The colourful life of the man who translated Proust’s opus

220px-Edward_Stanley_Mercer_-_Charles_Kenneth_Scott-MoncrieffSam Taylor at The Financial Times:

The subtitle of this entertaining biography describes CK Scott Moncrieff as a “Soldier, Spy and Translator”. But Jean Findlay, his great-great-niece, makes clear in Chasing Lost Time that the list of his accomplishments and activities did not end there. Scott Moncrieff was also a generous family man, a promiscuous homosexual and a converted Catholic. His colourful, 40-year life somehow seems to embody almost every literary cliché of his time, from poet of the trenches to jazz age expat. And yet his name never appeared on the front cover of any of the 20-odd books he published.

Born in 1889, Scott Moncrieff took part in the first world war and, like many sensitive young officers of his generation, he wrote poetry; unlike Siegfried Sassoon (whom he disliked) or Wilfred Owen (with whom he was in love), however, Scott Moncrieff’s poems were not bleak portrayals of futility and horror but rather jaunty little rhymes. In “Billeted” (published in 1917), for example, he wrote:

Mustn’t think we don’t mind when a chap gets laid out,
They’ve taken the best of us, never a doubt;
But with life pretty busy, and death rather near
We’ve no time for regret any more than for fear . . . 

more here.