T. E. Hulme and Bertrand Russell spoke. Hulme's talk on Anti-Romanticism and Original Sin was written up by Ogden for the Cambridge Magazine, where in 1916 both Hulme and Russell would write on the war, from their opposite points of view.[23] Rupert Brooke addressed them on contemporary theatre, and an article based on his views of Strindberg appeared in the Cambridge Magazine in October 1913.[24] Another talk from 1913 that was published was from Edward Clodd on Obscurantism in Modern Science.[25] Ogden was very active at this period in seeing these works into print.[26]

On 4 February 1923, the biologist J.B.S. Haldane lectured the Society on "Daedalus; or, Science and the Future", a speculative vision that enjoy some success in print and spurred in 1924 a less optimistic response from Bertrand Russell entitled "Icarus or the Future of Science".

The Heretics continued as a well-known forum, with Virginia Woolf in May 1924 using it to formulate a reply to criticisms from Arnold Bennett arising from her Jacob's Room (1922), in a talk Character in Fiction that was then published in The Criterion.[27][28] This paper contains the assertion, now proverbial, that "on or about December 1910 human character changed." The Heretics met in November 1929, when Ludwig Wittgenstein lectured to it on ethics, at Ogden's invitation, producing in A Lecture on Ethics a work accepted as part of the early Wittgenstein canon.[29]

Author and bookseller[edit]

Ogden published four books during this period. One was The Problem of the Continuation School (1914), with Robert Hall Best of the Best & Lloyd lighting company of Handsworth, and concerned industrial training. He also translated a related work by Georg Kerchensteiner (who had introduced him to Best),[30][31] which appeared as The Schools and the Nation (1914).[32] Militarism versus Feminism (1915, anonymous) was co-written with Mary Sargant Florence (mother of Alix). Uncontrolled Breeding, or, Fecundity versus Civilization (1916)[33] was a tract in favour of birth control, published under his pseudonym Adelyne More.[4]

Ogden ran two bookshops in Cambridge as well as a gallery where he sold works of art by members of the Bloomsbury Group. One of his bookshops was looted on the day the First World War ended.[34]

Editor[edit]

He built up a position as editor for Kegan Paul, publishers in London. In 1920, he was one of the founders of the psychological journal Psyche, and later took over the editorship; Psyche was initially the Psychic Research Quarterly set up by Walter Whately Smith,[35] but changed its name and editorial policy in 1921. It appeared until 1952, and was a vehicle for some of Ogden's interests.[36]

Also for Kegan Paul he founded and edited what became five separate series of books, comprising hundreds of titles. Two were major series of monographs, "The History of Civilisation" and "The International Library of Psychology, Philosophy and Scientific Method"; the latter series included about 100 volumes after one decade. The "To-day and To-morrow" series was another extensive series running to about 150 volumes, of popular books in essay form with provocative titles; he edited it from its launch in 1924. The first of the series (after an intervention by Fredric Warburg)[37] was Daedalus; or, Science and the Future by J. B. S. Haldane, an extended version of a talk to the Heretics Society. Other series were "Science for You" and "Psyche Miniatures".[38]

Language and philosophy[edit]

The semantic triangle.

Ogden helped with the English translation of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. In fact the translation itself was the work of F. P. Ramsey; Ogden as a commissioning editor assigned the task of translation to Ramsey, supposedly on earlier experience of Ramsey's insight into another German text, of Ernst Mach. The Latinate title now given to the work in English, with its nod to Baruch Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, is attributed to G. E. Moore, and was adopted by Ogden. In 1973 Georg Henrik von Wright edited Wittgenstein's Letters to C.K. Ogden with Comments on the English Translation of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, including correspondence with Ramsey.[39]

His most durable work is his monograph (with I. A. Richards) titled The Meaning of Meaning (1923), which went into many editions. This book, which straddled the boundaries among linguistics, literary analysis, and philosophy, drew attention to the significs of Victoria Lady Welby (whose disciple Ogden was) and the semiotics of Charles Sanders Peirce. A major step in the "linguistic turn" of 20th century British philosophy, The Meaning of Meaning set out principles for understanding the function of language and described the so-called semantic triangle. It included the inimitable phrase "The gostak distims the doshes."

Although neither a trained philosopher nor an academic, Ogden had a material effect on British academic philosophy. The Meaning of Meaning enunciated a theory of emotivism.[40] Ogden went on to edit as Bentham's Theory of Fictions (1932) a work of Jeremy Bentham, and had already translated in 1911 as The Philosophy of ‘As If’ a work of Hans Vaihinger, both of which are regarded as precursors of the modern theory of fictionalism.[41]

Basic English[edit]

Main article: Basic English

The advocacy of Basic English became his primary activity from 1925 until his death. Basic English is an auxiliary international language of 850 words comprising a system that covers everything necessary for day-to-day purposes. To promote Basic English, Ogden in 1927 founded the Orthological Institute, from orthology, the abstract term he proposed for its work (see orthoepeia). Its headquarters were on King's Parade in Cambridge. From 1928 to 1930 Ogden set out his developing ideas on Basic English and Jeremy Bentham in Psyche.[42]

In 1929 the Institute published a recording by James Joyce of a passage from a draft of Finnegans Wake. In summer of that year Tales Told of Shem and Shaun had been published, an extract from the work as it then stood, and Ogden had been asked to supply an introduction. When Joyce was in London in August, Ogden approached him to do a reading for a recording.[43][44] In 1932 Ogden published a translation of the Finnegans Wake passage into Basic English.[45][46]

By 1943 the Institute had moved to Gordon Square in London.[47]

Ogden was also a consultant with the International Auxiliary Language Association, which presented Interlingua in 1951.[48]

Bibliophile[edit]

Ogden collected a large number of books. His incunabula, manuscripts, papers of the Brougham family, and Jeremy Bentham collection were purchased by University College London. The balance of his enormous personal library was purchased after his death by the University of California - Los Angeles. He died on 21 March 1957 in London.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Frank Kermode in the London Review of Books
  2. ^ "''A Voice of Reason: C.K. Ogden and The Cambridge Magazine''". Pw20c.mcmaster.ca. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  3. ^ "Ogden 20th Century". Ogden.basic-english.org. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  4. ^ a b "Crimmins". Journals.sfu.ca. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  5. ^ "UCL Library Services: UCL Archives". Archives.ucl.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  6. ^ Philip Sargant Florence, C. K. Ogden: A Collective Memoir, p. 16.
  7. ^ C. K. Ogden: A Collective Memoir, p. 35.
  8. ^ Anne P. Rice, Witnessing Lynching: American writers respond (2003), p. 188.
  9. ^ Jean Moorcroft Wilson, Siegfried Sassoon: The Making of a War Poet (1998), p. 254.
  10. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, article on Dorothy Buxton.
  11. ^ Lawrence Haward, Edward J. Dent (1956), p. 24.
  12. ^ "The Lansdowne "Peace Letter" of 1917 and the prospect of peace by negotiation with Germany - page 8 | Australian Journal of Politics and History, The". Findarticles.com. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  13. ^ C. K. Ogden: A Collective Memoir, p. 38.
  14. ^ Duncan Wilson, Gilbert Murray (1987), p. 236.
  15. ^ "War Loan Advertisements". Cambridge Magazine. 12 November 1917. Retrieved 2012-05-24. 
  16. ^ Prove All Things; a paper read at the first meeting of the Religious Discussion Society, Emmanuel College (1909).
  17. ^ "Heretical Hellenism: Women Writers, Ancient Greece, and the Victorian Popular Imagination". ohioswallow.com. Retrieved 2012-05-24. 
  18. ^ George W. Stocking, Malinowski, Rivers, Benedict and Others: Essays on Culture and Personality (1986), p. 51.
  19. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, article on Ogden, J. W. Scott, revised by W. Terrence Gordon.
  20. ^ Marilyn Bailey Ogilvie, Joy Dorothy Harvey, The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: L-Z (2000), p. 1245.
  21. ^ Annabel Robinson, The Life and Work of Jane Ellen Harrison (2002), p. 233.
  22. ^ The Future of Religion: Mr. G. K. Chesterton's reply to Mr. Bernard Shaw (1911]).
  23. ^ Robert Ferguson, The Short Sharp life of T. E. Hulme (2002), pp. 111-3 and 236-7.
  24. ^ Christopher Hassall, Rupert Brooke: A Biography (1964), pp. 376-9.
  25. ^ Obscurantism in modern science. An address delivered before the "Heretics" society in Cambridge. (1913)
  26. ^ Other speakers before the outbreak of war in 1914 included: William Archer, A. C. Benson, Gilbert Cannan, Edward Gordon Craig, G. H. Hardy, Frank Harris, Jack Hulbert, Henry Arthur Jones, Vernon Lee, Oliver Lodge, Harold Monro, Gilbert Murray, Arthur Quiller-Couch, Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, Owen Seaman and Philip Waggett. C. K. Ogden: A Collective Memoir, p. 21.
  27. ^ "Character in Fiction". Ibiblio.org. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  28. ^ "Chronological List of Works By Virginia Woolf". Uah.edu. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  29. ^ J. Mark Lazenby, The Early Wittgenstein on Religion (2006), p. 5.
  30. ^ de:Georg Kerchensteiner
  31. ^ C. K. Ogden: A Collective Memoir, p. 25.
  32. ^ "''The Schools and the Nation''". Archive.org. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  33. ^ "Sequence 2 (Page [3]): Ogden, C. K. (Charles Kay). Uncontrolled Breeding, or, Fecundity versus Civilization. New York: Critic & Guide Co., 1917. Harvard University Library PDS". Pds.lib.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  34. ^ An eyewitness was I. A. Richards: "I came down King's Parade to see a crash of glass breaking. Ogden, by that time, was owner of three shops in Cambridge; one was a picture gallery, the others were bookstores. [...] I took my stand beside Ogden. Twenty or thirty drunken medical students were sacking the shop. Pictures were coming out through the plate glass in very dangerous fashion ... Duncan Grant ... Vanessa Bell ... Roger Fry. In Richards on Rhetoric 1991, edited Ann E. Berthoff, p. 8.
  35. ^ Lewis Spence, Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology vol. 2 (2003), p. 749.
  36. ^ Psyche: An Annual of General and Linguistic Psychology, facsimile edition 1995 in 18 volumes.
  37. ^ C. K. Ogden: A Collective Memoir, p. 128.
  38. ^ C. K. Ogden and Linguistics vol. 4, p. xiv.
  39. ^ Nils-Eric Sahlin, The Philosophy of F. P. Ramsey (1990), p. 227.
  40. ^ Moral Anti-Realism entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  41. ^ Fictionalism entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  42. ^ C. K. Ogden and Linguistics vol. 3, p. xxi.
  43. ^ "james Joyce Centre - Recordings of James Joyce Reading from his Works". Jamesjoyce.ie. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  44. ^ "The Finnegans Wake Society of New York - Joyce reading from the Wake". Finneganswake.org. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  45. ^ Susan Shaw Sailer, Universalizing Languages: "Finnegans Wake" Meets Basic English, James Joyce Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 4 (Summer, 1999), pp. 853-868.
  46. ^ The text of the recording was some pages of Anna Livia Plurabelle in the version published in 1928. Sources differ as to whether the recording was made in London or Cambridge; [1] says Cambridge, as does James Joyce's Manuscripts & Letters (PDF) at p. 177, while Modernist Heresies (PDF) at p. 203 says London.
  47. ^ Britannica Book of the Year 1944, pp. 103-5.
  48. ^ Esterhill, Frank, 2000, Interlingua Institute: A History, New York: Interlingua Institute.

References[edit]

  • Ogden, C. K., and Richards, I. A., 1949. The Meaning of Meaning: A Study of the Influence of Language upon Thought and of the Science of Symbolism, 10th ed. With supplementary essays by Bronislaw Malinowski and F. G. Crookshank. Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1st ed., 1923.
  • P. Sargant Florence and J. R. L. Anderson (editors) (1977), C. K. Ogden: A Collective Memoir

Further reading[edit]

  • Damon Franke (2008), Modernist Heresies: British Literary History, 1883–1924, particularly on Ogden and the Heretics Society.

External links[edit]