现代英文选评注 | The Ballet Dancer 芭蕾舞家 Jane Mayhall

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本篇选自《1949年美国最佳短篇小说集》(The Best American Short?Stories 1949,edited by Martha Foley)。作者珍·梅霍(Jane Mayhall,1918—2009)是一位女作家,曾有多种作品问世。原题“The Men”,记作者记忆中印象最深刻的三位男性,第一位就是这里所要转载介绍的舞蹈家,第二位是她中学时代的一个图书馆管理员,第三位是大学时代的一位教授。就严格的体例言之,全文似乎不像是一篇短篇小说,而像是三则速写(sketches)。但是作者对于感觉印象,把握得准而且稳;尤其可贵的是她对于瞬息间感觉印象的变化,都能很正确生动地记录下来。本文不但可以当一件艺术品来欣赏,作者这种认真的写作态度,也是值得有志文学创作之士效法的。

I remember when I was eleven years old and attended a ballet for the first time. It was held at the Memorial Auditorium, a large building in the town where I lived.

During the first group of dances, I sat up very high in the balcony with my family and the stage seemed too far away. It was a pretty show at such a distance, but the dancers with their bright dots of costumes appeared as small and no more alive than marionettes.

  • ballet:普通译作“芭蕾舞”。按:ballet以舞蹈表示故事的进展和人物感情的起伏,似可译作“舞剧”。
  • Memorial Auditorium:纪念堂。
  • first group of dances:头几个舞。balcony:楼座。
  • 这里末一句开始显出作者的功夫:从远远的、高高的楼座望底下台上,该是怎么回事。戏是很美丽的戏,但是舞者们显得太小,动作也不活泼,同木偶(marionettes)戏差不多。costumes:演员的服装,大多为丝绢所制,本有光彩,经灯光照耀,更显明亮,但是观察者坐得远,一身衣服看上去只成一小点(dot),故云bright dots of costumes。
  • as small之后,照一般语法书规定,还应跟一个as。

When intermission came some friends of the family suggested that I sit down in the second row orchestra with them. This was probably because they considered me a "nice little girl," a point of view to which I had no objection.

  • intermission:休息时间,观众可以离座出去谈话。
  • sit down之sit是subjunctive mood现在式。作者家里长辈的朋友在楼下正厅有空座,提议把她接到那边去看。先不过是一种提议,并非是事实,故用subjunctive mood。
  • second row orchestra:正厅第二排。orchestra这里不解释作“乐队”,而是“正厅前座”。
  • 他们认为她是一个“乖小女孩”(nice little girl),所以要她坐在一起。他们这种看法,她并不反对。a point of view 综括地代表前面所说的这种“看法”,是一种同位语的说明法。

The world of second row orchestra was an immensely different one. The seats were softer and had slightly reclining backs. Here the members of the audience sat with much dignity, as if each had been appointed to a separate throne, I thought. A sweet flowery scent came from the ladies. As they settled into their places, one heard a faint sound of silk and fur.

  • 她的长辈如何地让她下去,她如何地被搀着走……这些与题旨无关,作者都略而不记。
  • world:指环境而言,从楼上搬到楼下来坐,好像进了另外一个“世界”。immensely different:大大地不同。
  • backs:椅子的靠背。slightly reclining:微向后倾。
  • audience作“听众”解是集合名词。“听众中的一位”便是a member of the audience。with much dignity:很庄严地。前排观众多半是社会上有身份人士,as if…从句中的动词是subjunctive mood。throne:王座。他们的座位并非王座,故用虚拟式。separate:个别的,每人分到一座。
  • scent:香味。flowery:花似的(可能是香水的香)。
  • As they settled into their places:休息时间将满,观众进场就座。作者鼻觉芬芳之香,耳闻丝裘悉索之声,虽未用眼睛,而女士们服饰的豪华,已如在目前。

Then the music began. Everyone leaned forward. The high arc of the curtain lifted as if moved by a hundred tiny unseen hands. The stage before us was a forest, bathed in willowy green light. The backdrop was splotched with painted leaves and gawk-headed birds whose artificiality seemed, for some reason, particularly exciting.

  • 音乐声作,戏又将开场。观众的上身往前倾——这是很自然的反应,但写文章的人能有几个会注意到这种“小节”?
  • arc of the curtain:幕是成弧状地升上去。未升之前,不见其成弧状(arc),故high与arc不能分。幕升上去,很整齐,很灵巧,很利落(坐在远处就注意不到了,所以一定要在作者座位更动后才描写),一个十一岁的女孩子看起来一定觉得很奇怪,所以说“好像是一百只看不见的小手把它提起来的”。
  • bathed:舞台“浴”于灯光之中。willowy green:杨柳似的绿(请注意作者此处选字的功夫)。
  • backdrop:作为布景的一块幕。splotched:斑斑点点地涂上去。gawkheaded:头的姿态很笨拙的。artificiality:人为性。树叶和小鸟都是画上去的,故云artificial(人为的),小孩子看舞台布景,明知是假的,但是看上去更有劲。要问什么理由,自己也说不上来。for some reason:为了某种理由。

The dancers stepped forward, the make-up sharp on their faces.

But how near, how human they were! Their eyes moved, their lips smiled. Rising together and beginning to twirl on the tips of their toes, they were much more admirable from here than from afar!

  • make-up:脸上的化装,脂粉油彩。sharp:很明显的。make-up和sharp之间,照一般语法书说来,该有一个现在分词“being”。
  • 作者坐近了,看得清楚了,大为兴奋。how human…:多么像人。请不要忘记:刚才只像木偶。
  • twirl:旋转。注意介词用on。

It was a warm spring night. The sky appeared to reflect a pleasant tropical heat. Men wearing sky blue jackets leapt to girls whose dresses ruffled like swans. Their smiles mingled, their arms embroidered the air with wonderful patterns. Several more dancers came forward, carrying garlands of green and yellow flowers into which they wove themselves. And all with such remarkable enjoyment! Surely something marvelous was going to happen.

  • warm spring night:不可能指演戏的那天晚上,而是指舞台上所表现的情景。作者已经把全副精神放到台上去了。
  • reflect:反射出来。tropical:热带的。
  • jacket:短上衣。leapt to=leapt to meet:跳过去迎接,to是介词。ruffled:起皱纹像天鹅(swans)的毛一样地蓬松起来。男舞人们穿的是天蓝色上衣,舞娘们的衣服可能是白色的。
  • mingled:混合。(男女舞人的笑容怎么会混合起来的呢?)patterns:图案。embroidered:刺绣。手臂舞动,在空中绣出种种奇妙的图案。
  • garlands:花圈。into which they wove themselves:把自己也编进花圈里去。使人看得眼花缭乱,“人”“花”不分。wove是weave(编织)的过去式。
  • enjoyment:舞人们做种种动作,精神显得很是愉快。
  • 舞蹈如此,似乎已尽美矣;然而不然,这一切似乎不过都是准备。好戏还在后头。

And then it did.

Suddenly the music stopped. The only sound to be heard was a thin, somewhat unsteady tone of a violin. The gaily costumed characters moved back silently and made way for someone.

A little flap in the backdrop pulled open. And a young man stepped forth.

  • And then it did.=And then something marvelous did happen.奇妙的事果然发生了。
  • unsteady:不稳定的,似断似续的;两个字都形容小提琴的声音。
  • gaily costumed:衣服色彩鲜艳的。characters:剧中人物。made way for:让开路,好让别人走。
  • flap:幕上可启闭的小门。

The rest of the dancers departed and left him alone. The lights took on a white hue and one saw that the young man was very pale with dark-penciled eyes. He was dressed in a light blousing shirt and tight breeches of cream-colored satin.

Stepping forward, with casual grace, he began to dance.

  • the lights took on a white hue:灯光本来绿如春日之柳,现在绿得稍微淡一点了(hue:颜色的浓淡层次)。淡淡的绿光照着,青年舞蹈家的脸色显得苍白,相形之下,他的眼睛也很明显地看出是经过黑铅笔勾划过的。
  • light:轻飘飘的,形容shirt。blouse本意是“宽松的上衣”,因此可作动词(=to assume a blouse-like form,宽宽松松,作blouse状。解见《韦氏新国际字典》)。blousing是动词blouse的现在分词。裤子(breeches)很紧。全身衣服,都是乳黄色缎子所做成。
  • 他向前走来,漫不经心(casual),而姿势优雅(grace);举起双臂,舞将起来了。

At first, all I could realize of him was the delicate-footed motion, the coolness and lightness of the figure. He wore soft close-fitting slippers and the insteps of his feet were so beautiful and alive that I fell in love with them at once. He was small and perfectly formed, slender-hipped and probably quite typical of the ballet dancer. And perhaps there was something too mannered and too self-conscious in the face. His eyes were drawn to appear elongated, Oriental. The head was finely shaped, dark-haired. But the very self-conscious style of him seemed to add to the charm. What could equal the stance, the quick lightning movements of the body, or the severe control of its quietness?

  • all I could realize of him:我所能看出来的(realize=be fully aware of)。figure:身段。coolness:冷静,不露出狂热。lightness:轻灵。
  • close-fitting slippers:贴肉的软底舞鞋。insteps:脚背。这个小女孩子最先爱上的不是那个舞蹈家的脸,也不是他的身段,更不是他的不可捉摸的精神,而是他的脚背!一个芭蕾舞蹈家最迷人的地方恐怕该是他的灵活的脚背吧。
  • perfectly formed:身材合度。slender-hipped:臀部瘦细。typical of the ballet dancer:是个典型的芭蕾舞蹈家。
  • 下一句讲脸上的表情。mannered:做作的。self-conscious:自觉的(自觉在表演,未能忘我,艺术恐尚未臻化境)。
  • drawn:勾划(可能作“吊起”解)。elongated, Oriental:细长的,像是东方人的。西洋人以为东方人的眼睛大多是斜而细长的。
  • the very self-conscious style of him…:他的表演虽未能忘我,似乎却益显其为人之可爱。very是形容词,加重语气之用。
  • stance:站的姿势。its quietness的its指the body's。

But none of these features by themselves gave the full effect. The complete harmonious accord of the moment—there was no way to explain it.

When the ballet was over and the dancers were bowing outside the curtain, I felt a terrible childish sadness, the kind that is felt only after the accidental pleasure. It is a puzzling sensation, the regret for the loss of that which one had not—no, never—even hoped for in the first place!

  • features:特色。harmonious accord:和谐一致。作者所感觉到的效果,并不是由于上述特色中的任何一种,而是由于这些特色的和谐的配合。她以为这是没法说明的。
  • accidental pleasure:无意中得来的乐事。起初本来不准备有这样的快乐的经验,失掉了不应该觉得可惜,可是现在却另有一种怅惘之感。puzzling sensation:令人难以了解的感觉。

The young man stood a little in front of the others, bowing. I noticed that his ears were beautifully pointed and his hair was sleek.

  • 青年舞蹈家站出来谢幕,她看得更清楚了,她注意到他的耳朵的形状和头发的光滑。(鞠躬的时候不是头发和耳朵尖在最前头吗?)

The lights in the Auditorium went up. The orchestra began to play. People put on their wraps and began to talk in matter-of-fact voices. But I was gravely occupied with the memory of the young man. Moving slowly in the large arena of the Auditorium, I felt that I would never forget him. I listened dreamily to the music and watched the audience make its dignified parade to the rear exit. It seemed, to my impressionable mind, that everything existed only for the contemplation of him.

  • went up:灯亮起来了。wraps:大衣外套之类。matter-of-fact:枯燥无味的,家常的。他们已经脱离舞蹈的幻境了。
  • large arena of the Auditorium:在这纪念堂的大屋子里。
  • make its dignified parade:很堂皇地排班而出。make是省掉to的infinitive。its代替of the audience。rear exit:后面的出口(太平门)。
  • contemplation of him:想念他。好像一切事物,都是为了想念他才存在的。小妮子痴矣。

(本文摘自《现代英文选评注》:京东正版购买链接

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