日期:2011-06-10 11:01


Americans in Paris

They were there, Lafayette

Paris was their goal

Sargent’s love of Paris revealed in this painting of the Luxembourg Gardens

Jun 2nd 2011 | from the print edition

The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris.
By David McCullough. Simon & Schuster; 544 pages; $37.50. Buy from Amazon.com

“WHEN good Americans die, they go to Paris,” observed Thomas Gold Appleton, a Boston wit of the 19th century. Appleton is just one of the characters in David McCullough’s excellent reminder that Americans’ love of Paris began a good century before the arrival in the “City of Light” of men such as Ernest Hemingway or James Baldwin. From James Fenimore Cooper, author of “The Last of the Mohicans”, to Samuel Morse, a painter better known now as the inventor of the telegraph, American visitors were seduced by Paris: “Never in their lives had the Americans seen such parks and palaces, or such beautiful bridges or so many bridges.”

“善良的美国人去世后,他们的灵魂就升入巴黎。” 19世纪的波士顿智者托马斯•金•阿普尔顿曾这样说。在大卫•麦卡洛的新作中,美国人对巴黎的热爱一览无余。这种热爱甚至在欧内斯特•海明威和詹姆斯•鲍德温来到这座“灯光之城”之前就已经开始了,而阿普尔顿只是这众多热爱法国的美国人中的一个。无论是《最后一个莫西干人》的作者詹姆斯•费尼莫尔•库珀,还是萨缪尔•莫尔斯,这位以发明电码而闻名于世的画家,美国的游学者都被巴黎深深吸引着:“穷极一生,美国人也不曾见过如此美轮美奂的公园殿宇,如此隽永众多的桥梁。”

Paris was so much more advanced—in the arts, the sciences and medicine—than Boston, New York or Washington, DC. Morse, already a successful artist in America when he was commissioned at 28 to produce a portrait of President Monroe, declared that he had to go to Paris: “My education as a painter is incomplete without it.” This desire for improvement was “the greater journey” of Mr. McCullough’s title, following the often dangerous journey across the Atlantic, first by sailing ship and only later under steam.


Mr. McCullough, twice a winner of the Pulitzer prize, tells his story well. One chapter describes the medical schools and hospitals of Paris, well ahead of their counterparts in America. A particular boon for the visiting American students was the “ample opportunity to examine female patients as well as men. This was not the case in America, where most women would have preferred to die than have a physician—a man—examine their bodies.”


Another chapter describes the infinite care with which Augustus Saint-Gaudens (an American despite his name) created in his Paris studio the giant statue to Admiral David Farragut that now stands in New York. Mr. McCullough brings a similar, impressive understanding to the paintings of John Singer Sargent and other artists who came to Paris to perfect their craft.


But Mr. McCullough is more historian than art critic—which is just as well given that his book goes from 1820 to the end of the century, a period in France’s turbulent history that embraced both monarchy and revolution. His description of the 1870-71 siege of Paris and the subsequent nightmare of the Paris Commune is masterly.


Perhaps this is why the real hero of this account is neither artist nor writer but Elihu Washburne, a former Republican member of Congress who served as America’s minister (ambassador) to France from 1869 to 1877. Unencumbered by any training as a diplomat, Washburne proved to be an indefatigable protector of America’s interests, arranging passports for Americans to escape the siege and acting with bravery during the two months of the Paris Commune. Mr. McCullough was fortunate enough to discover Washburne’s own diary of the period, basing two of his best chapters on its vivid entries.

也许,这就可以解释为什么这里描写的英雄既不是艺术家,也不是作家,而是Elihu Washburne——一位于1869-1877年间出任美国驻法部长(外交官)的前国会共和党成员。虽然未接受过任何外交官培训,但事实证明Washburne是美国利益的忠实维护者。在此期间,是他美国民众逃出被围攻的巴黎,也是他在巴黎公社运动的两个月中表现出极大的坚毅勇敢。麦卡洛先生很幸运地发现了Washburne于此时记下的日记。本书中最为精彩的两个章节均是来自日子中栩栩如生的描述。

Mr. McCullough stops his story at the start of the 20th century, even though the American fascination for Paris continues. But do Americans living in Paris thereby become real Parisiens? It seems unlikely. As Saint-Gaudens wrote: “coming here has been a wonderful experience, surprising in many respects, one of them being to find how much of an American I am.”


  • infiniteadj. 无限的,无穷的 n. 无限
  • unlikelyadj. 不太可能的
  • incompleteadj. 不完全的,不完整的
  • escapev. 逃跑,逃脱,避开 n. 逃跑,逃脱,(逃避)方法、
  • advancedadj. 高级的,先进的
  • turbulentadj. 狂暴的,骚动的,动荡的,汹涌的
  • descriptionn. 描写,描述,说明书,作图,类型
  • criticn. 批评家,评论家
  • statuen. 塑像,雕像
  • improvementn. 改进,改善