Category: Switzerland

David Garyan interviews Jean Findlay, Head of Publishing at Scotland Street Press

David Garyan interviews Jean Findlay, Head of Publishing at Scotland Street Press

Interlitq Interview Series


Read Jean Findlay’s article, “Price Beyond Rubies: On Writing The Hat Jewel.”


DG: As an artist, you’ve worked and continue to be involved in a wide range of disciplines—from playwriting to having run your own theater company, but also journalism, fiction, and non-fiction. How did it all start and what you led you to become both the Founder and Head of Publishing of an independent label, called Scotland Street Press?

JF: My career did not have a logical or planned progression. I studied Law, French and Philosophy at Edinburgh University. I spent one year of an MA in Photography at the Royal College of Art in London, although at the same time I was running a theatre company in Edinburgh for which I made the posters, raised the funding, acted in and operated the lighting.  The company became huge and by the time I was 26 there were 70 employees and it was touring in Europe to great acclaim. I wrote and directed my first plays with large casts: the first was a group of strippers from the Edinburgh bars for whom I asked the choreographer Liz Rankin, who was working with the Royal Shakespeare Company at the time, to come and direct the movement.  It was unforgettable, especially the piece she developed for opera music. The theatre company burnt me out and I moved to journalism and to London, writing theatre reviews and directing the performance poet Murray Lachlan Young.  This evolved into travel, book reviews and arts features and one salient interview with the Russian poet Irina Ratushinskaya, whom I admire greatly. By this time I had my first son and I reduced work, although there was a short stint as a director at the National Youth Theatre. I kept writing plays while having a second son, and worked at a number of jobs; teaching drama, taking portraits, and eventually winning the commission from Chatto and Windus to write the biography of C.K. Scott Moncrieff. This was a good thing to combine with being a single mother (which is what I had become by this point) and I am grateful to the Hyam Wingate Foundation and the Society of Authors for helping to fund the long period of research and writing.

This book did very well, and more was written about it in good reviews than there is between the boards. However, I still had a vast amount of material and wanted to publish a collection of Scott Moncrieff’s own writings: short stories that were originally published by T S Eliot in The Criterion and war poetry.  Chatto and Windus did not want to publish this, so I set up Scotland Street Press, called after the street we were living in at the time in Edinburgh.


DG: Aside from your own impressive artistic career, you also have the good fortune of being the great-great-niece of C.K. Scott Moncrieff—the man who first translated Remembrance of Things Past (also known as In Search of Lost Time) into English and about whom you’ve already written a fantastic biography published by Chatto & Windus. Can you describe the writing process, along with perhaps some of the surprising things you discovered looking through the family archives, and also how Moncrieff’s wonderful, translation shaped all the subsequent ones done by others? Indeed, it was a very good translation, despite what Proust may have thought at the time, and it’s still considered one of the best today. 

JF: My mother handed me a battered suitcase full of the papers of her great uncle, the translator of Proust. It contained diaries and notebooks, poems, doodles, limericks and receipts, letters to US publishers and wrangles with Pirandello’s agent.   I had never written a book before, but as my mother, grandfather and great-great uncle had all been writers, I took it for granted that I could.  I must admit that my first attempt at the 10,000 word proposal was terrible and my agent must have despaired, however he managed to get a commission and to secure Jenny Uglow, the eminent biographer, as my editor.  Having such a great agent and editor was a stroke of luck.  Jenny took a red pen to every chapter I sent her and I learnt like a pupil at school.  All of Scott Moncrieff’s papers were not in the suitcase, there were hundreds of letters in private and public collections in the US and the UK. I travelled to The Berg Collection in New York for the letters to Sir Edward Marsh, to Reading for the massive correspondence with his UK publisher. The National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh holds the correspondence with the poet Robert Graves and the English Faculty Library, Oxford, has those to Wilfred Owen. It was a great adventure, not least visiting the battlefields of Ypres and Arras where Charles fought during the First World War and was eventually wounded.  But it was at the National Archives in Kew where I discovered what no one knew, that during his post war years in Italy, he was working not only as a translator, but as a spy for the British Government.

Scott Moncrieff also translated Abelard and Eloise, Beowulf, the Chanson de Roland, and much of Stendhal and Pirandello. He sold both Proust and Pirandello to the English speaking world.

As for his translation of Proust, many great writers including Joseph Conrad and Scott Fitzgerald held it to be a masterpiece in itself.  Virginia Woolf and James Joyce acknowledge its influence.


DG: Certainly, as a writer, you’ve had great success and are now enjoying similarly positive developments as a publisher. It would be interesting to hear about a few of the new and exciting things we can expect from Scotland Street Press in the near future, and, perhaps, also to know a bit about the some of the staff and agents who will help make it possible.

JF: Scotland Street Press was founded the proceeds of the US rights sale of the aforementioned biography, so I see us standing on the shoulders of giants: Proust and Scott Moncrieff and the writers they knew.  As I like to take on first-time authors and poets, and translations from Belarus, these are necessary shoulders to stand on. Although the staff have changed constantly over the first few years of start-up, relying heavily on volunteers, we are now a team of four women working part-time: Lucrezia Gaion, Antonia Weir, Kate Jowett and myself.  Last year we were proud to publish Alindarka’s Children, a difficult translation of a Belarusian novel in two languages, which won an English Pen Award and was long-listed for the Republic of Consciousness Prize. This year we have a themed schedule called International Women Series 2021, and this includes three poets who have collaborated with artists to create books that are conversations between art and poetry. Do look on our website for the titles : A Song to Keep, Restricted Movement, and Patient Dignity.  The first will launch on the 6th May on our YouTube channel, and everyone is invited to watch this stunning short film about the artists. I am lucky to work with young people who have constant inspiration and enthusiasm.

Like theatre, publishing is a collaborative art.


DG: I would like to speak now about your early days in theater; there will naturally be many who might disagree with me, but I’ve always felt this particular artform to be more intimate and personal than reading a novel, or even hearing a poem—an experience which does entail the presence of performative qualities. Since you’ve worked as both a playwright and novelist, it would be interesting to hear not only your perspective on which genre best captures the human condition but also which one you ultimately feel more fondness for, and why? In other words, what are some things you’ve done in plays that wouldn’t have been possible to do in a novel, and, likewise, what are things that now draw you to the novel?

JF: To go from writing plays to non-fiction and then to fiction is like taking giant strides in different directions, while circling around the centre. I agree with you, theatre is the purest, most direct form of artistic communication. My journey away from it was purely for reasons of survival: there is not a lot of funding out there for theatre. I don’t think I would have been able to raise a family while working in theatre. There is also the fact that theatre involves much travel and high nervous energy, which doesn’t work with providing a stable family home. But ultimately my heart is in theatre, I agree that it best captures the human condition, it speaks directly to the soul of a huge audience; you have a collective response and an individual response, and the power of being able to move people is much greater.


DG: Would you ever consider staging—either in parts or in its entirety—your novel-in-progress, The Hat Jewel, after it has been completed, or are you firmly committed to keeping this particular work on the page? In either case, it would be interesting to know why.

JF: I would love to stage The Hat Jewel!  Actually, the first response of the first reader was, “It reads like a play.” There are parts of it, especially the parts with the Fool, which are very funny; and the rest would work as a pageant of Scottish history. Again, it would come down to fundraising, but I expect I am better at that now.


DG: Speaking of the page, many people now wonder about the future of printed books. Having already discussed playwriting, the analogy could, perhaps, be constructed in this way: Flipping through the pages of a printed book (and to make it more interesting, let it be a rare first edition) versus reading the same text digitally is like having the privilege of watching an amazing performance in presence instead of merely witnessing it online—the parallel isn’t one-hundred percent accurate, but there’s some logic in it. My question, hence, is two-fold: Firstly, how do you see the proliferation of e-books? Secondly, will they completely replace printed ones soon, and if so, will that increase or decrease readership in general?

JF: Just as online performances will never replace theatre, so ebooks will never outsell printed books. As publishers we get yearly data on ebook versus printed book sales and even during lockdown when ebooks had their ultimate boost, printed books were still vastly more popular even though more expensive and more difficult to obtain.  Most people are not fully satisfied by virtual experience. Scotland Street Press publishes books with feel and colour and paintings and different types of covers.  We have an excellent designer in Antonia Weir who is also incidentally a theatre artist. This summer we hope to stage outdoor poetry readings during the Edinburgh Fringe, with the entry ticket being the purchase of a poetry book.  As all of our books are cheaper than your average theatre ticket, we are providing great value.


DG: As you’ve worked and been successful in a number of artistic fields, what advice would you give journalists, playwrights, and novelists on the eve of their careers?

JF: Do you mean dawn of their careers?  There’s not much left at the eve?

If you mean beginning, then I would say: always put the demands of life before the demands of art.  There are many who would put career first, especially women who will put off having children in case they interfere with an artistic career. But I would say there is no art without life. My best ideas have come though working with my own children or with young people, and there is no greater creative production in existence than giving birth.  I’d go so far as to say that if you want to understand creativity in its fullest sense, then you cannot get any nearer than creating another human being. It stretches every faculty, and we are here to be stretched. That of course puts Proust and Scott Moncrieff in a different light, but I expect they would have agreed with me.

If you actually do mean ‘eve of career’, and I certainly don’t think I have reached that yet, then the answer is: never give up, always go back to the blank canvas.  There are novelists like Mary Wesley who started writing at 70 and had a full career beyond, or PD James and Diana Athill who wrote and published well into their 90s.  I look to them and see myself as a youngster.


About Jean Findlay

Jean Findlay was born in Edinburgh. She studied Law and French at Edinburgh University under Peter France and Theatre under Tadeusz Kantor in Kracow, Poland. She co-founded an award winning theatre company and wrote and produced plays which toured to London, Berlin, Bonn, Rotterdam, Dublin, Glasgow and the Pompidou Centre in Paris. She spent years in London writing drama and book reviews for the Scotsman, and has written for the IndependentTime Out and the Guardian.  In 2014 she published Chasing Lost Time: The Life of CK Scott Moncrieff, Soldier, Spy and Translator with Chatto and Windus, now in Vintage paperback and with FSG in New York. She founded Scotland Street Press in Edinburgh in 2014 and now runs this small, award-winning publishing house. For writing The Hat Jewel she won a Hawthornden Fellowship 2018 and a Lavigny International Writer’s Fellowship 2019.


Quiénes son los jóvenes cordobeses que escracharon a Macri en Suiza

El presidente Mauricio Macri pasó por Suiza, antes de su regreso a Argentina, para recibir el premio “Living Football”, de manos del presidente de la FIFA Gianni Infantino, en reconocimiento a su aporte al fútbol y al deporte. Sin embargo, cuando llegó a la casa madre de la entidad, en Zurich, fue increpado por un grupo de tres argentinos que se acercó a saludarlo y, ante el gesto cordial del Presidente, le respondieron: “Te queda muy poco porque vuelve Cristina” y le cantaron en plena cara el clásico “vamos a volver”. Las imágenes fueron grabadas por ellos mismos.

El grupo estaba integrado por dos hombres y una mujer. PERFIL pudo conocer la identidad de dos de ellos: se trata de Iván y Sebastián Hossly. Son hermanos, cordobeses, descendientes de suizos. Iván fue fue delegado de la Asociación Trabajadores del Estado (ATE) en Córdoba durante el gobierno kirchnerista. Sebastián pertenece a Unidos y Organizados. Ambos son militantes kirchneristas.

Esta tarde, cuando se empezaron a difundir las imágenes de quienes habían escrachado a Macri, la madre de los Hossly, Marissa Cattaneo, realizó una encendida defensa de sus hijos a través de Facebook: “Hemos recibido, muchos comentarios, sobre mis hijos. Los criamos y los amamos con toda nuestro corazón. Ellos saben lo que es ponerle el pecho a todo. Los amigos y compañeros de siempre felices. Los demás son irrecuperables”, acotó la mujer ante las repercusiones.

Durante la mañana, Cattaneo había escrito: “Ellos, donde estén, ponen el pecho. Mis hijos, por su patria, todo“.

Furia. Después de escrachar a Macri, los Hossly siguieron filmándose. En los minutos finales del video, uno de ellos miró a cámara y afirmó: “Ahí lo tienen al Presidente que entrega toda la soberanía del país, deja miles de argentinos sin trabajo y se caga en los laburantes. Vuelve Cristina y vuelve la felicidad“.

El abuelo de los jóvenes tiene una historia muy arraigada en Cosquín. Walter Hossly fue director técnico en la construcción del Hospital Santa María en 1914.


Tariq Ramadan charged in France over rape allegations

Tariq Ramadan

A French judge has placed prominent Islamic studies scholar Tariq Ramadan under criminal investigation on two charges of rape.

The 55-year-old was questioned by police in Paris earlier this week and has now been remanded into custody.
He denies wrongdoing and is suing one of his accusers, a former radical Islamist, for slander.
Mr Ramadan teaches at Oxford University, but took leave of absence after the claims surfaced in October.
An examining magistrate will now compile a case, and determine whether Mr Ramadan will stand trial for rape and assault.

How did the allegations emerge?

His first accuser is Henda Ayari, a former Muslim radical who now heads a secular feminist group.
In a book published in 2016, she wrote about being raped in a Paris hotel four years earlier, but the book did not name the attacker.
But in October 2017, she said the sexual assault scandal surrounding Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein had emboldened her to accuse Mr Ramadan explicitly.
A few days later another woman, a convert to Islam who has remained anonymous, accused him of raping her in 2009.
Four Swiss women have also accused the scholar of making sexual advances while they were students in Geneva. He says all the allegations are part of a campaign by his enemies.

Who is Tariq Ramadan?

A controversial and influential figure among Muslim scholars, he is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the Egyptian imam who founded the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s.
Tariq Ramadan challenges Muslim fundamentalists and encourages dialogue between religions, but some critics say he is a promoting a version of Islam that is inconsistent with French secular values.
He has made regular media appearances in France and Britain, and is a popular figure among young Muslims in Europe.
Mr Ramadan is a Swiss national and since 2009 has been professor of contemporary Islamic studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford.
He has also sat on a UK Foreign Office advisory group on freedom of religion.
Read more about Tariq Ramadan.

"Jung Revisited" by Brian Inglis

Brian Inglis

In a lecture given in 1977 John Beloff recalled that although when he read Jung’s Synchronicity he had been intrigued, regarding it as ‘one of the more extravagant products of Jung’s fertile imagination’, he had not expected it to catch on. Events had proved him wrong; ‘fourteen years later, although it could not be said to occupy a paramount place in contemporary parapsychological speculation, it has become a firm fixture.’
Thirteen years later still, it has spread out to establish itself among what used to be described as the intelligentsia, a species which today lacks an identification, but for convenience can be described as the readers of the ‘quality’ newspapers and magazines. Synchronicity can no longer be closely identified, however, with Jung’s concept; partly because Jung himself did not claim to present it as a fully-fledged theory. In the foreword to his essay on the subject, he explained that he was making good a promise which for many years he had lacked the courage to fulfil; ‘the difficulties of the problem and its presentation seemed to me too great; too great the intellectual responsibility without which a subject cannot be tackled; too inadequate, in the long run, my scientific training’. His research into symbols, however, had brought the problem closer; and as he had been alluding to synchronicity for twenty years he felt it was time to explain what he had in mind by it – though this would entail, he feared, ‘uncommon demands on the open-mindedness and goodwill of the reader.’ It still does, not least because Jung was not good at elucidating obscurities in his ideas. His ‘scarab’ illustration of synchronicity gives a clearer picture than his attempts to describe it as a theory: the unconscious minds of therapist and patient, brought into collaboration by the need of the patient to find a way out of her problems and the need of the therapist to help her, are assisted by synchronicity in the form of a contribution from the collective unconscious – an archetype, the scarabeid beetle, arriving at the opportune moment in the session.
How, though, was this done? Jung turned to Pauli to explain that the new physics left the door open for the acceptance of acausal forces; and to Rhine, for the evidence which his research at Duke University had provided for the reality of psi phenomena, showing how the intercommunication between individuals – and, presumably, between individuals and the collective unconscious – could be accounted for. But this pushed Jung into accepting that the phenomena should be considered acausal: a source of confusion.
It was Jung’s harping on acausality which chiefly irritated Koestler when he came to examine the theory of synchronicity. Starting from the acausality premise, he complained, Jung had nevertheless ended up with the notion that the archetypes had somehow engineered the scarab’s appearance at the window. The confusion had arisen, John Beloff has explained, because of Jung’s arbitrary decision to restrict the meaning of causality to the way in which it is understood in physics. Jung had taken for granted that because trials had shown that telepathic communication appeared to be instantaneous, regardless of the distances involved, it must be acausal, as this was how quantum physics classified acausality.
But ‘what this argument overlooks is that the concept of cause was not invented by physicists’. It was surely nonsensical to claim that the findings from card-guessing trials for telepathy, if they were positive, were not causally related. Whether Uri Geller bends keys by normal or paranormal means, ‘the one thing we can be sure about is that he causes them to bend.’ ‘Meaningful’ has also raised problems. When Jung recalled that his interest in synchronicity had been roused by coincidences which were connected ‘so meaningfully that their “chance” concurrence would represent a degree of improbability that would have to be expressed by an astronomical figure’, he was using the term in a special sense. It is usually employed – as, for that matter, is ‘synchronicity’ – to describe a coincidence which has a meaning for the person or people it has involved, in the sense of giving the impression that it may have been designed for them, for good or ill. An improbable coincidence excites curiosity, but the improbability does not make it meaningful in this second sense; whereas a coincidence which ordinarily would be readily attributed to chance can become meaningful if it leaves those concerned wondering if it has implications for them, personally.
Synchronicity may be the best known theory to account for meaningful coincidences, Grattan-Guinness has observed, but it is ‘probably the most feeble’ – he is one of many parapsychologists who share Koestler’s irritation with it. As an alternative Grattan-Guinness offers ‘propensity’, a hypothesis covering a group of theories which have in common the assumption that ‘nature’, including the person involved and his environment, ‘has a propensity to fall into certain states of affairs which are favourable (or unfavourable) to psi events’ – a notion related to Sir Karl Popper’s theory of probabilities, set out in his Logic of Scientific Discovery. The most convincing criticism of Jung’s theory, however, is Eisenbud’s.
Jung had the idea of synchronicity, and then contrived to fuse psi into it. But if psi is accepted on Eisenbud’s or Sheldrake’s model, there is less need for synchronicity.
Most meaningful coincidences can be accounted for without it.
As things stand, therefore, it would be unwise to try to resuscitate synchronicity in its original form. Nevertheless the basic idea of an acausal connecting principle, as Beloff concedes, ‘is not devoid of meaning’. The concept of acausality may have to be dispensed with, ‘but the type of cause that we are left with is very different from the type of cause we associated with mechanical forces’. The essential point, David Peat claims in Synchronicity (1987), is that Jung presented a hypothesis which spanned the apparently unbridgeable gap ‘between the objective and subjective approaches to the question of the universe and our role within it.’
Synchronicity provides us with a starting point, for it represents a tiny flaw in the fabric of all that we have hitherto taken for a reality.
Synchronicities give us a glimpse beyond our conventional notions of time and causality into the immense patterns of nature, the underlying dance which connects all things and the mirror which is suspended between inner and outer universes. With synchronicity as our starting point it becomes possible to begin the construction of a bridge that spans the worlds of mind and matter, physics and psyche.
“Jung Revisited” is an extract from Coincidence: a Matter of Chance – or Synchronicity? by Brian Inglis.