• 女性短篇小说《AWagnerMatinee》翻译赏析

  • 发布时间:2017-12-16 20:36 浏览:加载中

  •   I received one morning a letter, written in pale ink on glassy, blue-lined notepaper, and bearing the postmark of a little Nebraska1village. This communication, worn and rubbed, looking as though it had been carried for some days in a coat pocket that was none too clean, was from my Uncle Howard and informed me that his wife had been left a small legacy by a bachelor2 relative who had recently died, and that it would be necessary for her to go to Boston3 to attend to the settling of the estate. He requested me to meet her at the station and render her whatever services might be necessary. On examining the date indicated as that of her arrival I found it no later than tomorrow. He had characteristically delayed writing until, had I been away from home for a day, I must have missed the good woman altogether.

      The name of my Aunt Georgiana called up not alone her own figure, at once pathetic and grotesque, but opened before my feet a gulf of recollection so wide and deep that, as the letter dropped from my hand, I felt suddenly a stranger to all the present conditions of my existence, wholly ill at ease and out of place amid the familiar surroundings of my study. I became, in short, the gangling farm boy my aunt had known, scourged with chilblains and bashfulness, my hands cracked and sore from the corn husking. I felt the knuckles of my thumb tentatively, as though they were raw again. I sat again before her parlor organ, fumbling the scales with my stiff, red hands, while she, beside me, made canvas mittens for the huskers.

      The next morning, after preparing my landlady somewhat, I set out for the station. When the train arrived I had some difficulty in finding my aunt. She was the last of the passengers to alight, and it was not until I got her into the carriage that she seemed really to recognize me. She had come all the way in a day coach; her linen duster had become black with soot, and her black bonnet gray with dust, during the journey. When we arrived at my boardinghouse the landlady put her to bed at once and I did not see her again until the next morning.

      Whatever shock Mrs. Springer experienced at my aunt's appearance she considerately concealed. As for myself, I saw my aunt's misshapen figure with that feeling of awe and respect with which we behold explorers who have left their ears and fingers north of Franz Josef Land4, or their health somewhere along the Upper Congo5. My Aunt Georgiana had been a music teacher at the Boston Conservatory, somewhere back in the latter sixties. One summer, while visiting in the little village among the Green Mountains where her ancestors had dwelt for generations, she had kindled the callow fancy of the most idle and shiftless of all the village lads, and had conceived for this Howard Carpenter one of those extravagant passions which a handsome country boy of twenty-one sometimes inspires in an angular, spectacled woman of thirty. When she returned to her duties in Boston, Howard followed her, and the upshot of this inexplicable infatuation was that she eloped with him, eluding the reproaches of her family and the criticisms of her friends by going with him to the Nebraska frontier. Carpenter, who, of course, had no money, had taken a homestead in Red Willow County6, fifty miles from the railroad. There they had measured off their quarter section themselves by driving across the prairie in a wagon, to the wheel of which they had tied a red cotton handkerchief, and counting off its revolutions. They built a dugout in the red hillside, one of those cave dwellings whose inmates so often reverted to primitive conditions. Their water they got from the lagoons where the buffalo drank, and their slender stock of provisions was always at the mercy of bands of roving Indians. For thirty years my aunt had not been further than fifty miles from the homestead.

      But Mrs. Springer knew nothing of all this, and must have been considerably shocked at what was left of my kinswoman. Beneath the soiled linen duster which, on her arrival, was the most conspicuous feature of her costume, she wore a black stuff dress, whose ornamentation showed that she had surrendered herself unquestioningly into the hands of a country dressmaker. My poor aunt's figure, however, would have presented astonishing difficulties to any dressmaker. Originally stooped, her shoulders were now almost bent together over her sunken chest. She wore no stays, and her gown, which trailed unevenly behind, rose in a sort of peak over her abdomen. She wore ill-fitting false teeth, and her skin was as yellow as a Mongolian's from constant exposure to a pitiless wind and to the alkaline water which hardens the most transparent cuticle into a sort of flexible leather.

      I owed to this woman most of the good that ever came my way in my boyhood, and had a reverential affection for her. During the years when I was riding herd for my uncle, my aunt, after cooking the three meals--the first of which was ready at six o'clock in the morning-and putting the six children to bed, would often stand until midnight at her ironing board, with me at the kitchen table beside her, hearing me recite Latin declensions and conjugations, gently shaking me when my drowsy head sank down over a page of irregular verbs. It was to her, at her ironing or mending, that I read my first Shakespeare', and her old textbook on mythology was the first that ever came into my empty hands. She taught me my scales and exercises, too--on the little parlor organ, which her husband had bought her after fifteen years, during which she had not so much as seen any instrument, but an accordion that belonged to one of the Norwegian farmhands. She would sit beside me by the hour, darning and counting while I struggled with the "Joyous Farmer," but she seldom talked to me about music, and I understood why. She was a pious woman; she had the consolations of religion and, to her at least, her martyrdom was not wholly sordid. Once when I had been doggedly beating out some easy passages from an old score of Euryanthe I had found among her music books, she came up to me and, putting her hands over my eyes, gently drew my head back upon her shoulder, saying tremulously, "Don't love it so well, Clark, or it may be taken from you. Oh, dear boy, pray that whatever your sacrifice may be, it be not that."

      When my aunt appeared on the morning after her arrival she was still in a semi-somnambulant state. She seemed not to realize that she was in the city where she had spent her youth, the place longed for hungrily half a lifetime. She had been so wretchedly train-sick throughout the journey that she bad no recollection of anything but her discomfort, and, to all intents and purposes, there were but a few hours of nightmare between the farm in Red Willow County and my study on Newbury Street. I had planned a little pleasure for her that afternoon, to repay her for some of the glorious moments she had given me when we used to milk together in the straw-thatched cowshed and she, because I was more than usually tired, or because her husband had spoken sharply to me, would tell me of the splendid performance of the Huguenots she had seen in Paris, in her youth. At two o'clock the Symphony Orchestra was to give a Wagner7 program, and I intended to take my aunt; though, as I conversed with her I grew doubtful about her enjoyment of it. Indeed, for her own sake, I could only wish her taste for such things quite dead, and the long struggle mercifully ended at last. I suggested our visiting the Conservatory and the Common before lunch, but she seemed altogether too timid to wish to venture out. She questioned me absently about various changes in the city, but she was chiefly concerned that she had forgotten to leave instructions about feeding half-skimmed milk to a certain weakling calf, "old Maggie's calf, you know, Clark," she explained, evidently having forgotten how long I had been away. She was further troubled because she had neglected to tell her daughter about the freshly opened kit of mackerel in the cellar, which would spoil if it were not used directly.

      I asked her whether she had ever heard any of the Wagnerian operas and found that she had not, though she was perfectly familiar with their respective situations, and had once possessed the piano score of The Flying Dutchman. I began to think it would have been best to get her back to Red Willow County without waking her, and regretted having suggested the concert.

      From the time we entered the concert hall, however, she was a trifle less passive and inert, and for the first time seemed to perceive her surroundings. I had felt some trepidation lest she might become aware of the absurdities of her attire, or might experience some painful embarrassment at stepping suddenly into the world to which she had been dead for a quarter of a century. But, again, I found how superficially I had judged her. She sat looking about her with eyes as impersonal, almost as stony, as those with which the granite Rameses in a museum watches the froth and fret that ebbs and flows about his pedestal-separated from it by the lonely stretch of centuries. I have seen this same aloofness in old miners who drift into the Brown Hotel at Denver, their pockets full of bullion, their linen soiled, their haggard faces unshaven; standing in the thronged corridors as solitary as though they were still in a frozen camp on the Yukon, conscious that certain experiences have isolated them from their fellows by a gulf no haberdasher could bridge.

      We sat at the extreme left of the first balcony, facing the arc of our own and the balcony above us, veritable hanging gardens, brilliant as tulip beds. The matinee audience was made up chiefly of women. One lost the contour of faces and figures-- indeed, any effect of line whatever-and there was only the color of bodices past counting, the shimmer of fabrics soft and firm, silky and sheer: red, mauve, pink, blue, lilac, purple, ecru, rose, yellow, cream, and white, all the colors that an impressionist finds in a sunlit landscape, with here and there the dead shadow of a frock coat. My Aunt Georgiana regarded them as though they had been so many daubs of tube-paint on a palette.

      When the musicians came out and took their places, she gave a little stir of anticipation and looked with quickening interest down over the rail at that invariable grouping, perhaps the first wholly familiar thing that had greeted her eye since she had left old Maggie and her weakling calf. I could feel how all those details sank into her soul, for I had not forgotten how they had sunk into mine when. I came fresh from plowing forever and forever between green aisles of corn, where, as in a treadmill, one might walk from daybreak to dusk without perceiving a shadow of change. The clean profiles of the musicians, the gloss of their linen, the dull black of their coats, the beloved shapes of the instruments, the patches of yellow light thrown by the green- shaded lamps on the smooth, varnished bellies of the cellos and the bass viols in the rear, the restless, wind-tossed forest of fiddle necks and bows-I recalled how, in the first orchestra I had ever heard, those long bow strokes seemed to draw the heart out of me, as a conjurer's stick reels out yards of paper ribbon from a hat.

      The first number was the Tannhauser overture. When the horns drew out the first strain of the Pilgrim's chorus my Aunt Georgiana clutched my coat sleeve. Then it was I first realized that for her this broke a silence of thirty years; the inconceivable silence of the plains. With the battle between the two motives, with the frenzy of the Venusberg theme and its ripping of strings, there came to me an overwhelming sense of the waste and wear we are so powerless to combat; and I saw again the tall, naked house on the prairie, black and grim as a wooden fortress; the black pond where I had learned to swim, its margin pitted with sun-dried cattle tracks; the rain-gullied clay banks about the naked house, the four dwarf ash seedlings where the dishcloths were always hung to dry before the kitchen door. The world there was the flat world of the ancients; to the east, a cornfield that stretched to daybreak; to the west, a corral that reached to sunset; between, the conquests of peace, dearer bought than those of war.

      The overture closed; my aunt released my coat sleeve, but she said nothing. She sat staring at the orchestra through a dullness of thirty years, through the films made little by little by each of the three hundred and sixty-five days in every one of them. What, I wondered, did she get from it? She had been a good pianist in her day I knew, and her musical education had been broader than that of most music teachers of a quarter of a century ago. She had often told me of Mozart8's operas and Meyerbeer9's, and I could remember hearing her sing, years ago, and certain melodies of Verdi's. When I had fallen ill with a fever in her house she used to sit by my cot in the evening--when the cool, night wind blew in through the faded mosquito netting tacked over the window, and I lay watching a certain bright star that burned red above the cornfield--and sing "Home to our mountains, O, let us return!" in a way fit to break the heart of a Vermont boy near dead of homesickness already.

      I watched her closely through the prelude to Tristan and Isolde, trying vainly to conjecture what that seething turmoil of strings and winds might mean to her, but she sat mutely staring at the violin bows that drove obliquely downward, like the pelting streaks of rain in a summer shower. Had this music any message for her? Had she enough left to at all comprehend this power which had kindled the world since she had left it? I was in a fever of curiosity, but Aunt Georgiana sat silent upon her peak in Darien. She preserved this utter immobility throughout the number from The Flying Dutchman, though her fingers worked mechanically upon her black dress, as though, of themselves, they were recalling the piano score they had once played. Poor old hands! They had been stretched and twisted into mere tentacles to hold and lift and knead with; the palms unduly swollen, the fingers bent and knotted--on one of them a thin, worn band that had once been a wedding ring. As I pressed and gently quieted one of those groping hands I remembered with quivering eyelids their services for me in other days.

      Soon after the tenor began the "Prize Song," I heard a quick drawn breath and turned to my aunt. Her eyes were closed, but the tears were glistening on her cheeks, and I think, in a moment more, they were in my eyes as well. It never really died, then-- the soul that can suffer so excruciatingly and so interminably; it withers to the outward eye only; like that strange moss which can lie on a dusty shelf half a century and yet, if placed in water, grows green again. She wept so throughout the development and elaboration of the melody.

      During the intermission before the second half of the concert, I questioned my aunt and found that the "Prize Song" was not new to her. Some years before there had drifted to the farm in Red Willow County a young German, a tramp cowpuncher, who had sung the chorus at Bayreuth, when he was a boy, along with the other peasant boys and girls. Of a Sunday morning he used to sit on his gingham-sheeted bed in the hands' bedroom which opened off the kitchen, cleaning the leather of his boots and saddle, singing the "Prize Song," while my aunt went about her work in the kitchen. She had hovered about him until she had prevailed upon him to join the country church, though his sole fitness for this step, insofar as I could gather, lay in his boyish face and his possession of this divine melody. Shortly afterward he had gone to town on the Fourth of July, been drunk for several days, lost his money at a faro table, ridden a saddled Texan steer on a bet, and disappeared with a fractured collarbone. All this my aunt told me huskily, wonderingly, as though she were talking in the weak lapses of illness.

      "Well, we have come to better things than the old Trovatore at any rate, Aunt Georgie?" I queried, with a well-meant effort at jocularity.

      Her lip quivered and she hastily put her handkerchief up to her mouth. From behind it she murmured, "And you have been hearing this ever since you left me, Clark?" Her question was the gentlest and saddest of reproaches.

      The second half of the program consisted of four numbers from the Ring, and closed with Siegfried10's funeral march. My aunt wept quietly, but almost continuously, as a shallow vessel overflows in a rainstorm. From time to time her dim eyes looked up at the lights which studded the ceiling, burning softly under their dull glass globes; doubtless they were stars in truth to her. I was still perplexed as to what measure of musical comprehension was left to her, she who had heard nothing but the singing of gospel hymns at Methodist services in the square frame schoolhouse on Section Thirteen for so many years. I was wholly unable to gauge how much of it had been dissolved in soapsuds, or worked into bread, or milked into the bottom of a pail.

      The deluge of sound poured on and on; I never knew what she found in the shining current of it; I never knew how far it bore her, or past what happy islands. From the trembling of her face I could well believe that before the last numbers she had been carried out where the myriad graves are, into the gray, nameless burying grounds of the sea; or into some world of death vaster yet, where, from the beginning of the world, hope has lain down with hope and dream with dream and, renouncing, slept.

      The concert was over; the people filed out of the hall chattering and laughing, glad to relax and find the living level again, but my kinswoman made no effort to rise. The harpist slipped its green felt cover over his instrument; the flute players shook the water from their mouthpieces; the men of the orchestra went out one by one, leaving the stage to the chairs and music stands, empty as a winter cornfield.

      I spoke to my aunt. She burst into tears and sobbed pleadingly. "I don't want to go, Clark, I don't want to go!"

      I understood. For her, just outside the door of the concert hall, lay the black pond with the cattle-tracked bluffs; the tall, unpainted house, with weather-curled boards; naked as a tower, the crook-backed ash seedlings where the dishcloths hung to dry; the gaunt, molting turkeys picking up refuse about the kitchen door.




      转天,我在告诉房东太太准备招待客人后,就赶往火车站接婶婶。火车停车后,我在人群中费力的找到了婶婶,因为她最后下车,在我把她领进马车之前,她竟然都没有认出我来。 她一路上坐的是硬座,亚麻质地的外套已经被煤烟熏得黑乎乎的,黑色的帽子也上满是灰尘。

      我们一起回到了我寄宿的公寓,房东太太当即安排她睡下了。直到第二天早上我才重新见到她。尽管女房东普林格太太初见乔治亚娜婶婶的模样有多么吃惊,她却很厚道的不露声色。而我自己则看着婶婶那饱经风霜的身影满怀敬畏。如同仰望那些在法兰西约瑟夫群岛以北地区冻掉了耳朵和手指、或者在刚果和上游染疾受伤的探险家一样。六十年后期,具体的年代我忘掉了,乔治亚娜婶婶曾在波士顿音乐学院教书,一年夏天,她到青山地区参观祖先居住过的一个小村庄的时候,我的叔叔霍华德?卡潘特深深的迷上了她。他当时才二十一岁,是一个没有技能且游手好闲的年轻人。当乔治亚娜婶婶回到波士顿后,叔叔也悄悄尾随她也到了波士顿。这个年轻人这种狂热的举动打动了婶婶,义无反顾的跟他私奔了。为了逃避家人和朋友的指责,他们二人来到内布拉斯加州的边远地区定居。叔叔身无分文,因此他们在红柳县认领了一份离铁路五十英里的荒地,我童年中所有美好的记忆都与乔治亚娜婶婶有关,我既敬又爱。那些与叔叔一家同住的日子,我主要是放养牲口,婶婶负责一天三顿饭―第一顿早上六点钟―除此之外,晚上在把六个孩子安排睡下之后,还要熨衣服到深夜,每逢此时,我就在她身边的厨桌前背诵拉丁文词尾变化,我迷迷糊糊睡着,连头都垂到书页上时,她总是把我轻轻的摇醒,就在那些缝缝补补、熨熨烫烫的日子里,我还向她朗读过我接触到的第一个莎士比亚的剧本,而且,我第一次启蒙接触到的第一本书就是婶婶的旧神话课本。她还用那架小小的家用风琴教我认识琴键,练习弹曲。婚后整整有十五年她没有摸过任何乐器,后来她的丈夫为她买了这家小风琴。 当我弹起《快乐的农夫》时,她就坐在我旁边缝补,或者算账,但却很少和我谈起音乐,我也明晓其中的缘由。有一回,我在她给我的音乐书中发现一份《优蓝蒂》的陈旧乐谱,于是固执的弹着,弹奏其中一些简单的章节,这时她走过来,用手捂住我的眼睛,温柔的把我的头拉在她的肩上,用很颤抖的声音说道:“克拉克,不要太执着,也许,你越执着的追求一件事情,就越会失去她的。”









      当乐队演奏《特勒斯坦和伊索尔德》的序曲时,我留心观察着乔治亚娜婶婶,想看看周围的琴弦声和沸腾般的空气会对她带来如何的影响,结果什么也没有发现。她坐在那里,无声无息,目光凝视着乐团,随着一根根的琴弓斜着拉下去,音乐声如同夏日里阵雨大作时急流而下的雨丝。这样的乐声想起时她在想什么呢? 自从她离开波士顿后,音乐的魅力激荡着世界,但她是否还有足够的能力理解它呢? 我很迫切的想知道答案。可是婶婶依然沉默的坐着,坐在达里安的高潮里。演奏《飞行的荷兰人》时,婶婶依然一动不动,当她的手却在身上穿的黑衣服上机械的蹭来蹭去,仿佛在弹奏钢琴的琴键一样。这双可怜的手啊!整日里举拿揉捏,不当的打开,合上,变得几乎跟动物的爪子一样;其中一个手指上还套着个薄且已经损坏的小环,曾经是一只结婚戒指吧。我轻轻的拿住婶婶不停蹭来蹭去的手,他慢慢的不动了。这时我想起了往昔岁月中这双手为我所做的事情,我的眼睛湿润了。男高音开始长名曲不久,我听到了一阵急促的抽泣声,我把头转向乔治亚娜婶婶。她双眼紧闭,面颊上的泪水闪闪发光。我不禁觉得,我也要哭泣起来。这样说来,那个灵魂虽然饱经沧桑,忍受了无尽的苦难,但是她并没有真正的死去。只不过是在表面上消失了,就如同某中神奇的苔藓,它可以在满是尘埃的岩石上静默半个世纪,但是一旦把它放回水中,它就立刻恢复到以前绿茵茵的样子。在这首歌演唱的过程中,婶婶就这样一直抽泣着。

      音乐会在第二部分开始前有一段休息,我问了问婶婶她是否第一次听名曲,她否定了。若干千年有一位流浪的牧牛人来到他们居住的红柳县的那个农场,那是个年轻的德国人,小时候和其他农家孩子们一起在拜罗特伊合唱团待过。每逢周日早晨,当婶婶在厨房干活儿的时候,他总是在正对这厨房的雇工房里,坐在扶着花格单子的床上,一边擦皮靴和马鞍,一边哼唱和这首曲子。后来婶婶央求了他很久,他加入了当地的教会。他加入教会的唯一的原因,据我所知,就是长着衣服孩子气的脸,而且会唱这首圣歌。 后来,有一次,他在七月四日进城,连喝了好几天酒,喝的酩酊大醉,输光了所有的钱,有打赌去骑一头配上鞍的德克萨斯小公牛,却被摔断了锁骨,再后来,他就再没有出现过。婶婶用沙哑的声音,精神恍惚的跟我讲了他的故事,如同一个病榻上的重病患者的状态。







      作品点评《瓦格纳作品音乐会》是威拉?凯瑟短篇小说代表作品。最初发表在美国1904年2月份的《大众杂志》(Everybody’s Magazine) 上, 后来被收入作者1905 年出版的短篇小说集《精灵花园》(The T roll Garden)。作品叙述了一个西部拓荒者凄苦悲凉、命途多舛的遭遇。主人公乔治亚娜婶婶原是波士顿音乐学校的一名教员, 为了狂热的爱情, 她和情人一块儿私奔到内布拉斯加边疆地区, 并在那片荒野上开辟家园,建立农场。三十年漫长而孤寂的拓荒生涯使她备尝人生的艰辛, 备遭生活的蹂躏。她不得不同桀骜不驯的荒原搏斗, 和冷漠无情的大自然抗争。但对乔治亚娜婶婶来说, 生活中最大的磨难不是自然环境的恶劣和物质供应的短缺, 而是精神食粮的匮乏和她那没法得到满足的对艺术的渴求。她年轻时曾是一名优秀的钢琴师, 但三十年来她所拥有的唯一乐器是定居十五年后丈夫为她买的一架小风琴;她所听到的唯一音乐是礼拜仪式上唱的福音圣歌; 她所见过的唯一歌手是流落到她农场上的一个漂泊不定的骑马牛仔。三十年里她没有走出过她那座农场方圆五十英里的范围; 三十年里她一直生活在那个自古以来就沉闷单调的地方。后由于偶然的原因,她回了一趟阔别三十年的波士顿,重新去听了一场音乐会,美妙的音乐唤起了她陈年的记忆,这三十年的生活就这样艰难和枯燥的过去了,一个女人的一生最好的时光也就这样过去了,乔治娜婶婶感慨万千。乔治亚娜婶婶如同众多女性命运的写照。她们有才华、理想和前途一片光明的工作,却为了爱情或为了家庭放弃自我,被囚禁在家庭的牢笼中,最终在岁月的变迁中沦为为一个与时代格格不入的妇女。若干年后,回忆往事或者现实不经意的触动心底曾经的执著和梦想时,她们才感觉到迷茫、悔恨甚至自责。乔治亚娜婶婶正是千千万万这样中的女性一个。

      凯特?肖班:(Kate Chopin)凯特?肖班,(1851-1904)出生于美国圣路易斯。父亲在她四岁时去世,此后她由克里奥尔(生长于西印度群岛和南美各地的欧洲人后裔)母亲的家庭抚养长大。她于1870年嫁给了奥斯卡?肖班,一个棉花商。在1882她丈夫去世之后,朋友们鼓励她写作。她在快四十岁的时候出版了第一本小说《故障》。她随后又出版了两个选集:《支流人》和《阿卡迪一夜》。最后的主要作品是《觉醒》(The Awakening )。但是书中对通奸同情的笔调震惊了全美的书评人和读者。在圣路易斯,小说被从图书馆的书架上取下。肖邦本人也被圣路易斯文艺社取消会员资格。1899年底,她的出版商拒绝出版她的第三本短篇小说集。肖邦感到自己在文学领域受到排斥。在最后的岁月里,她几乎再也没有动笔。

      凯特?肖班是一位曾经被人遗忘,直到二十世纪中叶才被文学批评家们重新认识而闻名遐尔的美国现实主义女作家。她最大胆、最直接、最自觉地描写了女性的意识和权力, 提出了妇女平等的问题, 这一点使美国著名批评家爱德蒙?威尔逊大为惊讶, 称她为 D?H劳伦斯的先驱。
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