Findlay employs a vast family archive to bring this little-known writer to the fame he justly deserves, making readers want...

CHASING LOST TIME

THE LIFE OF C.K. SCOTT MONCRIEFF: SOLDIER, SPY, AND TRANSLATOR

C.K. Scott Moncrieff (1889-1930) was a poet, war hero, spy and, above all, one of the world’s greatest translators. Journalist Findlay reveals his natural, effortless writing talent in this story of her great-great uncle.

Moncrieff held a low opinion of his poetry, but his ability to recognize great talent brought him into the brotherhood of the great World War I poets, including Robert Graves, Osbert Sitwell, Siegfried Sassoon and, especially, Wilfred Owen. Moncrieff encouraged Owen in his writing, but it was his unrequited love of Owen that was most important. He vowed to give up poetry because his talent couldn’t compare. So many of England’s young intellectuals wrote of the horrors of war and never returned. Not so, Moncrieff; his work gloried in the chivalry and honor of soldiering and chronicled not blood and death, but flowers, integrity, friendship and the countryside. Beauty was his escape. Crippled by friendly fire and suffering from both shell shock and trench fever, he began writing reviews, criticism and translations. In 1919, he began to translate Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. It took nine years and seven volumes and was hailed as a masterpiece in its own right. So successful were his Latin, French and Italian translations that he was lauded as one poet catching the emotion of another. In the early 1920s, Moncrieff proposed that the passport office act as a cover for spies, and it was he who reported Mussolini’s attempts at expansion. A spy’s double life came easily as he’d been hiding his homosexuality for years. The most fascinating thing about Moncrieff is that he knew very little French grammar, and his Italian translations began even before he spoke the language.

Findlay employs a vast family archive to bring this little-known writer to the fame he justly deserves, making readers want to turn back to Proust.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-11927-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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