Jean Findlay had access to an impressive array of sources when writing this biography of her great-great uncle. She does not always make the best choices in navigating the mass of material: too many pages are cluttered with unsifted detail, and the family history genre often interferes with the biographical project of a significant public figure. However, the multiplicity of authentic documents – letters, poems, notes, diaries – allows Charles Scott Moncrieff to emerge as a vital, brilliant, conflicted whirlwind of a man whose courage in war, devotion to friends and family, and profound religious commitment were accompanied by rampaging sexual promiscuity and a large measure of self-deprecation. He never became the great poet or fiction writer he had dreamed of being in his youth, but his life nonetheless belonged primarily to literature. It was as a translator that he made his lasting contributions, and above all, of course, as the first, and best, English translator of Proust.
Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR. We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, click 'Sign In' in the top left-hand corner of the screen. If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.