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经济学人双语版:雄文胜武

2015-01-13    来源:网络    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

经济学人:雄文胜武

Books and Arts; 文艺;

Book Review; 书评;

Political philosophy; 政治哲学;

Mightier than the sword; 雄文胜武;

The collected thoughts on this, that and the other of two clever men;

两位智者对于世间百态的思想汇聚;

When writers are grand enough, they can produce books by recycling their journalism, lectures, academic papers and other jottings. Sometimes that can seem dated and lazy. Sometimes it is a treat: the assorted pieces come together to create a great mosaic. Neither “Facts are Subversive” by Timothy Garton Ash, an Oxford-based writer and academic, nor “Gray's Anatomy” by John Gray, a political philosopher, fall into the first trap (or at least very rarely). They are both good reads. But neither quite reaches the goal of the whole being more interesting than the parts.
当作者之声名足够显赫时,他们只需将其新闻稿件、讲演录、学术论文以及其他只言片语回炉再加工一番,新书便告完成。有时,这种做法似乎是在偷工减料地翻炒冷饭;有时,它却为读者奉上一场新的盛宴:混杂的碎片化零为整,一幅伟大的镶嵌作品从中诞生。无论是由身处牛津的作家与学者——提摩西•加顿•阿什所著之《事实方具颠覆性》,还是政治哲学家约翰•格雷的作品——《格雷剖析录》,都未陷入前一种窘境(至少基本上如此),两者皆为优秀的读物;不过,它们也未完全实现令整体胜于部分的目标。

Mr. Garton Ash is incapable of writing a dull article. Unlike some famous-name writers, he is proud to be a reporter: whatever the subject, he digs diligently. He observes sharply and with a dry donnish wit that deserves greater play. A remarkable wordsmith, at his best he has an echo of one of his great heroes, George Orwell. The pieces range from his first stamping-grounds of Germany and central Europe to the bigger themes he took on later (such as Britain's neurotic “don't know, don't trust, don't care” relationship with Europe) and to more exotic places, including Brazil, Iran and Myanmar.
加顿•阿什不会撰写那些干涩无趣的文章,与某些知名作家不同,他为身为记者而自豪:无论面对何种主题,他都会勤奋挖掘素材。其评论一针见血,字里行间所透出之学究式的冷冷嘲讽,让人读来不禁有大材小用之叹。这位非凡的语言大师在其巅峰时期,甚至能在笔下中重现乔治•奥威尔当年的风采,而后者正是加顿•阿什心目中的伟大英雄人物之一。本书收录的零散作品,其范围从他最初频繁涉足的德国与中欧,延伸到他于日后挑战的更大主题(英国与欧洲之间神经质一般的“不知、不信、不顾”关系便为一例),并一直远达更富异域情调的地区,其中包括巴西、伊朗和缅甸。

His aim is to chronicle the history of the “nameless decade”, the period that began with the terrorist attacks on America in September 2001 and ended with the election of Barack Obama last year. The subjects encompassed in that time include authoritarian governments, the challenge to liberalism raised by Islam and the corrosive combination of the Bush administration's bungled foreign policy and Europe's unthinking anti-Americanism.
加顿•阿什旨在为“无名年代”修史,这一时期始于2001年九月美国所受之恐怖袭击,止于去年巴拉克•奥巴马当选。其间所含的主题包括威权主义政府、伊斯兰教向自由主义发起的挑战,以及由布什政府的外交失策与欧洲轻率的反美思潮所构成之恶性结合。

But Mr. Garton Ash's silver nib wiggles past those constraints. The best essays in the book are timeless. One is a nuanced and convincing piece, both sympathetic and devastating, about Günter Grass, the German novelist, who revealed in his memoirs that he had briefly been in the Waffen SS. Did that taint Mr. Grass's books, or his role in public life, or both or neither? Was it the wartime service that was shameful, or its concealment over decades? Mr Garton Ash brings the reader sure-footedly through the thickets of Germany's post-war history and through the marshy ground of moral relativism. He points to the real scandal: that Mr. Grass was himself so casually splenetic over so many years about other people's shortcomings, while concealing his own.
不过加顿•阿什的妙笔却如行云流水一般无拘无束,书中最佳的作品并不为时代背景所累。其中,关于德国小说家君特•格拉斯的一篇文章细致入微、令人信服,字词间既存有恻隐,又不留情面;这位德国作家在其回忆录中透露,当年曾短暂效力于纳粹党卫军。这段历史是令其著作黯然失色?还是使他在公共生活中所扮演的角色沾上污点?或者说两者都未能幸免,抑或皆不受其影响?究竟是战时服役一事令其蒙羞,还是日后数十年之隐瞒为人不齿?在加顿•阿什的带领下,读者们步履稳健地穿过了德国战后历史的迷宫,走出了道德相对主义的泥潭,真正的丑行被他指出:这么多年以来,格拉斯在给自己遮羞的同时,却对他人的短处如此随意地表现出义愤填膺之状。

Another excellent piece touches on a comparable issue: the list of suspected communist sympathizers that Orwell supplied to the British authorities in 1949. Again, Mr. Garton Ash is scrupulously fair, highlighting Orwell's sincere (and justifiable) fear of communist infiltration, as well as his fumbling feelings for Celia Kirwan, the British official involved.
另一篇杰作则涉及到一个与前例有可比性的话题:奥威尔于1949年向英国当局提交的那份共产主义疑似同情者的名单。加顿•阿什再一次地表现出了一丝不苟的公正态度,在文中强调了奥威尔对共产主义渗透行为的真切恐惧(这种恐惧也非杞人忧天),以及他对希莲•柯雯(涉及此事的英国官员)所抱有的为爱所醉之情。

Some of the reworked articles are commendable journalism, but do not quite stand the test of time. Mr Garton Ash's observations from his trip to Iran in 2005 seem a bit whiskery now. It is nostalgic to read about the fall of crony capitalism in Ukraine five years ago. But the reader is left hankering to know what Mr. Garton Ash thinks about the mess that has succeeded it. A fiercer editor might have left out such pieces, and pruned the author's occasional lapses into self-indulgence (using “proleptic” once is fine, twice is tiresome). That may not matter in individual newspaper columns. It jars when collected in a book.
在经过重新修订的文章中,有一些是可圈可点的新闻稿件,不过它们并不能完全经受住时间的考验。加顿•阿什从其2005年伊朗之行中得出的观察结论在今天看来已有几分过时;他关于五年前权贵资本主义在乌克兰垮台的文章,如今读来确实令人怀念往昔;但读者们想了解加顿•阿什对于政权更迭之后的乱局有何见解的渴望却未得到满足。换做一位下手更狠的编辑,此类文章大概会被略去,而作者偶然的败笔也会被修剪成随性之举的模样(比如,“预期中”一词若只用一次颇为出彩,但再用一次便会令人审美疲劳)。对于个别的报纸专栏而言,出现这一问题可能无伤大雅;但汇集成书后,它便显得甚为刺眼。

Mr. Gray's book is darker, grittier and more ambitious. Mr. Garton Ash is happy to lambast the West's specific shortcomings but Mr. Gray sets out to unpick the shallow philosophical foundations of the whole edifice, in particular the modern myths about progress and perfectibility. He demolishes the theory that we have reached the “end of history”, the dogmas of secular liberalism, the weaknesses of financial casino capitalism and the limits of energy-intensive economic growth. Such targets deserve his scrutiny and Mr. Gray's criticisms are cogent. But he tends to overdo it. Again and again (and again) he attacks the people he calls “neoliberals” without pinning down whom (apart from Tony Blair) he is attacking. The reader is left feeling a straw man has been dissected.
格雷的著作则更富阴郁而强硬的气息,其创作野心也更为远大。加顿•阿什乐于抨击西方存在的具体缺陷,但格雷却着手拆解整个体系的浅薄哲学根基,尤其是关于进步和完美性的现代神话。在他的笔下,人类已达到“历史的终结”之理论,世俗自由主义的教义、金融赌场资本主义(的种种缺陷)以及能源密集型经济增长(的极限)被一一推翻。由格雷对此类问题加以缜密研究,实非牛刀杀鸡之举,而其批判也颇为中肯;不过他却往往走得太远,一次一次(又一次)地,格雷对他所称的“新自由主义者”加以口诛笔伐,然而却几乎从不指明其具体的抨击对象(托尼•布莱尔是一个例外)。这让读者们不禁感到,格雷所剖开的只是一个稻草人而已。

The finest pieces in Mr. Gray's book are satire. One is a Swiftian essay in favour of torture (which some serious-minded lefties took at face value). Even better is a devastating parody of the Marxist approach to linguistics, involving a (fictional) visit by Ludwig Wittgenstein to the Soviet Union, and his relationship with an (invented) Hungarian academic, L. Revai, who idealizes the grunts of slave labourers as a proletarian Ursprache.
此书中最好的作品当属讽刺文学。一篇支持酷刑(某些一本正经的左翼人士便未能辨出其弦外之音)的斯威夫特式随笔可算在其中;而另一篇极佳的戏仿之作更令人叫绝,此文模仿了语言学的马克思主义研究模式,其情节包括路德维希•维特根斯坦对苏联的一次(虚构的)访问,以及他与(作者创造出的)匈牙利学者L•列瓦伊的交往,这位匈牙利学者将奴工的咕哝声理想化,将之提升至无产阶级原始语的高度。

In Mr Gray's most substantial essay, “An agenda for Green conservatism”, he attempts to rescue conservatism from the ideological excesses of the 1980s. This is a thought-provoking enterprise, deserving a book on its own. But if it became a book, the author's views on such things as the failings of professional monopolies in education and health would benefit from more statistics and fewer assertions—calling, perhaps, for investment in a researcher.
而在其最有分量的文章“绿色保守主义之议程”中,格雷试图将保守主义从二十世纪八十年代的意识形态泛滥中拯救出来。这一尝试之举引人深思,话题本身甚至值得以专著加以探讨。但若果真成书,那么作者对诸如教育与健康领域职业垄断的失败等议题所持有的见解,便需从更多的统计数据中获益,而凭空断言在其中所起的作用则应减少——这可能需要在研究者方面的投入。

As Mr Garton Ash rightly points out, it is facts, ultimately, that are subversive.
正如加顿•阿什恰如其分之言:最终,具有颠覆性的其实还是事实。



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