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《高级英语》课文逐句翻译(12)

2006-12-29 14:11   【 】【我要纠错

  我为什么写作

  Lesson 12: Why I Write

  从很小的时候,大概五、六岁,我知道长大以后将成为一个作家。

  From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer.

  从15到24岁的这段时间里,我试图打消这个念头,可总觉得这样做是在戕害我的天性,认为我迟早会坐下来伏案著书。

  Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to adandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.

  三个孩子中,我是老二。老大和老三与我相隔五岁。8岁以前,我很少见到我爸爸。由于这个以及其他一些缘故,我的性格有些孤僻。我的举止言谈逐渐变得很不讨人喜欢,这使我在上学期间几乎没有什么朋友。

  I was the middle child of three, but there was a gap of five years on either side, and I barely saw my father before I was eight- For this and other reasons I was somewhat lonely, and I soon developed disagreeable mannerisms which made me unpopular throughout my schooldays.

  我像一般孤僻的孩子一样,喜欢凭空编造各种故事,和想像的人谈话。我觉得,从一开始,我的文学志向就与一种孤独寂寞、被人冷落的感觉联系在一起。我知道我有驾驭语言的才能和直面令人不快的现实的能力。这一切似乎造就了一个私人的天地,在此天地中我能挽回我在日常生活中的不得意。

  I had the lonely child's habit of making up stories and holding conversations with imaginary persons, and I think from the very start my literary ambitions were mixed up with the feeling of being isolated and undervalued.

  我知道我有驾驭语言的才能和直面令人不快的现实的能力。这一切似乎造就了一个私人的天地,在此天地中我能挽回我在日常生活中的不得意。

  I knew that I had a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts, and I felt that this created a sort of private world in which I could get my own back for my failure

  还是一个小孩子的时候,我就总爱把自己想像成惊险传奇中的主人公,例如罗宾汉。但不久,我的故事不再是粗糙简单的自我欣赏了。它开始趋向描写我的行动和我所见所闻的人和事。

  。 . As a very small child I used to imagine that I was, say, Robin Hood, and picture myself as the hero of thrilling adventures, but quite soon my “story” ceased to be narcissistic in a crude way and became more and more a mere description of what I was doing and the things I saw.

  一连几分钟,我脑子里常会有类似这样的描述:“他推开门,走进屋,一缕黄昏的阳光,透过薄纱窗帘,斜照在桌上。桌上有一个火柴盒,半开着,在墨水瓶旁边,他右手插在兜里,朝窗户走去。街心处一只龟甲猫正在追逐着一片败叶。”等等,等等。

  For minutes at a time this kind of thing would be running through my head: “He pushed the door open and entered the room. A yellow beam of sunlight, filtering through the muslin curtains, slanted on to the table, where a matchbox, half open, lay beside the inkpot. With his right hand in his pocket he moved across to the window. Down in the street a tortoiseshell cat was chasing a dead leaf,” etc., etc.

  我在差不多25岁真正从事文学创作之前,一直保持着这种描述习惯。虽然我必须搜寻,而且也的确在寻觅恰如其分的字眼。可这种描述似乎是不由自主的,是迫于一种外界的压力。

  This habit continued till I was about twenty-five, right through my non-literary years. Although I had to search, and did search, for the right words, I seemed to be making this descriptive effort almost against my will, under a kind of compulsion from outside.

  我在不同时期崇仰风格各异的作家。我想,从这些“故事”一定能看出这些作家的文笔风格的痕迹。但是我记得,这些描述又总是一样地细致入微,纤毫毕现。

  The “story” must, I suppose, have reflected the styles of the various writers I admired at different ages, but so far as I remember it always had the same meticulous descriptive quality.

  16岁那年,我突然发现词语本身即词的音响和词的连缀就能给人以愉悦。《失乐园》中有这样一段诗行:

  他负载着困难和辛劳

  挺进着:负着困难辛劳的他——

  When I was about sixteen I suddenly discovered the joy of mere words, i, e. the sounds and associations of words. The lines from Paradise Lost —

  “So hee with difficulty and labour hard

  Moved on: with difficulty and labour hee,“

  现在看来这并没有什么了不得,可当时却使我心灵震颤。而用hee的拼写代替he,更增加了愉悦。

  which do not now seem to me so very wonderful, sent shivers down my backbone; and the spelling “hee” for “he” was an added pleasure.

  至于写景物的必要,我那时已深有领悟。如果说当时我有志著书的话,我会写什么样的书是显而易见的。

  As for the need to describe things, I knew all about it already. So it is clear what kind of books I wanted to write, in so far as I could be said to want to write books at that time.

  我想写大部头的自然主义小说,以悲剧结局,充满细致的描写和惊人的比喻,而且不乏文才斐然的段落,字词的使用部分要求其音响效果。

  I wanted to write enormous naturalistic novels with unhappy endings, full of detailed descriptions and arresting similes, and also full of purple passages in which words were used partly for the sake of their sound.

  事实上,我的第一部小说,《缅甸岁月》就属于这一类书,那是我早已构思但30岁时才写成的作品。

  And in fact my first completed novel, Burmese Days, which I wrote when I was thirty but projected much earlier, is rather that kind of book.

  我介绍这些背景情况是因为我认为要判定一个作家的写作动机,就得对其早年的经历有所了解。

  I give all this background information because I do not think one can assess a writer's motives without knowing something of his early development.

  作家的题材总是由他所处的时代决定的,至少在我们这个动荡不安的时代是如此。但他在提笔著文之前,总会养成一种在后来的创作中永远不能彻底磨灭的情感倾向

  His subject matter will be determined by the age he lives in —at least this is true in tumultuous, revolutionary ages like our own—but before he ever begins to write he will have acquired an emotional attitude from which he will never completely escape.

  毫无疑问,作家有责任控制自己的禀性,使之不至于沉溺于那种幼稚的阶段,或陷于违反常理的心境中。但如果他从早年的熏染和志趣中脱胎换骨,他就会虐杀自己的写作热情。

  It is his job, no doubt, to discipline his temperament and avoid getting stuck at some immature stage, or in some perverse mood: but if he escapes from his early influences altogether, he will have killed his impulse to write.

  除去以写作为谋生之计不谈,我认为写作有四种动机,至少小说和散文写作是如此。

  Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose.

  这四种动机或多或少地存在于每个作家身上,在某一个作家身上,它们会因时代的不同和生活环境的不同而变化。它们是:

  They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:

  一、纯粹的自我主义。想显示自己的聪明;想成为人们的议论中心;想身后留名;想报复那些小时候压制、指责过自己的成年人等等。不承认这是动机,是一种强烈的动机,完全是自欺欺人。

  (1) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc. , etc. It is humbug to pretend that this is not a motive, and a strong one. . .

  二、对美的狂热。能感觉身外世界的美,或者词语及其妙语连珠的美。对一个读音作用于另一个读音的音响效果,对充实缜密的行文或一篇小说的结构,感到乐趣无穷,赏心悦目。有心与人们分享一种认为有价值、不应忽略的经历。

  (2) Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed…

  三、历史感。有志按事物的原貌来观察理解事物;有心寻找确凿的事实,收集储存以飨后人。

  (3) Historical impulse. Desire to see things, as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

  四、政治上的目的。这里指的是最广泛意义的政治:有志推动世界向某个方向前进;改造人们的观念,劝勉人们追求某种理想社会。就像美感因素一样,没有一本书能真正消除政治倾向。那种认为艺术与政治不相干的论点本身就是一种政治态度。

  (4) Political purpose —using the word “political” in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to ater other people's idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

  可以看出,这些不同的动机会互相抵触,会因人因时发生变化。

  It can be seen how these various impulses must war against one another, and how they must fluctuate from person to person and from time to time.

  由于我的天性——“天性”这里指刚成年时的状态,在我身上前三种动机远远超过第四种。

  By nature —taking your “nature” to be the state you have attained when you are first adult—I am a person in whom the first three motives would outweigh the fourth.

  在和平年代,我或许会写些词藻华美或专写事物写景的书,几乎意识不到我政治上的取舍。

  In a peaceful age! might have written ornate or merely descriptive books, and might have remained almost unaware of my political loyalties.

  可结果我却不得不成了一个写小册子的作家。

  As it is I have been forced into becoming a sort of pamphleteer.

  最初,我在一个很不合适的职业中度过了5年,那是在缅甸的印度帝国警察署。随后,我经历了贫困,体会到穷困窘迫是何滋味。这使我对权势的本能的嫉妒变得更强烈,我开始意识到劳动阶级的存在,缅甸的职业使我对帝国主义的本质有所了解,但这一切并不足以赋予我明确的政治倾向。

  First I spent five years in an unsuitable profession (the Indian Imperial Police, in Burma), and then I underwent poverty and the sense of failure. This increased my natural hatred of authority and made me for the firs t time fully aware of the existence of the working classes, and the job in Burma had given me some understanding of the nature of imperialism; but these experiences were not enough to give me an accurate political orientation.

  接着希特勒出现了,西班牙战争爆发了,各种事件频频发生。

  Then came Hitler, the Spanish Civil War, etc.

  到1935年底,我仍没有能决定何去何从。西班牙内战以及1936至1937年之间的其他事件扭转了这种状况,从此我认准了我的立场。

  By the end of 1935 I had still failed to reach a firm decision. The Spanish war and other events in 1936 - 1937 turned the scale and thereafter I know where I stood.

  1936年以来,我的严肃作品中的每一行都是为间接或直接地反对极权主义,拥护我所理解的民主社会主义而写的。

  Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.

  认为在我们这样的年代,作家可以回避这种题材,在我看来是无稽之谈。

  It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects.

  每个人都以这样那样的方式写这个题材。

  Everyone writes of them in one guise or another.

  这其实就是站在哪一边,取什么态度的问题。

  It is simply a question of which side one takes and what approach one follows.

  一个人越是意识到自己的政治态度,他越是有可能按政治行事而又不牺牲自己在美感和心智方面的追求。

  And the more one is conscious of one's political bias, the more chance one has of acting politically without sacrificing one's aesthetic and intellectual integrity.

  在过去的十年中,我最大的愿望是把政治色彩的写作变成艺术创造。

  What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art.

  我的出发点总是一种党派意识,一种对非正义的敏感。

  My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice.

  我坐下来写书时,不会自语道:“现在我要创造一个艺术作品了。”

  When I sit down to write a book I do not say to myself, “I am going to produce a work of art. ”

  写作是为了揭发某种谎言,为了让人们重视某些事实。我的初衷总是向读者披露心声,赢得听众。

  I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.

  然而,写作必须同时又是一种美感经验。否则,我就无法完成著书的工作,甚至连一篇长篇的报刊文章都写不成。

  But I could not do the work of writing a book, or even a long magazine article, if it were not also an aesthetic experience.

  任何一位有心细读我的作品的读者都会发现,即使作品是直截了当的宣传鼓励,也包含着许多职业政客视为节外生枝的点缀。

  Anyone who cares to examine my work will see that even when it is downright propaganda it contains much that a full-time politician would consider irrelevant.

  我不能,也不愿意完全放弃我在童年时养成的世界观。

  I am not able, and I do not want, completely to abandon the world-view that I acquired in childhood.

  只要我还活着,我仍会继续讲究文笔风格,热爱大地的山川胜景,对琐细的物品和无用的传闻感到欣悦。

  So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take a pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information.

  要抑制我这方面的本能是无济于事的。我的任务是把个人根深蒂固的好恶与时代强加于我们大家的政治活动协调起来。

  It is no use trying to suppress that side of myself. The job is to reconcile my ingrained likes and dislikes with the essentially public, non-individual activities that this age forces on all of us.

  这并不容易。这会产生构思及语言的问题。而真实性也以新的方式出现了疑问。

  It is not easy. It raises problems of construction and of language, and it raises in a new way the problem of truthfulness. . .

  这个问题以各种各样的形态出现。

  In one form or another this problem comes up again.

  语言则是个更微妙的问题,得花费很大的工夫讨论。

  The problem of language is subtler and would take too long to discuss.

  这里我只能说,近几年来,我竭力减少生动形象的描写,尽量写得更谨严简练。

  I will only say that of late years I have tried to write less picturesquely and more exactly.

  我发现一位作家一旦使某种文笔风格臻于完善,他也就已经超越了这种风格。

  In any case I find that by the time you have perfected any style of writing, you have always outgrown it.

  《动物庄园》一书便是我在有意识有计划地把政治目的和艺术追求结合为一体的尝试。

  Animal Farm was the first book in which I tried, with full consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole.

  我已经7年没写小说了,但我希望不久能写一部。

  I have not written a novel for seven years, but I hope to write another fairly soon.

  这部小说注定会成败笔,每次完成的作品都觉得处处是败笔,但我清楚地知道我要写什么样的书。

  It is bound to be a failure, every book is a failure, but I do know with some clarity what kind of book I want to write.

  写作是一场可怕的劳心伤神的斗争,犹如一场恶病长时间发作。

  …Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.

  要不是被一种既不可抗拒又不可理喻的鬼怪驱使,没人愿意从事写作。

  One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

  这种魔怪不外乎是婴儿嚎啕以引起人注意的本能。

  For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention.

  但话又说回来,作家若不能努力隐去自己的个性,他便写不出什么值得一读的东西。

  And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one's own personality.

  好文章是一块透亮的窗玻璃。

  Good prose is like a window pane.

  我不能肯定地说我的哪一种动机最强,但我知道哪一个目标我必须遵循。

  I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed.

  回顾我的创作,我发现,什么时候缺乏政治目的,什么时候我就会写出毫无生气的书,就会坠入华而不实的篇章,写出毫无意义的句子,卖弄矫饰的形容词和堆砌一大堆空话废话。

  And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaninmeaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.

本文转载链接:《高级英语》课文逐句翻译(12)

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