《经济学人》:文坛巨匠查尔斯·狄更斯的一生
日期:2011-10-12 09:22

(单词翻译:单击)

Two welcome new biographies of Charles Dickens whose birth 200 years ago will be celebrated next February
两本查尔斯·狄更斯新传记,喜迎明年二月狄更斯诞辰200周年。

Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist. By Robert Douglas-Fairhurst.
《成为狄更斯:一个小说家的创造力》作者 罗伯特·道格拉斯·菲赫斯特

Charles Dickens: A Life. By Claire Tomalin
《查尔斯·狄更斯:一生》克莱尔·托玛琳

THERE is an immediacy about Charles Dickens’s life, just as there is about his novels, a kind of bursting physicality. “If I couldn’t walk fast and far”, he once said, “I think I should explode and perish.” He exhilarated and exhausted himself. Both these biographies, timed for the bicentenary of Dickens’s birth next February, bring out the mad energy of the man.

回顾查尔斯·狄更斯的一生跟阅读他小说一样,有一种实实在在的冲劲扑面而来。他曾经说,“如果步伐不再轻盈脚力不再充沛,我想我宁愿自爆死去。”他忘情宣泄,直到耗尽自我。在狄更斯200周年祭这个节点,这两本传记展示了这作家疯狂的精力。

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst sets out to counter what he sees as the literary man-of-destiny version of Dickens, to recover the uncertainty, muddle and loose ends. He concentrates therefore on the early unsettled years, up to 1838 when, at 26, Dickens decided to sign himself “Charles Dickens”. Until then he had just been “Boz”, a sketch writer and the hugely popular author of “The Pickwick Papers”.

有人认为狄更斯命中注定成为作家,罗伯特·道格拉斯·菲赫斯特提出了异议,并还原了狄更斯摇摆不定、浑浑噩噩和信马由缰的一面。为此,他把目光放在狄更斯早年不安稳的日子上,1838年之前。那一年狄更斯26岁,最终选定以“查尔斯·狄更斯”作为笔名。此前,他还只是一个叫“博兹”的札记作家和写过一部热销小说《匹克威克外传》。

But writing was hardly a proper job. Since the age of 15, he had been racing through more plausible alternatives: from legal clerk, to courtroom and parliamentary shorthand reporter, then on to journalism and ambitions in the theatre. Mr Douglas-Fairhurst’s early cut-off date enables him to slow these years down, to listen for the echoes between the life and the writings and to draw on a broad range of contemporary references.

但是对狄更斯来说,作家几乎不算是正式工作。15岁起,他在其他更靠谱的职业中频频跳槽:从法务学徒到法院及议院速写记录员,后来又当过记者还跃跃欲试戏剧表演。道格拉斯·菲赫斯特截取狄更斯的早年时期,使得他能够从容分析,细听当时社会和狄更斯作品之间的回响,广泛参阅了当时的文献。

As he shows, the question of alternatives, of the road taken or not taken, fascinated Dickens. “See how near I may have been to another sort of life,” he wrote of himself at 20 when he had been on the point of auditioning as an actor. Or, more fearfully, he wrote of his 12-year-old self: “I might easily have been…a little robber or a little vagabond.” He came that close, he believed, when his father (the model for Mr Micawber in “David Copperfield”) was imprisoned for debt and, as was customary, the family joined him—except for young Charles who took lodgings and was set to work in a blacking factory.

他指出,狄更斯曾乐此不疲地从事待选行业,追问自己该走哪条路不该走哪条路。他在20岁作为演员在试镜前曾写道:“看,我极有可能就要过上另一种生活了”。又比如,他心有余悸地回忆12岁时,“我极有可能成为小流氓或者小游民。”他确信无疑,尤其在他父亲(《大卫科帕菲尔》中米考伯的原型)负债入狱,举家依惯例连坐时,这种可能性极即将成为现实。幸好当时政府把少年狄更斯遣送到鞋油厂寄宿,责为学徒。

It was the defining trauma of his life. It opened the crack in his imagination through which he saw, a hair’s breadth away, a whole world of other sorts of life: from the man next to him in the library, in his Boz sketch “Shabby-genteel People”, who blacked his clothes to hide the frays, to the terrified criminal in the condemned cell in “A Visit to Newgate”, just feet away from a whistling passer-by.

这一创伤对他的人生起了决定性影响,狄更斯创作思路被它敲开了裂缝,从中看到了一线之外全然不同的人生百态:那其中有图书馆中坐他旁边的斯文人,把身上的衣服染成黑色,由此遮掩上面的屡屡破绽(《博兹札记》中《穷摆架子的高雅人》);也有关在死牢中惶恐的死囚,与一名吹着口哨的路人仅咫尺之隔。(《参观纽盖特监狱》)。

Mr Douglas-Fairhurst covers much ground, but one of his central ideas is Dickens’s pervasive sense of what might have been. He sees it in the false trails and shadow plots (take “Great Expectations”, where Pip imagines himself in one story though is really in another), in his doublings among characters and in his jostling possibilities and competing outcomes (for instance in “A Christmas Carol”).

道格拉斯·菲赫斯特用了不少篇幅讨论这一点,但是书中另一个主要观点是狄更斯时时刻刻感觉到事物本应如此却奈何那样。这一点可以在以下方面体现:一些错误的线索以及缥缈的剧情(以《远大前程》为例,皮普觉得自己知晓一段往事,岂料往事中还有故事,真相出人意表);人物双面性格以及冲突的可能性和矛盾的大结局(例如《圣诞颂歌》)。

“Becoming Dickens” is an ingenious, playful and often brilliant analysis as much as it is a narrative. In a sense, Claire Tomalin’s enormous task is more straightforward. She tells a story. Clear-eyed, sympathetic and scholarly, she spreads the whole canvas, alive with incident and detail, with places and people. She writes of publishers, illustrators, collaborators and all Dickens’s intersecting circles of friends and family. It is wonderfully done.

《成为狄更斯》是原创性作品,作为一本传记依然不乏幽默与深刻的议论。在这个意义上,克莱尔·托玛琳的大作可谓更直接。她讲述狄更斯一生的故事。作为一个传记作家,她思维敏锐,富有同情心而且治学严谨。她利用鲜活的事件和细节,地方和人物,展示狄更斯的生活全景。她谈及了狄更斯的出版商、插图者,合作者以及所有与狄更斯有关的朋友和家族。故事讲得十分出色。

Mr Douglas-Fairhurst observes that almost nothing can be said of Dickens of which the opposite is not also true. Ms Tomalin richly bears that out. Here is the loyal friend and philanthropist, the champion of the poor—and also the bully. Here too is the man who could light up a room, the clown, the mimic and dancer of hornpipes—but also the obsessive who prowled the streets unable to “get rid of my spectres unless I can lose them in crowds”.

道格拉斯•菲赫斯特发现,几乎所有对狄更斯的评论,反过来说也同样成立。托玛琳的书充分地证实了这一点。狄更斯是忠实的朋友、慈善家、穷人的救星,但同样是名霸道者。他能扮小丑、口技者和角笛舞者,让观众开怀大乐,却也是偏执狂,逡巡于街道之间,“只有在人群中,我才能摆脱心中的恶灵”。

After his death, Dickens’s daughter Katey (shown above, with her sister Mamie, being read to by their father) said that she had loved him immeasurably, but that he was “a wicked man”. She was thinking of her mother Catherine, so passive, so overlooked and so constantly pregnant (they had ten children). Having decided she was the wrong wife for him, Dickens literally partitioned off her bed, then forced her into a separation while mocking her to their friends. Ms Tomalin takes care to notice Catherine and the other women in Dickens’s life. Power was vital to him, the power to make his public laugh and cry and love him for it—better still, to see them do it at his famous public readings. But a brutal streak went with it.

狄更斯死后,他的女儿凯特(上图,狄更斯给她和她姐妹梅蜜念书)说她虽然无比热爱父亲,但他却是“一个坏蛋”。她念及母亲卡洛琳,如此消极被动,如此备受冷落还饱遭生育之苦(她为狄更斯生了十个孩子)。狄更斯认为卡洛琳不适合做他妻子,居然马上在床上用隔板隔开她,逼她分居还不忘在共同朋友面前揶揄她。托玛琳特别为卡洛琳和另一个女人着墨。狄更斯醉心影响力,那种使大众发笑和哭泣并迷恋他的影响力,他更希望这种情况出现在他著名的公开朗诵中现场。但是这种影响力也让他多少有点冷酷无情。

Ms Tomalin ends with an exhausted Dickens splashing his head in a bucket of water, and writing on. After all, it is the writer she is interested in, his range, invention and universality. Everyone read him in his lifetime, high and low. Speaking of Pickwick, she remarks that Dickens seemed to feed his story “directly into the bloodstream of the nation…making his readers feel he was a personal friend to each of them.” When he died, among the flowers at his graveside in Westminster Abbey were small bunches tied with rags.

在托玛琳一书结尾,劳累的狄更斯将一桶水浇在自己身上,继续写作。毕竟她关心的是作为作家的狄更斯,他作品的范围、他创造人物的能力而且其雅俗共赏。在狄更斯的时代,有井水的地方就有他的作品。谈到匹克威克,托玛琳指出,狄更斯似乎将这个故事“融入大众血肉……让读者感到狄更斯是他们每个人的朋友”。当其逝世,一束束用旧布扎起的鲜花献在他西斯特敏斯特教堂墓地前。

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重点单词
  • pervasiveadj. 普遍的,蔓延的,渗透的
  • sympatheticadj. 同情的,共鸣的 n. 交感神经
  • shadown. 阴影,影子,荫,阴暗,暗处 vt. 投阴影于,跟踪
  • inventionn. 发明,发明物,虚构,虚构物
  • brutaladj. 野蛮的,残暴的
  • celebratedadj. 著名的,声誉卓著的 动词celebrate的过
  • constantlyadv. 不断地,经常地
  • ingeniousadj. 机灵的,精制的,有独创性的
  • brilliantadj. 卓越的,光辉的,灿烂的 n. 宝石
  • courtroomn. 法庭,审判室