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译文精选:阅读让你对自己刮目相看

2015-04-03    来源:yeeyan.org    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

阅读 让你对自己刮目相看
The Pleasure of Reading to Impress Yourself

【译文精选】

Not long ago, I unearthed a notebook I had long ago misplaced: a small blue ledger in which, for a period of about four years, I recorded the title of each book I was reading as I finished it. The record begins in mid-July of 1983, around the outset of the summer break before my penultimate year of high school, and the first book listed is “Dr. Zhivago,” by Boris Pasternak. I don’t remember reading that book, or why I thought that the reading of it merited the instigation of a list. Likely, I had a sense that Russian literature was important, but nobody had yet pointed me in the direction of Tolstoy. Next up was Maxim Gorky, “The Life of a Useless Man.” (Ditto.) Before the month was out, I had torn through “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” in a single day—I certainly remember that experience—and had also dispatched with “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”
不久前,我扒出一本失落很久的笔记,那是一个小小的蓝色本子,上面记载了一连串书名。时光倒流到1983年,高中二年级的暑假刚刚开始,我读完鲍里斯·帕斯特纳克的《日瓦戈医生》,便在本子上记下了书名。那是7月中旬,从此每读一本书,便有一个书名留在本子上,这习惯一直保持了大约四年。时至今日,我早已不记得读过《日瓦戈医生》了,也不知道当时为什么觉得读这本书值得记下一笔。也许,我觉得俄语文学很重要,不过那时还没有人引导我接触到列夫托尔斯泰。紧接着的第二本书情况类似,是马克西姆·高尔基的《无用人的一生》。7月末,我用一天不到的时间读完《查特莱夫人的情人》(这一经历仍历历在目),还很快地读完了《青年艺术家肖像》。

Leafing through the notebook provides me with the pleasure of recovering a cache of long-lost photographs. Some of the images are out of focus, some feature individuals whose names have long been forgotten, and others provide moments of sharp recognition. In February, 1984, under the influence of a boyfriend who fancied himself a Wildean wit, I read “The Importance of Being Earnest.” (You never forget your first aphorist.) That March, I read “The Trial,” which I vaguely recall being recommended to me by some other young man of high seriousness and literary inclination—but precisely which such young man now escapes me. The May that I was seventeen, I read “Middlemarch” in the space of two weeks, a reminder of how little else there was to do in my narrow English coastal town. The Wildean boyfriend lived, exotically enough, in distant London, a useful arrangement if one is developing a taste for nineteenth-century novels. A couple of months later, I consumed “Daniel Deronda” in two weeks, too.
翻阅着笔记本,我开心得好像发现了一盒遗失多年的旧照:有的照片已经模糊,看不清人影,有的照片徒有形象却早已叫不出那人的名字,另一些照片却清晰可辨。我那时的男朋友以王尔德式的才子自许,在他影响下,我在1984年2月读了《不可儿戏》,平生头一次碰到那么多妙语警句,至今难忘。3月,我读了《审判》,依稀记得推荐这本书给我的小伙子极为严肃、热爱文学,但我已经记不清到底是哪一位了。那年5月,我17岁了,两周内读完《米德尔马契》。除了阅读,我在故乡英格兰海滨小镇真的百无聊赖。很奇怪,我的才子男友那时住在伦敦,千里迢迢,不过对于正热衷于十九世纪小说的我来说,倒也不无裨益。几个月后,我又用两周时间读完了《丹尼尔·德龙达》。

I made no record of what I thought of any of these books; in my private Goodreads list, there is no starring system. There’s no indication of why I chose the works I did, though since I bought most of my books cheaply, in secondhand shops, the selection was somewhat dictated by availability. (That probably explains why my first Henry James, in July, 1984, was “The Europeans,” rather than “The Portrait of a Lady.”) Most of them were not assigned texts, at least in the years before I went to university, though there is a certain inevitability about the appearance of many of them: it is axiomatic that a young woman who reads will discover “The Bell Jar,” as I did in September, 1984. This was a curriculum stumbled into: a few titles culled from the shelves at home; others coming my way from friends at school; and yet others recommended mostly by the Penguin Classics logo on their spine.
这些书我都没有写读后感,它们被一一列入“好书”单,不分三六九等。至于为什么选了这本没选那本也没有规律可循。鉴于我大多在二手书店淘便宜货,也许只是碰上了而已。(1984年7月,我读的第一本亨利·詹姆斯,是《欧洲人》,而非更具代表性的《一位女士的肖像》,想来也是相同道理。)书单中大部分书都不是老师指定的必读书目,至少在上大学前的两年里,都不是。不过,很多书的出现都有着某种必然性。比如,一个嗜书的文学女青年理所当然会发现《钟形罩》,正如我在1984年9月与之相遇一样。这些书随兴所至,倒也可观:有些从我自己的藏书中挑选出来,有些是恰好同学那里有,就借了来,还有一些则大都因为书脊上“企鹅经典”的标志,让人招架不住。

My list has its limitations. It’s weighted toward classics of English literature from the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, and, apart from excursions into the Russians and Europeans, it doesn’t range very widely geographically. There was little contemporary literature on it until I discovered the riches of the Picador paperback imprint, while at college. (Milan Kundera, Julian Barnes, Salman Rushdie, Gabriel García Márquez, Italo Calvino, Ian McEwan.) The notebook fizzles out in 1987, around my twenty-first birthday, by which time I was not only studying literature but also reviewing books for a student magazine. One of those was the last title on my list: “Mensonge,” a satire of literary post-structuralism, by the British campus novelist Malcolm Bradbury. That it was this book that killed off my catalogue—which in my college years encompassed Chaucer, Dante, Milton, Donne, Shelley, Coleridge, Eliot, Yeats—strikes me as what the deconstructionists used to call ludic.
不过我的书单也有局限。书目主要偏向19世纪以及20世纪上半叶的英语文学经典,除此以外只稍稍涉猎几部俄语和欧洲文学作品,地域性不够宽广。而且书单上几乎没有当代文学作品,因为直到上了大学,我才开始接触到骑马斗牛士出版社出版的丰富的平装文学书(包括米兰·昆德拉、朱利安·巴恩斯、萨尔曼·拉什迪、加夫列尔·加西亚·马尔克斯、伊塔洛·卡尔维诺、伊恩·麦克尤恩等人的作品)。1987年,我一边主修文学,一边给一本学生刊物写书评。就在快要21岁生日的时候,我的笔记戛然而止了。书单上最后一本书,是英国学界小说家马尔科姆·布雷德伯里的《谎言》,一部针对后结构主义文学的讽刺作品。在这之前,大学后的我又在书单上添了乔叟、但丁、弥尔顿、邓恩、雪莱、柯勒律治、艾略特、叶芝等人的名字,没想到它居然就断送在这本书手里,真是想不到,只能借用解构主义者常说的“好笑”来形容了。

After I found the notebook, I tweeted an image of one of its pages, which covered four months of my reading at the age of seventeen. Among the titles were “Great Expectations,” “The Waves,” three Austens, and two Fitzgeralds, as well as books by Elias Canetti, Dostoyevsky, and William Golding, for whom, the notebook reminds me, I had a particular taste at the time. One response: “No fun reads or guilty pleasures?”
在发现这本笔记之后,我把其中一页拍照并放到了推特上,那是17岁那年四个月的阅读记录,包括了《远大前程》、《海浪》、3本奥斯汀、2本菲茨杰拉德,还有艾利亚斯·卡内蒂、陀思妥耶夫斯基、威廉·戈尔丁的作品。(要不是这本笔记,我还真忘了自已那时是戈尔丁的粉丝。)结果有人回复说:“该看没劲的书,还是让自己放纵快乐的书?”

It’s a common and easy enough distinction, this separation of books into those we read because we want to and those we read because we have to, and it serves as a useful marketing trope for publishers,especially when they are trying to get readers to take this book rather than that one to the beach. But it’s a flawed and pernicious division. This linking of pleasure and guilt is intended as an enticement, not as an admonition: reading for guilty pleasure is like letting one’s diet slide for a day—naughty but relatively harmless. The distinction partakes of a debased cultural Puritanism, which insists that the only fun to be had with a book is the frivolous kind, or that it’s necessarily a pleasure to read something accessible and easy. Associating pleasure and guilt in this way presumes an anterior, scolding authority—one which insists that reading must be work.
像这样把书本分成我们“想”读的和“不得不”读的,是一种十分简单也常见的区分法。出版商也把这种两分法当做有用的营销手段,对于打算去海边度假的人,在说服他们买这一本、而不买那一本的时候,这种方法特别管用。但这种区分存在缺陷,内藏陷阱。它把罪恶感和快乐联系到一起,与其说是劝诫,不如说是诱惑:阅读从而获得一种带罪恶感的快乐,就像节食的人在某一天胡吃海喝,虽然淘气但也无伤大雅。这种区分类似于某种低级的文化清教主义,认为一本书带给我们的唯一乐趣在于放松愉悦,或者说,浅显易懂的读物必定能带来快乐。将快乐和罪恶如此这般联系在一起,也即意味着还有一种渊源更深、求全责备的权威,那就是认为阅读一定是要努力才能完成的事。

But there are pleasures to be had from books beyond being lightly entertained. There is the pleasure of being challenged; the pleasure of feeling one’s range and capacities expanding; the pleasure of entering into an unfamiliar world, and being led into empathy with a consciousness very different from one’s own; the pleasure of knowing what others have already thought it worth knowing, and entering a larger conversation. Among my catalogue are some books that I am sure I was—to use an expression applied to elementary-school children—decoding rather than reading. Such, I suspect, was the case with “Ulysses,” a book I read at eighteen, without having first read “The Odyssey,” which might have deepened my appreciation of Joyce. Even so—and especially when considering adolescence—we should not underestimate the very real pleasure of being pleased with oneself. What my notebook offers me is a portrait of the reader as a young woman, or at the very least, a sketch. I wanted to read well, but I also wanted to become well read. The notebook is a small record of accomplishment, but it’s also an outline of large aspiration. There’s pleasure in ambition, too.
除了轻松休闲,阅读还带给我们更多乐趣。在阅读中,我们迎难而上,感到自己的界限和能力得到拓宽,进入陌生世界,与异己的观念产生共鸣,习得他人已经实践过并觉得值得学习的东西,与更多人对话,何其快乐!我敢说,书单里有一些书,我根本谈不上阅读,借用一下小学生的词汇,是破译天书。18岁那年阅读《尤利西斯》应该就是这种情况,如果那时我预先读过《奥德赛》,对乔伊斯的理解应该会更好。即使如此,我们,特别是青少年读者,不应该低估读书的真正快乐,那就是自我满足。我的笔记就还原了一个读书少女的形象,或者至少有那么一个轮廓,那个希望好好阅读、想要博览群书的我。笔记是个人成就的小小记录,也勾勒出一种远大的志向。抱负也让人快乐。

We have become accustomed to hearing commercial novelists express frustration with the ways in which their books are taken less seriously than ones that are deemed literary: book reviewers don’t pay them enough attention, while publishers give their works safe, predictable cover treatments. In this debate, academic arguments that have been conducted for more than a generation, about the validity or otherwise of a literary canon, meet the marketplace. The debate has its merits, but less discussed has been the converse consequence of the popular-literary distinction: that literary works, especially those not written last year, are placed at the opposite pole to fun.
我们听惯了商业小说家们的牢骚,他们的作品没有得到认真对待,与公认的文学作品没法比:书评家不够重视,出版商也敷衍了事,封面设计只求稳当不管创意等等。关于文学标准合理与否,学术界的争论可谓久矣,但总是和市场不谋而合。争论自然有其价值,但有一点却很少被谈及,那就是把文学分为流行和纯文学产生一个弊端:纯文学作品,尤其是那些有些年头的作品,常常被放到了“有趣”的对立面。

My list reminds me of a time when I was more or less in ignorance of this proposition. It may not include any examples of what I later learned to call commercial fiction: I did not, for example, read “Hollywood Wives,” by Jackie Collins, which had been published the same year that I started the list, and I am not sure I had even heard of it. But I can’t imagine that it could have given me more delight than did the romantic travails that ironically unfold in “Emma,” or that its satisfactions could possibly have been greater than those offered by the lyricism and very adult drama of “Tender is the Night.” The fallacy that the pleasures offered by reading must necessarily be pleasures to which a self-defeating sense of shame is attached offers a very impoverished definition of gratification, whatever book we choose to pull from the shelf.
书单则让我回想起一段青涩的岁月,那时我对这个问题多少还懵懂。里面没有我日后所知的所谓商业化小说。比如,就在我开始记录书单的那一年,杰姬·科林斯出版了《好莱坞的妻子们》,但我好像都不曾听说过。我想,无论如何,它都不会比《爱玛》和《夜色温柔》带来更好的阅读体验:《爱玛》颇具讽刺性地展示爱情中各种纠缠,读来趣味盎然,《夜色温柔》诗意又有十足的成人剧范儿,让人大呼过瘾。认为阅读之乐非得包含一种自我否定式的羞耻感是种谬见,我们随手从书架上取下任意一本书,阅读带来的满足感都远非如此单薄。

【原文来源:newyorker.com 作者:REBECCA MEAD 翻译来源:yeeyan.org 译者: noanoa】



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