现代英文选评注 | A Visit to the Grandfather's Grave 扫墓 James Turner Jackson

更多精彩,请关注微信公众号:田间小站

本文选自Mentor Books(木铎丛书)出的New World Writing第一辑,原题“The Visit”,叙述一个老祖母拖了她的小孙儿上坟的故事。文中描写着重之处,在那个行将就木的老祖母对于坟墓的变态的恋念,和小孙儿对于这个“苦差使”的厌恶和恐惧,以及老少二人之间心理关系的紧张。全文颇不易读,这里所选几段,约当原文篇幅的十分之一,虽然深刻不如原来那篇小说,但仍不失为一篇很好的叙事文。作者杰克逊(James Turner Jackson)是美国密西根州人,曾在华盛顿州立大学执教,有短篇小说和论文多篇问世。

In the winter, three years ago, his grandfather died. For almost a year, then, his grandmother never left town. She kept up her garden, and tended the ceremonial plants growing in the bay windows of her house.

  • keep up=keep in proper state:使园中花木茂盛。tended:照料,整修灌溉。ceremonial:礼节上应用的;预备供在坟前的(植物)。bay windows:凸窗;窗往外凸出,窗内因此可多吸收阳光。

In the late afternoon, most often, the car was filled with flowers, and together they drove out to a nearby cemetery where his grandfather was. They were going to see (so she told him each time they went) how his grandfather's grave was getting on. After the car was unloaded, and the flowers and shears and transplanting pots arranged in orderly rows beside the grave, she would send him down to the standpipe with a pail for water. In this manner, his work began. And when he finished the watering, she would set him to picking up fallen leaves and twigs. Not a moment was wasted.

  • drove out:驾车出去。cemetery:公墓。
  • how…was getting on:情形怎么样了。第二句的括弧中语:他们每次出去扫墓,祖母都要对他这样说。
  • unloaded:把车上的东西搬下来。shears:(刈花草用之)剪刀。pots:花盆。transplanting:移植用的;有些花得先种在盆里,然后再移植到地上去。arranged in orderly rows:整整齐齐地排列成行。arranged前面省去were一字。
  • standpipe:竖管(直立于地上的自来水管)。pail:水桶。祖母差他下去打水去,打了水来浇花(watering),浇完了花,再去捡地上的枯枝败叶。
  • set him to…:使他去做某一件工作。注意:to的后面跟动名词(或名词)。

It was the year when his grandmother was still very clear, and very rigid about what she wanted. By her reckoning, every plot in the cemetery, save hers alone, was poorly tended. Each time a flower was cut or trimmed by her hand, she counted off the number of its blossoms. And pointing to an adjoining grave, she would often shake her head, and wonder how it was that people were so shiftless and lazy-minded and ignorant. She herself would be painstaking unto the last detail; and for this, if for no other reason, always brought with her a mail-order catalogue, to which she might have immediate recourse for pictures—together with complete descriptions—of monuments fashioned of enduring granite, perpetual marble.

  • clear:神志清明。那年她的神志还好,以后就差了。rigid:严格的。她所要办的,一定得办到。
  • by her reckoning:由她看来。plot:地段。墓里的地,一家一块。她认为别家的地都照料得不好。save=except:除了她家的一块以外。
  • a flower:本来可解释作“一朵花”,但这里应作“一棵花”,与its blossoms(它上面的花朵)相对。她每次亲手修(trimmed)剪(cut)一棵花,她一定要把上面的花朵数清楚(counted off)。
  • an adjoining grave:邻近的一座坟。她常常指着边上的一座坟,摇头叹息,奇怪别人怎么这样地想不出主意(shiftless),不肯动脑筋(lazy-minded),而且没有知识(ignorant)。how it was…中之it代表that所引起之名词性从句“这到底是怎么一回事”。
  • painstaking:非常仔细,决不马虎。unto是to的较古的形式。
  • for this, if for no other reason:为了这个,假如不是为了别个理由。理由可能还有别的,可是我们就拿这点理由来说吧:因为她决不马虎,所以扫墓的时候她还要来研究坟前应该配什么样的一块墓碑(monuments也可能包括雕像、牌坊、墓亭等的意思,但这里只是墓碑而已)。
  • mail-order catalogue:(商店之)函购目录。美国有些大商店,印了很讲究的函购目录,附有详细图文说明。照本文看来,似乎连墓碑都可以函购的。
  • to which之to照语法结构应连在后面recourse之后。have recourse to:用来帮忙,用来参考。immediate:立刻(就用得着)。
  • pictures应和of monuments相连。她要打开目录来,看墓碑的图画。fashioned:制造。granite:花岗石。marble:大理石。enduring和perpetual在这里意义相仿:可以永垂不朽的。
  • descriptions:说明文字。图画之外,另有详细说明。

When the flowers had been placed to her exact liking, she stepped back a few paces, customarily, and with the catalogue open in her hand sought to envision which of the pictured memorials would be most seemly at her husband's grave. She walked back and forth, glancing at the catalogue, weighing her decision. Soon, at her call, he stopped whatever he was doing, and came to help her read the fine print beneath the glossy pictures.

  • to her exact liking:恰如她所喜欢那样的。placed:摆设,供奉。
  • customarily:成了习惯的了。sought=tried。envision:从心目中看来。pictured:绘成图画的(也可能是摄成相片的)。memorials=monuments。seemly:合适的。她退后数步,目录打开,拿在手里,心里在设想:目录里所画的墓碑,哪一座配在她丈夫的坟上才顶合适。
  • weighing:权衡优劣,考虑。her decision:她所看中了的(那座墓碑)。
  • at her call:听她一叫。whatever he was doing:不论他在做什么(浇花或是收拾地上),他都得住了手,走过去帮老祖母读目录。
  • fine print:印得很小的字体。老祖母眼睛有病,视力不济,小字看不出,非请帮手不可。glossy:明亮光滑的。好的铜版纸上所印的图片,应该用这个字来形容。

But each time it seemed that no final decision could be rendered. They would study the catalogue at length, and then his grandmother would send him back to the car. He would load the back seat, and then, while his grandmother remained at the grave alone, he would watch the long arcs of the water sprinklers shining in the last sunlight of the day. In such a light, the cemetery looked very plain to him: the trees simple and lofty in height, and all the tombstones austere in their carving. He tried to keep his head turned decently away, but sometimes, glancing back despite himself, he would see his grandmother above the mounded earth of the grave, her arms rising up in dark weaving shapes of despair and worship. In the coming dusk he would hear the sharp whispering outcries of her lament, above even the humming sound of the water-sprinklers. And though her eye bothered and afflicted her more month by month, that year when they started for home she still drove with lumbering and powerful speed.

  • 第一句的rendered,可以用made代替。前面的fashioned,也可以用made来代替,但是这只可以表示make一字用法之多,render和fashion两字是不可以互易的。
  • at length:很详细地。
  • load the back seat:带来的东西用过后,搬回到车子后座上去。
  • water-sprinklers:喷水机(这里指的是电动的不用人照顾的那一种,大花园中有)。arc:弧状曲线。
  • tombstones:(别家坟上的)墓碑。austere in their carving:碑上的雕刻看来很严肃。
  • keep his head turned away:故意把头转过去,不朝某一个方向看。decently:很有规矩地。祖母在墓前哭,他自以为他是不该看的。
  • despite himself:想控制自己而不可得,他的眼睛偶尔还要朝后看。mounded earth:坟堆。
  • her arms…以下为nominative absolute phrase。天色已晚,她的双臂在黑暗中举起,所作(weaving:织成)种种姿势,礼拜(worship)死者之外,亦正显示生者内心悲苦,因此颓然不支(despair)也。
  • coming dusk:暮色四合。lament:哀悼。the humming sound of the sprinklers:喷水机马达的轧轧之声。humming所代表的声音并不像水声,而是像电风扇马达所发出的声音那一类的。马达虽轧轧作响,可是老祖母的尖细的哭声他还听得见。
  • bothered and afflicted her:给她麻烦,也给她罪受。lumbering and powerful speed:车子开得很猛,可是笨重不稳。老祖母目疾虽与月俱增,那一年她精神还不减少壮,观其开车之“冲”,便知其内心激动,不可自已,如有力量,从后驱策,其悲痛亦不言可喻矣。

(本文摘自《现代英文选评注》:京东正版购买链接

打赏

微信赞赏支付宝赞赏