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作为技巧的艺术情势&quot

(2011-09-24 17:49:23)
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杂谈

  Hidden Within Technology’s Empire, a Republic of Letters

  暗藏于技术帝国的文学界

  原著:索尔•贝娄 翻译:曹明伦

  When I was a boy “discovering literature”, I used to think how wonderful it would be if every other person on the street were familiar with Proust and Joyce or T. E. Lawrence or Pasternak and Kafka. Later I learned how refractory to high culture the democratic masses were. Lincoln as a young frontiersman read Plutarch, Shakespeare and the Bible. But then he was Lincoln.

  我还是个"摸索文学"的少年时,就时常在想:要是大巷上人人都熟悉普鲁斯特和乔伊斯,熟悉T.E.劳伦斯,熟习帕斯捷尔纳克和卡夫卡,该有多好啊!后来才知道,布衣庶民对高雅文化有多排挤。虽说少年时代身居边境的林肯就在阅读普鲁塔克,、莎士比亚和《圣经》,但他究竟是林肯。

  Later when I was traveling in the Midwest by car, bus and train, I regularly visited small-town libraries and found that readers in Keokuk, Iowa, or Benton Harbor, Mich., were checking out Proust and Joyce and even Svevo and Andrei Biely. D. H. Lawrence was also a favorite. And sometimes I remembered that God was willing to spare Sodom for the sake of 10 of the righteous. Not that Keokuk was anything like wicked Sodom, or that Proust’s Charlus would have been tempted to settle in Benton Harbor, Mich. I seem to have had a persistent democratic desire to find evidences of high culture in the most unlikely places.

  后来,我坐小车、巴士和火车在中西部旅行,常常访问小镇藏书楼;发当初衣阿华州基奥卡克市,或者密歇根州本顿港市,读者们借阅普鲁斯特和乔伊斯的作品,甚至还有斯维沃@和安德烈•别雷®的著述。D. H.劳伦斯的书也深受欢送。有时我会想起上帝愿为十个义人而宽恕所多玛城的故事^并非基�卡克市和邪恶的所多玛有何类似之处,也并非普鲁斯特笔下的夏吕斯®想移居密西根州的本顿港,只不外我仿佛始终有一种开明的主意,盼望在最难觅文雅文化的处所找到高雅文明的证据。

  For many decades now I have been a fiction writer, and from the first I was aware that mine was a questionable occupation. In the 1930’s an elderly neighbor in Chicago told me that he wrote fiction for the pulps. “The people on the block wonder why I don’t go to a job, and I’m seen puttering around, trimming the bushes or painting a fence instead of working in a factory. But I’m a writer. I sell to Argosy and Doc Savage,” he said with a certain gloom. “They wouldn’t call that a trade.” Probably he noticed that I was a bookish boy, likely to sympathize with him, and perhaps he was trying to warn me to avoid being unlike others. But it was too late for that.

  至今,我已写了几十年小说,而且一开始就意识到,这是个颇有争议的职业。20世纪30年代,芝加哥一位年长的街坊告诉我,他给通俗杂志写小说。"街坊邻里都纳闷,为什么不去上班,却见我游来荡去,修剪修剪树木,粉刷粉刷竹篱,就是不去工厂干活儿。可我是作家啊,稿子卖给《大商船》和《萨维奇医生》⑦那些杂志,"他谈话时神色有些抑郁。"他们不会把这当作正事儿。"他很可能已经发觉到,我是个爱好读书的孩子,兴许会与他发生共识,或者他想提示我,不要不同凡响,但这为时已晚。

  From the first, too, I had been warned that the novel was at the point of death, that like the walled city or the crossbow, it was a thing of the past. And no one likes to be at odds with history. Oswald Spengler, one of the most widely read authors of the early 30’s, taught that our tired old civilization was very nearly finished. His advice to the young was to avoid literature and the arts and to embrace mechanization and become engineers.

  一开端也有人告诫我,小说正频临死亡,如同城郭或弓弩,已属昨日之物。谁也不愿和历史作对。奥斯瓦尔德•斯宾格勒*――30年代初领有最广泛读者的作者之--曾教诲我们,陈旧、古老的文化已几近末路,倡议年轻人避开文学和艺术,拥抱机械化,去当工程师。

  In refusing to be obsolete, you challenged and defied the evolutionist historians. I had great respect for Spengler in my youth, but even then I couldn’t accept his conclusions, and (with respect and admiration) I mentally told him to get lost.

  你谢绝被淘汰,就是对进化论史学家的挑衅和鄙弃。年青时我十分尊敬斯宾格勒,但即便那个时候,也无奈接收他的论断,而(怀着仰慕之情)在心里对他说:你走远点吧。

  Sixty years later, in a recent issue of The Wall Street Journal, I come upon the old Spenglerian argument in a contemporary form. Terry Teachout, unlike Spengler, does not dump paralyzing mountains of historical theory upon us, but there are signs that he has weighed, sifted and pondered the evidence.

  时隔60年,在最近一期《华尔街日报》上,偶见斯宾格勒式老调新弹。跟斯宾格勒不同,特里•蒂奇奥特并没有将一座座令人窒息的史论大山压在我们身上,但迹象表明,他衡量、筛选、考虑过相干证据。

  He speaks of our “atomized culture,童装,” and his is a responsible, up-to-date and carefully considered opinion. He speaks of “art forms as technologies.” He tells us that movies will soon be “downloadable”―that is, transferable from one computer to the memory of another device―and predicts that films will soon be marketed like books. He predicts that the near-magical powers of technology are bringing us to the threshold of a new age and concludes, “Once this happens, my guess is that the independent movie will replace the novel as the principal vehicle for serious storytelling in the 21st century.”

  他谈到了我们的"原子化文化",观点新鲜可靠,并经由三思而行,谈到了 "作为技术的艺术形式",告知我们,电影很快就"可以下载",即从一台电脑转入另一存储装备。他还猜测,电影未几会如书籍般销售。他预言近乎魔法的技术之力将把我们引入一个新时代,并得出结论:"一旦这成为现实,我料想,独立电影会替换小说,成为21世纪严正故事叙述的重要载体。"

  In support of this argument, Mr. Teachout cites the ominous drop in the volume of book sales and the great increase in movie attendance: “For Americans under the age of 30, film has replaced the novel as the dominant mode of artistic expression.” To this Mr. Teachout adds that popular novelists like Tom Clancy and Stephen King “top out at around a million copies per book,” and notes, “The final episode of NBC’s ‘Cheers,’ by contrast, was seen by 42 million people.”

  为了支撑这一观点,蒂奇奥特先生指出,图书销量可怜降落,而电影观众却大幅回升。"对30岁以下的美国人来说,电影已经代替小说,成为艺术表白的重要模式。"蒂奇奥特先生弥补道,汤姆•克兰西和斯蒂芬•金@等畅销小说家"每本书最多也就卖到一百万册左右,"还说,"比拟之下,全国播送公司的《欢喜酒店》*的最后一集,观众达4200万之多。"

  On majoritarian grounds, the movies win. “The power of novels to shape the national conversation has declined,” says Mr. Teachout. But I am not at all certain that in their day “Moby-Dick” or “The Scarlet Letter” had any considerable influence on “the national conversation.” In the mid-19th century it was “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” that impressed the great public. “Moby-Dick” was a small-public novel.

  就数目多寡而言,电影赢了。"小说左右公民言谈的力气巳经减弱,"蒂奇奥特先生说。但我丝绝不敢确定,当初《白鲸》或《红字》对"国民言谈"有过什么重大影响。19世纪中期,感动民众的是《汤姆叔叔的小屋》。《白鲸》是一部小众小说。

  The literary masterpieces of the 20th century were for the most part the work of novelists who had no large public in mind. The novels of Proust and Joyce were written in a cultural twilight and were not intended to be read under the blaze and dazzle of popularity.

  20世纪的文学杰作大多出自没有大众意识的小说家之手。普鲁斯特和乔伊斯的小说,创作于黯淡的文化暮色之中,原来就无意让人在大众化的耀目光焰下阅读。

  Mr. Teachout’s article in The Journal follows the path generally taken by observers whose aim is to discover a trend. “According to one recent study 55 percent of Americans spend less than 30 minutes reading anything at all…. It may even be that movies have superseded novels not because Americans have grown dumber but because the novel is an obsolete artistic technology.”

  蒂奇�特先生在《华尔街日报》上的文章,沿用了察看家们旨在发现某种偏向的套路,指出"依据最近一项调�,55%的美国人阅读时光不超过30分钟……甚至可以说,电影取代了小说,不是因为美国人变傻了,而是因为小说这种技能已经过期。""

  “We are not accustomed to thinking of art forms as technologies,” he says, “but that is what they are, which means they have been rendered moribund by new technical developments.”

  咱们还不习惯把艺术情势看成技术,"他说,"但事实上艺术形式就是技术,也就是说,艺术形式已经由于新技巧的发展而濒临逝世亡。"

  Together with this emphasis on technics that attracts the scientific-minded young, there are other preferences discernible: It is better to do as a majority of your contemporaries are doing, better to be one of millions viewing a film than one of mere thousands reading a book. Moreover, the reader reads in solitude, whereas the viewer belongs to a great majority; he has powers of numerosity as well as the powers of mechanization. Add to this the importance of avoiding technological obsolescence and the attraction of feeling that technics will decide questions for us more dependably than the thinking of an individual, no matter how distinctive he may be.

  文章除了强调崇尚迷信的年轻人有吸引力的技术之外,还看得见其余一些取向。如大多数同时代人做什么,你最好就做什么,与其和区区数千人一样读一本书,不如和几百万人一样看一场电影。另外,读者只是单独阅读,而观众却是与很多人共赏,既借机械技术之力,又得人数众多之势。不妨还可以补充说,防止技术上掉队也很主要,而人们总觉得就解决问题而言,不论个人有如许出众,技术要比个人的思维更牢靠。这种感到也很有吸引力。

  John Cheever told me long ago that it was his readers who kept him going, people from every part of the country who had written to him. When he was at work, he was aware of these readers and correspondents in the woods beyond the lawn. “If I couldn’t picture them, I’d be sunk,” he said. And the novelist Wright Morris, urging me to get an electric typewriter, said that he seldom turned his machine off. “When I’m not writing, I listen to the electricity,” he said. “It keeps me company. We have conversations.”

  良久以前,约翰•契弗⑧对我说,让他坚定不移地写作的是读者,那些从全国各地给他写信的人。写作时,他感到那些读者和写信人就在草坪那边的小树林里。"头脑里要是没有他们,那我就完了,"他说。还有小说家赖特•莫里斯〜竭力劝我去买一台电动打字机,说他自己的打字机都很少关掉。"不写作的时候,就倾听电流的声音,"他说,"它陪同着我。我们能够交谈。"

  I wonder how Mr. Teachout might square such idiosyncrasies with his “art forms as technologies.” Perhaps he would argue that these two writers had somehow isolated themselves from “broad-based cultural influence.” Mr. Teachout has at least one laudable purpose: He thinks that he sees a way to bring together the Great Public of the movies with the Small Public of the highbrows. He is, however, interested in millions: millions of dollars, millions of readers, millions of viewers.

  不晓得蒂奇奥特先生如何使这些个人习惯与"作为技术的艺术形式"两者相容。兴许他会说,这两位作家因为某种起因脱离了 "普遍的文化影响"。蒂奇奥特先生至少有一个值得称道的目标:他以为自己发现了一个方式,能使"电影大众"与"精英小众"和谐起来。然而,他感兴致的却是多少百万这个数字:几百万美元,几百万读者,几百万观众。

  The one thing “everybody” does is go to the movies, Mr. Teachout says. How right he is.

  蒂奇奥特先生说,"人人"都做的一件事件,就是去看电影。他说得对极了。

  Back in the 20’s children between the ages of 8 and 12 lined up on Saturdays to buy their nickel tickets to see the crisis of last Saturday resolved. The heroine was untied in a matter of seconds just before the locomotive would have crushed her. Then came a new episode; and after that the newsreel and “Our Gang.” Finally there was a western with Tom Mix, or a Janet Gaynor picture about a young bride and her husband blissful in the attic, or Gloria Swanson and Theda Bara or Wallace Beery or Adolphe Menjou or Marie Dressler. And of course there was Charlie Chaplin in “The Gold Rush,” and from “The Gold Rush” it was only one step to the stories of Jack London.

  回忆20年代,每到周六,8到12岁的孩子们就会排队买张五美分的电影票,看看上个周六的危机是如何化解的。女主人公在火车就要辗过她之前几秒钟被松了绑。接着新的一集开始了,然后就是消息短片和《小顽童》"。最后是一部汤姆•米克斯的西部片;或者是一部珍妮《盖诺的电影,讲述年轻的新娘和她丈夫在阁楼上的幸福生活,或是葛洛莉娅•斯旺森和蒂达•巴拉,或是华莱士 •比里,阿道夫•门吉欧,玛丽•杜丝勒等影星主演的影片。当然,还有�理《卓别林的《淘金记》,而《淘金记》离杰克•伦敦的故事只不过一步之遥。

  There was no rivalry then between the viewer and the reader. Nobody supervised our reading. We were on our own. We civilized ourselves. We found or made a mental and imaginative life. Because we could read, we learned also to write. It did not confuse me to see “Treasure Island” in the movies and then read the book. There was no competition for our attention.

  那时候观众和读者并错误破。没人去管我们的阅读。我们本人做主,自我教化。我们发明或者说发明了充斥设想的精力生涯。我们因为可能浏览,所以也学会了写作。先看电影《金银岛》,而后再去读这本书,并不让我觉得迷惑。那时候,片子跟书籍并没有为吸引我们的留神力而争先恐后。

  One of the more attractive oddities of the United States is that our minorities are so numerous, so huge. A minority of millions is not at all unusual. But there are in fact millions of literate Americans in a state of separation from others of their kind. They are, if you like, the readers of Cheever, a crowd of them too large to be hidden in the woods. Departments of literature across the country have not succeeded in alienating them from books, works old and new. My friend Keith Botsford and I felt strongly that if the woods were filled with readers gone astray, among those readers there were probably writers as well.

  美国有一件更惹人注视的奇事,那就是我们的少数群体数量众多,范围宏大。几百万人形成一个少数群体,基本算不得变态。但实际上,还有几百万能识文断字的美国人,彼此之间处于隔离状况。可以说,阅读契弗作品的人,就是一个数量大得无法存身于小树林的群体。全国各地的文学系没能让他们疏远书籍,无论是旧作仍是新书。我和我的友人基思•博茨福德都深深感到,假如小树林中挤满了迷路的读者,那么其中很可能也有作家。

  To learn in detail of their existence you have only to publish a magazine like The Republic of Letters. Given encouragement, unknown writers, formerly without hope, materialize. One early reader wrote that our paper, “with its contents so fresh, person-to-person,” was “real, non-synthetic, undistracting.” Noting that there were no ads, she asked, “Is it possible, can it last?” and called it “an antidote to the shrinking of the human being in every one of us.” And toward the end of her letter our correspondent added, “It behooves the elder generation to come up with reminders of who we used to be and need to be.”

  要具体懂得他们的生存状态,你只要办一份像《文学界》这样的杂志。一旦得到激励,本来的无望之辈,就会显山露水。一位早期读者来信说,我们的刊物"内容无比新颖、异常亲热","实在、不做作,阅读时不会让人分心。"她注意到上面没登广告,便问,"这行吗?能办得下去吗?"还将其称作"一味解毒剂,医治我们每个人身上的人道萎缩症。"在书信末尾,我们这位笔友补充道,"老一代人有必要站出来提醒一下,我们从前是什么样的人,应当成为什么样的人。"

  This is what Keith Botsford and I had hoped that our “tabloid for literates” would be. And for two years it has been just that. We are a pair of utopian codgers who feel we have a duty to literature. I hope we are not like those humane do-gooders who, when the horse was vanishing, still donated troughs in City Hall Square for thirsty nags.

  这恰是当初我和基思•博茨福德冀望中的"读书人小报"。两年来,刊物信守着这个理念。我们俩是一对乌托邦式的老怪物,总认为对文学负有义务。我愿望我们别像那些不事实的行善者,马匹都快绝迹了,竟然还把料槽捐献到市政广场,以备口渴的马儿饮水。

  We have no way of guessing how many independent, self-initiated connoisseurs and lovers of literature have survived in remote corners of the country. The little evidence we have suggests that they are glad to find us, they are grateful. They want more than they are getting. Ingenious technology has failed to give them what they so badly need.

  我们无从猜想,毕竟有多少独立、自发的文学鉴赏者和喜好者在全国各个偏僻的角落里生存了下来。手头的点滴证据表明,他们为可以找到我们而愉快,也很感谢。他们盼望的比眼下得到的要多,精致的技术并没有满意他们的急切需要。

  英译汉参考译文:

  解释

  1) 本文作者索尔•贝娄(1915―2005)为美国作家、1976年诺贝尔文学奖得主.原文发表于1999年10月11曰《纽约时�》,后收入《纽约时�:作家谈写作选辑》。题目中"文学界"(the republic of letters) ―词来自拉丁语Respublica literaria, 18世纪风行于欧美,指的是一个由文人组成的、想象的"共和国",不受地区和国别限度,这一律念对启蒙时期的学者影响很大。

  2) 普鲁塔克(46? -120?),古希腊传记作家、散文家,著有《希腊罗马名人比拟列传》等。

  3) 斯维沃(1861―1928),意大利商人、作家,著有《泽诺的意识》等。

  4) 安德烈•别雷

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