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经济学人双语版:年轻与焦躁

2015-05-19    来源:网络    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

经济学人双语版:年轻与焦躁

Books and Arts; 文艺;

Book Review; 书评;

The young and the restless; 年轻与焦躁;

British and American fiction gets off to a promising start in 2010;
2010年英美小说闪亮开篇;

The Unnamed. By Joshua Ferris.
《莫名》,作者约书亚·费里斯。

VLADIMIR NABOKOV, who liked to observe other people, once declared that “professional book reviewers are veritable bookmakers”. They gleefully declare who's in, who's out, and ask: “Where are the snows of yesteryear?” Hot young novelists, many believe, are meant to follow a predictable script. First, burst onto the scene with some bold, voice-of-the-generation debut—preferably with a comely author photo. Then, years later, deliver to the expectant public a sophomore effort that is, alas, disappointing. Critics favour lamenting squandered promise to praising yet another fine book from someone with unlined skin.
喜欢评论他人的费拉迪米尔·纳博科夫曾经宣称“专业书评家是名副其实的庄家”,他们兴致勃勃地宣布谁是入时的,谁是落伍的,并问出“去年的雪在哪里?”这样的问题。许多走红的青年小说家都被认为是循着老套的模子走出来的。首先,在文艺界以大胆表露情感,代表时代之声的形象如惊雷般亮相出场——最好再有着英俊的长相。接着,在数年之后向期待中的大众呈上他一个黄毛小子呕心沥血的成果,然而,却只不过是令人失望的作品。批评家们倒也热衷于哀叹对于某位青年才俊又一部好作品尽溢美之词的许诺又无法兑现了。

Not all writers oblige. Occasionally, a well-known name, such as Peter Carey, an Australian, will go through a fallow period only to enjoy a return to form (see article); a rare few, having written a debut of note, then go on to pen an even better second book.
并非所有作家都是被迫写作的。间或也有像澳大利亚著名作家皮特·凯里这样的人,他将休笔一段时间,而这仅仅是为了调整自己的状态;极少有作家在完成一部佳作后还会继续创作另一部超越性的作品。

Joshua Ferris became an international success in 2007 with “Then We Came to the End”, a smart and breezy satire of office life in an advertising firm. Told in the collective first person, it was a stylish rendering of workplace ambivalence in the wake of the dotcom bust. (“We were delighted to have jobs. We bitched about them constantly.”) It wasn't perfect, but it was fresh, with pages that turned freely and unpretentiously. At 32, Mr Ferris—gracious, photogenic, based in Brooklyn—was anointed a writer to watch.
约书亚·费里斯在2007年因《当我们来到尽头》一书而享誉世界。在这本书中,他用富有智慧的语言及轻松愉快的笔调嘲讽了一个广告公司的办公室生活。全书用第一人称的口吻,生动的描述了在网络经济崩溃中觉醒的人们在工作场所的矛盾心理(我们为有一份工作而感到高兴,然而也时常抱怨)。这部作品并不完美,但体裁新颖,文风自在狂妄。在费里斯先生32岁的时候,他居住在布鲁克林,和蔼,上镜,就像上帝为我们挑选的作家。

Readers have not had long to wait for “The Unnamed”, his second novel. Anyone keen on another comedy of manners will be disappointed. So too will those who hoped to write off Mr Ferris as a victim of literary hype.
他的第二本书《莫名》并没有让读者们等太久。但那些期待着又一部风尚喜剧的人将会大失所望,同样会失望的还有那些希望费里斯先生被扼杀在文学炒作中的人。

From the opening page, he makes it plain that this is a very different book. “It was the cruellest winter. The winds were rabid off the rivers. Ice came down like poisoned darts…They were waiting for him. They didn't know they were waiting for him.” The novel seizes readers by the lapels with a story that feels serious and mysterious. Tim Farnsworth, a successful Manhattan lawyer in his 40s, returns home one night and declares to his wife, Jane, “It's back.” What's back? A strange, unknown disease—one that compels the hero to walk helplessly, incessantly, until he drops from exhaustion. After a reprieve, Tim is once again a victim of his wayward body, “the frightened soul inside the runaway train of mindless matter, peering out from the conductor's car in horror.”
在第一页作者就向我们展示了这本书的与众不同。“这是一个严酷的冬天。狂风卷过河面,冰屑像浸了毒的飞镖落下……他们正等着他。然而他们却并不知道。”小说开篇就用一种紧张神秘的气息抓住了读者。40多岁的缇姆·法恩斯沃思是曼哈顿有名的律师,一天晚上他回到家郑重地告诉妻子简说:“它又来了。”什么又来了?那是一种奇怪的不为人知的疾病——它让我们的主人公无助、不停地行走,直到精疲力竭。短暂的间歇之后,缇姆又会成为他失控身体的受害者,“他的躯体就像无缘由失控的列车,他的灵魂惊恐的向这车外望着。”

Tim is otherwise “horse-healthy” and content, a self-assured workaholic, devoted husband and father to a teenage daughter. But in a flash he is uncontrollably off, leaving his wife to find him passed out in a municipal parking place, a hospital or behind some chemist's shop in the middle of the night. “Was she up for this?” Jane asks herself. These spells last for months at a time, and caring for him is a full-time job. But Jane has no choice: he could die out there. So she reads survivalist manuals, prepares his pack (a first-aid kit, snacks, GPS, a poncho—to carry at all times), and then waits for the call to pick him up. The only alternative is to tie him to the bed and ignore his screams.
缇姆原本是一个健康,满足,自信的人,他醉心于工作,是一个衷心的丈夫,一个十几岁女孩的父亲。但是突然间他无法控制的想要走路,他的妻子三更半夜找到他时他出没在政府的停车场,医院,或者在一些药店的后面。“我要这么做吗?”简问自己。缇姆的病每次发作长达几个月,照顾他成了简的全职工作。但是简没有选择:他这样下去会死的。于是她阅读生存手册,为缇姆准备背包(一套急救装备,零食,全球定位系统,一件斗篷——时刻都带在缇姆身边),然后等电话去接他。除此之外就只能把他绑在床上,任由他叫喊了。

Doctors around the world have no idea what the problem is. Tim, alone in his mutinous body, is left wondering whether the trouble is in his head. Readers wonder about this too. Here Mr Ferris achieves a clever balance: Tim behaves strangely, but isn't that natural for anyone who loses the life he understood? Isn't madness inevitable when suffering from something no one can explain? A subplot about a murder trial, which yields a haunting exchange between Tim and a possible suspect on a bridge at night, raises more questions about his mental stability. Yet Jane stops speculating that her husband might be crazy after she goes through the menopause. She could only imagine how infuriating it would be if a doctor insisted her hot flushes were “all in her head”.
所有的医生都束手无策。缇姆的灵魂独自留在他失控的身体里,思考着是否他的大脑真的出了问题;读者们也在思考。在这里作者费里斯先生很高明的设置了两个难以抉择的判断:缇姆的行为是怪异的,但当一个人失去了他所能理解的生活时这不又是正常的吗?小说中有一个关于一起谋杀案的审判的次要情节,在审判过程中,缇姆在一个晚上同本案的嫌疑犯在一座桥上进行了一场令他难忘的交易,这也使他的精神状况越发不稳定。而此时简在经过她的更年期后也不再猜测丈夫可能患上了精神病。她能想象的到如果医生坚持说她的潮红症状都是她想出来的那将会是一件多么令人恼怒的事情。

Mr Ferris keeps his prose direct and uncluttered, with only occasional flourishes (Tim's feet “were like two engorged and squishy hearts”; a diner's “fluorescent brutality” is “the national colour of insomnia and transience”). His fondness for his characters sometimes veers towards the sentimental. Still, he exercises a mature writer's restraint, content to leave questions unanswered. He also has a fine ear for speech, and a good sense of what feels real, even when chronicling the surreal.
费里斯先生的散文依旧简洁明快,偶尔也会迸发出奇特的灵感(缇姆的双脚“就像两颗饱满、湿软的心脏”;一位用餐者的“野蛮行为散发的荧光”是“失眠症和暂时性的名族色彩”)。他热爱自己笔下的人物,但不见得完全受感情的支配,他依旧会运用成熟作家的控制力,遗留一些未给出答案的问题。他还可以清醒地聆听演讲,对真实的事物有着良好的感受力,即使是在将超现实的事情载入编年史的时候。

Mr Ferris insists that “The Unnamed” is not a work of magical realism, but of “realist magic”. By inventing an incurable disease, he can meditate on its impact—on a marriage, on a career, on a character's self-esteem—without dragging in the baggage of a familiar illness. This also amplifies the horror, leaving readers just as perplexed about what is afflicting Tim. Is this a physical or mental problem? Can a line be drawn between the two? In the last third of the book, Tim gives himself over to his need to walk. Raving and deteriorating, he lets his legs take him across the country, living a hobo's life without possessions or attachments (“To own something was to keep it on his back or risk losing it forever”). Yet Tim's dilemmas still feel real and his needs sympathetic. How does he go on? How does anyone?
费里斯先生坚持《莫名》并不是一部“魔幻现实主义”的作品,而是一部“现实魔幻小说”。他能够通过创造一种难以治愈的疾病来思考它对于婚姻,事业或者主人公自尊心的影响——而不是通过某种司空见惯的疾病。也正是这样,小说又加深了它带来的恐惧感,使读者对缇姆痛苦的原因困惑不解,到底是生理的还是心理的问题呢?这两者之间能不能画出一条分界线?在小说后三分之一的部分,缇姆放弃了一切去满足自己行走的需要。他任由自己的双腿穿越整个国家,咆哮着,病情不断恶化,他过上了流浪者的生活,没有财产,没有携带任何附属装置(“拥有某物就是一直将他背在背上或者冒着永远失去它的危险”)。但缇姆的困境始终可以被真实的感知,并且他需要人们的同情。他会怎么样?其他人呢?

This is a story about a man with a walking problem, but it is also a larger tale about struggling with uncertainty. Scattered throughout the novel are some odd events: blizzards, floods, fires, dying bees. Mr Ferris is reminding us of how little we know about the world we live in, and how little we know about ourselves within it, and yet we persist. This is not to say that Tim's walking is some clunky metaphor. Mr Ferris is wise enough not to teach a lesson. Rather, he has teased ordinary circumstances into something extraordinary, which is exactly what we want our fiction writers to do.
这是一个关于行走强迫症患者的故事,更是一部描述了于不确定中的挣扎的作品。小说中充斥着古怪的事件:暴风雪、洪水、大火、垂死的蜜蜂。费里斯先生让我们意识到我们对于我们生存之世界及我们自己是多么的不了解,然而我们仍旧存在。这并不是说缇姆的行路癖是一个拙劣的隐喻,菲尔斯先生有足够的智慧使他的作品不流于说教。相反地,他把一些平常的事件夸大并进行了嘲讽,而这也正是我们期待着作家做的。

veritable adj. 真正的,名副其实的

sophomore n. 大学二年级生;(美)有二年经验的人

expectant adj. 期待的;怀孕的;预期中的

lamenting adj. 悲伤的;悲哀的

ambivalence n. [心理] 矛盾情绪;正反感情并存

gracious adj. 亲切的;高尚的;和蔼的;雅致的

photogenic adj. 上照的;适于摄影的;由光导致的

survivalist n. 活命主义者;成功地活下来的人

menopause n. 更年期;活动终止期

transience n. 短暂;无常;顷刻(等于transiency)

clunky adj. 沉重的;影响不好的



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