C. K. Scott Moncrieff – The Ideal Translator

Found- a press cutting from The Bookman, March 1932 by one De V. Payen-Payne, a good evaluation of the life and work of C. K. Scott Moncrieff – in a review of a posthumous book by him. It may be a myth or an exaggeration but I heard that Scott-Moncrieff was working on his monumental Proust translation while on the staff at The Times and occasionally when he was stuck for the English mot juste (as it were) he would consult the entire office and everything came to a halt while the right word was found – world news be damned!

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Painting of Scott Moncrieff by E S Mercer

It is a moot point whether a mother or a wife or any near relative can write the ideal biography. Not that this book pretends to be a biography, although it contains many details that only a mother can give, and will prove invaluable when the ideal biographer appears, and Scott Moncrieff’s work is assessed critically and compared with the lit he led. Some may think that too much space has been given to his experiences in the War and to the letters that he wrote to his family and friends when on service. Since 1918 we have a large number of such accounts, and Scott Moncrieff’s adventures, although most creditable to himself, were not very different from those of many other intellectual men thrown into the cortex of combat. Others too may think that the postscript is too personal for inclusion. Instead of it, an index would have been a desirable adjustment.  Continue reading

Miguel de Unamuno on Fuerteventura

unamunoFound in Essays and soliloquies by Miguel de Unamuno (London: Harrap 1924) this preface written on the windswept Spanish island of Furteventura. The island is now mainly a holiday destination, although there is an impressive statue of Unamuno by the main road and also a life size statue of him on a side street. Unamuno was exiled to Fuerteventura in 1924 by the Spanish Government for his political ideas. His friend J.E. Crawford Flitch visited him there and prepared (and translated) this selection.

Author’s preface

I am writing these lines, today the 6th of June, 1924, in this island of Fuerteventura, an island that is propitious to calm thinking and to a laying bare of the soul, even as this parched land is bare, bare even to the bone. Here I have been confined now for nearly three months, no reason for my confined having been given other than the arbitrary mandate of the military power that is de-civilising and debasing my native country.

Hither came my friend Mr. J. E. Crawford Flitch to bear me company. He was entrusted by Mr. Alfred A. Knopf with the task of making an anthology or florilegium of my shorter articles and extracts from my more extensive writings which should present a conspectus of my whole literary work. It is he, my friend and translator, who is responsible for the selection of the pieces which form this anthology…

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David Lodge on Edmund Randolph – forgotten Catholic novelist

Before he made the big time as a fully fledged comic novelist David Lodge was principally a literary critic who wrote the occasional novel. When I was taught by him at Birmingham University his reputation rested not on his four novels—Ginger You’re Barmy, The Picturegoers,  The British Museum is Falling Down, and Out of the Shelter, but on his doorstep-sized anthology of literary theory and his books and articles on mainstream twentieth century Catholic novelists.

Lodge’s article on the hardly known late Victorian novelist Edmund Randolph, which I discovered in a copy of the Aylesford Review for Spring 1960, belongs to the period when he regarded himself as primarily a writer on the history of Catholic novel, a subject he had chosen for his M.A. dissertation at London University. This research involved reading a number of ‘forgotten Catholic novelists‘of the nineteenth century. Clearly, he had not been impressed by their quality:
 
‘…Between the waves of the Oxford movement and the Decadence there lies a trough in which English Catholic novelists produced little besides sentimental pietistic romances and propagandist historical novels…’
 
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Eviction of Adam and Eve

Found in Arrows 87 (Summer 1964, edited by Roger Ebbatson) this amusing piece about Adam and Eve. The magazine was produced by Sheffield University Union and had poems articles, graphics etc., This squib was by Peter Mottley (1935-2006) who became an actor, director and playwright.

Eviction by Peter Mottley.

Dear Mr. Adam,

I am instructed by my client to serve the enclosed eviction order concerning the property you now occupy.

He feels that he is justified in this action in view of your recent behaviour, which constitutes a breach of the terms of your lease.

You will remember the Clause 4 in your lease permitted you full access to the garden on condition that you undertook 'to dress it and keep it', and that my client generously allowed you to take for your own use any of the fruits and flower which grow there. However, he specified quite plainly that you were not under any circumstances to touch the prize-winning fruit tree in the south-east corner. This clause has been broken quite blatantly by your wife, who has freely admitted taking fruit from this tree. Her excuse, that she thought it would be all right, is considered by my client to be inadequate.

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Mendel, A Story of Youth (Mark Gertler)

Found - a rare 1916 first edition of Mendel, A Story of Youth by Gilbert Cannan. The novel is a roman a clef about the artist Mark Gertler and has much on his disastrous affair with Bloomsbury Goddess Dora Carrington. The verse dedication is to her:

To D.C.

Shall tears be shed because the blossoms fall,
Because the cloudy cherry slips away,
And leaves its branches in a leafy thrall
Till ruddy fruits do hang upon the spray 
Shall tears be shed because the youthful bloom

And all th'excess of early life must fade
For larger wealth of joy in smaller room
To dwell contained in love of man and maid?
Nay, rather leap, O heart, to see fulfilled
In certain joy th'uncertain promised glee,
To have so many mountain torrents spilled
For one fair river moving to the sea.

Gilbert Cannan entertained Mark Gertler, Katherine Mansfield and D H Lawrence among others to a famous 1914 Christmas party at Cholesbury Mill in Buckinghamshire and between 1914 and 1916 Gertler was a frequent visitor. Gertler used Cannan’s shed as a studio and his painting of Gilbert Cannan at his Mill now hangs in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (for which much thanks).

Between 1914-15 Gertler pursued a frustrating love affair at Cannan's  Mill and elsewhere with Dora Carrington, who eventually left him to live with Lytton Strachey. Their relationship is the subject of the 1995 film Carrington*. After Strachey’s death in 1932 Carrington committed suicide.

*Rufus Sewell played a fiery Mark Gertler in the movie. Below is a sample from Christopher Hampton's script - Gertler is very annoyed that Carrington is in love with Strachey:

Mark Gertler: Haven't you any self-respect? 
Dora Carrington: Not much. 
Mark Gertler: But he's a disgusting pervert! 
Dora Carrington: You always have to put up with something.
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The Dutch Sensitivists

An excellent introduction by Edmund Gosse to Louis Couperus's 1891 novel Footsteps of Fate ('Noodlot') translated from the Dutch by Clara Bell. Gosse corresponded with Couperus but he wrote well informed  introductions similar to this to every book in Heinemann's long series of European novels. They show great scholarship and an enthusiasm for the emerging movements in writing in the last decade of the 19th century. While Britain had its aesthetic 1890s movement and the Celtic Twilight and the French their decadent writers the Dutch had the 'Sensitivists'…There are interesting references to the Dutch Browning (the poet Potgieter) also resident in Florence and also to Netscher the Dutch George Moore, a singular honour.

THE DUTCH SENSITIVISTS

In the intellectual history of all countries we find the same phenomenon incessantly recurring. New writers, new artists, new composers arise in revolt against what has delighted their grandfathers and satisfied their fathers. These young men, pressed together at first, by external opposition, into a serried phalanx, gradually win their way, become themselves the delight and then the satisfaction of their contemporaries, and, falling apart as success is secured to them, come to seem lax, effete and obsolete to a new race of youths, who effect a fresh aesthetic revolution. In small communities, these movements are often to be observed more precisely than in larger ones. But they are very tardily perceived by foreigners, the established authorities in art and literature retaining their exclusive place in dictionaries and handbooks long after the claim of their juniors to be observed with attention has been practically conceded at home.

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Laughton Osborn

Found- a rare anonymous work by Laughton Osborn, an almost completely forgotten writer and one time friend of Poe - A Handbook of Young Artists and Amateurs in Oil Painting (Wiley and Putnam New York 1845.) The author is given as 'An American Artist' and the book demonstrates  a very thorough technical knowledge of the subject, particularly the making and mixing of colours. Very much a writer manqué, his entry in the American Dictionary of Biography ends on this pathetic note: 'His plays were obviously for the library, and not for the footlights, and a search of dramatic records fails disclose any mention of their production in New York or elsewhere.' An online search some 80 years later shows no mention of any performances or reviews of his plays but brings up one modern critic (David S Reynolds) writing that his plays '…have been  deservedly ignored because they sheepishly attempt to duplicate both the  the form and content of Shakespeare's plays.' As a friend (and correspondent) of the 'divine Edgar', surely the greatest of all American writers, he may be worthy of greater note. Poe writes about him fulsomely in The Literati of New York (1850) which is available at Wikisource. The shorter Allibone has this: 'Novelist. Author Confessions of a Poet, Sixty Years of the Life of Jeremy Levis,etc. A writer of some power, whose works have been criticised as of questionable morality.'

Here is his entry in the American Dictionary of Biography:

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Arthur Augustus Tilley francophile and academic

Found in a copy of The Romantic Movement in French Literature - Traced By a Series of Texts (C.U.P. 1924) this obituary of A.A. Tilley by his co-author H.F. Stewart - also a distinguished Cambridge academic and francophile, but so far rather neglected on the web. It appeared in The Cambridge Review 6/3/1943. It is a model of its kind and gives a glimpse into a vanished world..

Obituary

Arthur Augustus Tilley - December 1, 1851 - December 4, 1942.No one who visited Arthur Tilley in the evening of his long life but must have felt himself standing on hallowed ground, in the presence of a veteran who, having fulfilled his course, was quietly, serenely, awaiting his call. "Le vent de l'éternité le frappait au front." Not that there was anything pietistic about his conversation. He would speak with grave simplicity of things deep and high, and pass easily to current events upon which he commented with shrewdness and vigour, or to the sometimes affectionate, sometimes caustic, review of men and their doings in the past. And what a range, and how varied, his memory covered! He was the favourite nephew of Anthony Trollope, whom as a boy he adored and as a mature critic he greatly admired. He had known everyone worth knowing i the University for 70 years, and his recollections were sometimes starling. A propos of a picture card of the Puy de Dôme he said to me the last time I saw him, "I took Bradshaw up there; I shouldn't have done so if I had known his heart was bad."

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Simon Raven – poet and Greek scholar

Found - in a 1949 Cambridge University magazine Imprint, very early work of the British novelist Simon Raven. This is the first issue of the magazine, edited by J.M. Grundy of Caius College (Raven was at King's College in his second year after completing National Service.) Raven contributes 2 translations from The Greek Anthology by anonymous authors. There is much mention of Greek literature and mythology in his subsequent novels, especially in his magnum opus The Roses of Picardie. His first novel The Feathers of Death was published nine years after these translations:

TWO POEMS  (translated from the Greek of unknown authors)
                         1
Who garlands for my tomb,
Who scented oils will bring,
Who feeds high the fire,
Makes vain offering.

While yet I live, be kind;
No wine on ashes pour -
Thus only mire is made of him
That's dead and drinks no more.

                         II
Nymphs and cold pastures, this
Tale the bees must hear
This tell them as they wander
The spring ways of the year:

That old Leucippus perished
Under a winter's sky,
Laying his nets at midnight
Where the light-foot hare goes by.

His care of hive and garden
Has with him an end:
The peak has now no neighbour,
The meadows mourn a friend.

The themes of death and mourning are addressed by him in a later piece 'Memento Mori' at The Spectator where he quotes his own translation. It is interesting to compare his translation of the second piece with an earlier prose translation by the classical scholar J W Mackail:

Naiads and chill cattle-pastures, tell to the bees when they come on their spring-tide way, that old Leucippus perished on a winter's night, setting snares for scampering hares, and no longer is the tending of the hives dear to him; and the pastoral dells mourn sore for him who dwelt with the mountain peak for neighbour.