现代英文选评注 | Natives Don't Cry 亨利小姐的信 Kay Boyle

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作者凯·博伊尔(Kay Boyle,1902—1992)为美国现代女作家,生于明尼苏达州之圣保罗(St. Paul),曾在欧洲各处寄居多年,著书有长篇及短篇小说集多种。

博伊尔的文字很简单,故事亦不离奇曲折,然而轻描淡写之中,言似未尽而意亦未尽,颇耐人寻味。其描绘人生,凄怆处有含蓄,挖苦处存忠厚,哀而不怨,谑而不虐,皆深得“简约”之妙者。本文原题直译应为“土人是不哭的”,与全文有何关系,在下面注解中再研究,今姑且译为“亨利小姐的信”。原文见其短篇小说集《维也纳之白马》(The White Horses?of Vienna,1937年出版,1949年收入英国“企鹅丛书”。

We went to Austria that summer, and Miss Henley came to us the night before we left. She was not very pleased to come, but it was only for the month, so she came as a gift to us. She did not believe she would like us because of the hotel, where we were in London and because of the colour of mother's hair. She did not say these things to us in the same words, but she said them in other ways so that we knew.

  • We:从下文看来,指的是一家到欧洲去旅行的美国人:父亲、母亲、两个女小孩、一个男小孩。全篇叙事都是用一个女小孩的第一人称的口气。that summer:某年夏天。年代可能隔得很远。
  • Miss Henley的职位是保姆兼家庭教师,所谓governess便是。她是英国人,临时在英国受那美国家庭之聘,随赴奥地利,照料孩子。
  • 第二句说她不大高兴来,可是因为好歹只有一个月,勉强答应的。由此可见亨利小姐是个架子相当大的人。
  • gift 本意是“礼物”:自己没有出钱、别人好意送来的东西谓之“礼物”。我们不好算是出钱雇她的,只好算是她来帮我们的忙的。
  • 第三句还是说明这位小姐架子之大,而且夹着一点脾气怪僻在里面。她以为她不会喜欢我们这一家人的,第一因为是我们在伦敦所住的旅馆(不中她的意);第二因为是母亲头发的颜色(也不中她的意)。
  • 她的话并不是这样说的。措辞虽然不同,话里的意思是一样的,所以我们听得出来(so that we knew)。

We thought she was fifty because she had no colour in her face, and her hair was pinned back in a knot in her neck, and it was grey near the ears. Father took her passport on the French side, and when he came back to the car he said:

"I think you're much too young to be leaving home, Miss Henley."

  • colour:肤色之红润。knot:发髻。pinned back:梳到后面去,用发针扣住的。头发在脑后扣成一个髻,打扮不像少女。
  • near the ears:耳旁之头发,约相当于中文的“鬓”。
  • passport:护照。一行人到了法国,护照统归父亲拿去办理过境手续。父亲从她的护照里看见了她的年龄。
  • to be leaving home在to leave home之外更多一层“正在路上”的意思。假如说you're too young to leave home,这可能表示根本还没有动身。much加强too的意思。

"Miss Henley's almost as young as you girls," said father, and we saw the colour run into her cheeks. "She's only twenty-five!"

"How old did you think I was?" she said, and Francis said: "A hundred."

But he was so young there was nothing to say to him. It was just a number he had heard somewhere.

  • Miss Henley's=Miss Henley is。
  • How old did you think I was? 你们现在是知道我的年纪了,你们本来以为我是多大了?动词用过去式。
  • Francis是小弟弟的名字。他脱口而出地说是“一百岁”。
  • so young的后面省去了一个that。他年纪太小了,跟他没有什么好说的。他说“一百”,并不是真懂什么意思,不知道他哪里听来这样一个数目字而已。

She had been born in Burma, she was a civil servant's daughter, and she had no patience for the ways of any children except the children she and her brothers had been. In the hotels at night she took their pictures from her bag and set them on the bureau. She spoke of them all, and of the places they had lived. And she spoke of them only a little at a time, and not too often, as if they were too good to be given quite away.

  • Burma:缅甸。civil servant:公务员。
  • she had no patience for the ways of children:她对于小孩子们的那一套,是没有耐心的。可是她自己一度也是一个小孩子,她还有哥哥弟弟,他们小时候也该跟别的小孩子一样顽皮,一样难侍候,可是她对于她自己小时候和她哥哥弟弟小时候的那一套,她就“受得了”了。She and her brothers had been是定语从句,前面省一关系代名词that。
  • In the hotels:他们已经走了好几处地方,住过不同的旅馆,故hotels用多数。bureau照英国人的用法是“书桌”,照美国人的用法是“衣柜”(五斗柜)。本文作者是美国人,当依后者为是。
  • 她常讲起她的哥哥弟弟,可是每次只讲一点儿的事情,而且所讲的次数也并不十分多,好像他们的事情是件宝贝,不可以全部送人(一次说完)的。

Her family was dead, even the brothers, so there was no one left to write to, but there was Rudolpho. He was a name written out very big across an envelope.

She did not say these things or anything like them to mother. She never told her about Rudolpho although she wrote to him every day. She said to mother:

  • Rudolpho照下文看来该是她的男朋友的名字。这是怎么样的一个人,叙事的小孩子当然并不知道,作者也不要让读者晓得。作者所要读者注意的,只是她的信,而信封上大大地写着的是一个男人的名字。这个男人,她是每天写信给他的。

"Where would be a safe place to have mail sent to? I have to know about my letters."

And mother would say: "Oh, I'm sure the American Express or Thomas Cook would do."

But mother never said which city because she scarcely ever knew which country she was travelling in. She could not remember the capitals of Europe even.

  • 第一句用虚拟式的would:假如有信,该寄哪儿才妥当呢?
  • 第二句的would只是will的过去式:老师那样问,母亲总是这样答的。同句中的另一个would也是虚拟式。
  • American Express即American Express Co.,通用译名似为“美国通运银行”。该行之旅行支票,信用极好。Thomas Cook为著名英商旅行社,通用译名似为“通济隆”。那两家商号一向办理旅客服务,所以母亲提议托他们代转信件。
  • never:一路之上老师与母亲之间,常常有这样的一问一答。可是母亲从来不说明是什么城市,因此人家仍旧不知道信该寄到哪里。母亲连自己在哪一国都不大知道,欧洲各国的首都她也记不清楚的。

But she knew from father that we were going to Salzburg.

Father said: "If your young man likes to read so much, Miss Henley, I think he must be quite literary."

"Oh, he's not exactly like that!" said Miss Henley, laughing. "He's foreign, of course, but so many people are these days that one gets accustomed to it. He's been ten years in London, too, so you'd scarcely know. I don't know what he's doing to cheer himself up, poor thing. He must feel like a duck out of water. He wanted me to go, of course, and he told me not to hurry back, but I know perfectly well what's going on inside him!"

"You'll probably have mail waiting in Salzburg," said father.

  • Salzburg:奥地利西部的一个城市,为大音乐家莫扎特出生地。
  • literary:有文学修养的。
  • like that即指literary;说他有文学修养,还没有完全说对。
  • foreign:Rudolpho不像是一个英国人的名字,所以她说“他当然(of course)是个外国人”。名字以“o”收尾的人,可能是意大利、西班牙、葡萄牙等国的人。
  • So many people are的后面省去foreign一字:这个年头儿,很多人都是外国人,所以也不足为奇。accustomed to it之it=his being foreign。accustomed:习以为常。
  • so you'd…之'd为would的省写:假如你看见了他,你也看大不出他是个外国人(因为他在伦敦住过十年)。know的后面省去that he is foreign。
  • cheer himself up:解闷消愁。poor thing:可怜的人儿(因为不跟她在一起了)。那个男人似乎非但多情,而且还很识大体:他当然要我到欧洲去的,他还叫我别忙着回去呢。inside him:他心里面的事。

Father went to the post office the first thing in Salzburg. He took the passports in his hand, and when he came back he was carrying a great many things. There were letters from America, and there was mother's picture playing golf in?The Tatler, but there wasn't anything, there wasn't even a postcard for Miss Henley. She did not say anything. She sat quite still on the terrace of the coffee-house on the Mozart Place, and the sun was shining for a change. She looked straight into the sun, past father, smiling at what he said. He had said:

"There wasn't anything for you today, Miss Henley. Better luck tomorrow."

  • 就第一句看来,他们的信没有托旅行社转,而是由邮局代收,他们凭了护照去领回的。
  • The Tatler:英国著名画报。那位母亲恐怕是交际场中有名人物,在英国住了没有多久,她的玩高尔夫球的照片就在画报上登出来了。
  • terrace:(咖啡店前之)露台。Mozart Place:莫扎特广场。for a change:阴雨多日之后,天气变晴了。
  • past father:视线越过了父亲,直向太阳望去。past是介词。
  • smiling at what he said:对于父亲所说的话,她只报之以微笑。父亲说些什么话呢?下面接一句补充说明。但是话先说,她后微笑的,所以用过去完成式had said。
  • 这许多人中间,老师似乎是最急着要看信的人,偏偏没有她的信。可是没有信,她又是这样地镇定。人物的性格就此更值得玩味,而故事也更引人入胜了。

Mother opened her letters, and father opened his, and we did not look at Miss Henley. No one lifted their eyes, and no one felt easy in the silence at the table. Miss Henley sat with her cup of coffee and cream in front of her, and because she did not speak there was nothing for anyone to say. But Francis said:

"Maybe nobody likes you," and mother said quickly:

"Would you like to wander a bit by yourself this afternoon, Miss Henley? There's quite a lot to see here. You might go and see Mozart's skull."

"Mozart's skull!" cried Miss Henley. "How disgusting!"

  • easy:轻松。女先生到底窘不窘我们不知道,但是大家都替她觉得很窘。小弟弟“童言无忌”,说他那位老师“也许没有人喜欢”,母亲赶快出来解围。
  • wander:出去逛逛。Mozart's skull:莫扎特的头骨。莫扎特在Salzburg的故居,已改建为“莫扎特博物院”,藏莫氏遗物颇多。其头骨恐亦在彼处陈列。
  • How disgusting!用北京话说来,该是“多腻胃呀!”一个有教养,感觉敏锐的女子,是不会喜欢去看死人的头骨的。可是连莫扎特的都不愿意去看(尤其是从英国远道跑来的人),未免太“特立独行”了。大家正在替这位小姐觉得很窘,她的刚强的个性又表现出来了。

In the evening she was in the room still, she was sitting there in the half-darkness when we came home. She had been writing a letter by the window and she was putting the name on the envelope when we came in the door. Father came with us, and Miss Henley said:

"Where would the best place to change English money be?"

  • 上段母亲叫亨利小姐下午自己出去逛逛,本段是黄昏时分他们游毕返家(其实是旅馆,但仍可用home一字),发现亨利小姐坐在屋子里没有出去。
  • had been writing是过去完成进行式,接着又用一个过去进行式was writing。两种时态用在一句句子里,更容易体味它们的用法:我们回来之前,她就在写信;我们回来的时候,信是写完了,但是信封还没有写好;那时候她恰巧正在信封上写名字。
  • 问话用虚拟式,并没有说她一定要去换钱。

Miss Henley stood, very small and thin, with her hand holding to the back of the chair. She wore high black shoes, and a blouse, and a skirt that had no year and season, wide at the knees, and dark. She had never worn anything else but this, no matter how the weather changed.

  • 本段描写亨利小姐问话时的情形。我们出去玩了一个下午,她躲在家里写信,已经够可怜的了;现在看看她的模样,更觉得可怜。
  • blouse:女装的上身短衫。skirt:裙子。no year or season:看不出是哪一年的式样,或者是该那一季穿的。裙子的颜色很深,上半节是紧的,到了膝盖下面才张开来。

"Look here," said father. "If you'd like your salary in advance, you just tell us. I can pay it now or whenever you want it, just as you like."

"Not at all," said Miss Henley. "I had no intention of asking for anything in advance. I just happened to find a few shillings in my pocket and thought I would change them here. I only want to buy a stamp."

  • 父亲因为她提起要换钱的事,以为她要钱花了。in advance:预支(薪水)。
  • 可是她说她决不要预支什么。had用过去式,表示她刚才问话的时候,并没有预支什么的意思(intention)。happened to find:碰巧找到(几个先令)。
  • 前面刚刚说她很可怜,可是她傲骨非常,不要预支薪水。足见她不是一个求人哀怜的人物。可是她所要买的只是一张邮票;她收不到信,偏偏还把信看得这样的重要,似乎又值得可怜了。若是亨利小姐只是一味的可怜,非但文章难有波澜,而且将流入“伤感主义”(sentimentalism)的魔道。作者处处要把这个主角写成一个个性极强的人,个性这样的强,而其不知不觉中的言行又复如此可怜(有时抑且可笑),这才是真的可怜了。

At the end of the week we went away, we went up the valley into the mountains, and Miss Henley rode in the back with us. She held Francis on her lap, and she closed her eyes and told us of the places she had been. There were eight natives struck by lightning in the hills in Burma one night in summer, and she had seen them in the morning when the others carried them down. Their bodies were burned as black as logs in the fire.

  • went up the valley:城在山谷里,今离城往高处走,进入山里。in the back:汽车之后座。with us之us恐指三个小孩子。父母在前座。
  • lap:大腿。the places she had been:在she前省去relative adverb "where"一字。she closed her eyes:闭起眼睛,足见想得出神;而且对于沿路风景,似乎毫无兴趣。亨利小姐对于眼前的东西,似乎都没有什么兴趣;从她的言谈看来,她念念不忘的是她的过去;关于将来,她只有一个期待,那就是男朋友的信。
  • struck by lightning:遭雷打。
  • burned:烧焦。logs:木柴。

"What did you give them to make them stop crying?" Francis said.

"Natives don't cry," said Miss Henley. "They don't feel things the way other people do."

  • 小弟弟问道:“你给了他们些什么东西,他们才不哭的呢?”小弟弟以为,天下的人同他自己一样,哭的时候,只要有一块糖来骗骗他们,就会不哭的。小弟弟话里的“他们”,不一定指什么人,可能就是那些遭雷击的人,可能是他们的亲属。
  • 亨利小姐的答复:“土人是不哭的。”他们对于一件事情,觉得是喜还是怒,或者是哀还是乐,都同别人不一样(他们的感觉方式同别人的感觉方式不一样)。the way在这里当relative adverb用,引起下面一状语从句:other people do。说完全了应该是in the same way as,但普通口语用the way两个字已够。
  • 雷击土人一段穿插,似和主要故事无关,可是“土人是不哭的”一句话,作者竟用作全文标题,其意隐晦,颇难索解。可能只是因为这句话在小孩子脑筋里所留下的印象特别深?可能这一句话表示人和人之间的感觉方式不都一样,不哭之人也许正有可哭之由?可能这三个字只是代表一种刚毅坚忍的精神,恰如亨利小姐的为人?也许这几种意思只有这三个字才能充分表达,不说明反而比说明好?

It was cold climbing and father stopped the car for a glass of wine in a country tavern. We all went in and sat down by the stove, and mother and father and Miss Henley drank a pitcher of red, hot wine.

"How do you like Austria, Miss Henley?" mother said. "This is Austria, isn't it?"

  • cold climbing:冷的爬行;山行愈高愈寒。tavern:小酒店。pitcher:酒壶。
  • 母亲常常弄不清楚欧洲那些国家(见前文),这里问了人家喜欢不喜欢奥地利之后,再添问一句:“这是奥地利不是?”

"Oh, it's very like the country in Burma, you know," said Miss Henley. "I was telling the children. I've a friend who has a little car of his own. He drives it all over England. I told him we would be driving around Salzburg. It would be a joke, wouldn't it, if he suddenly turned up on the road?"

  • the country in Burma:缅甸的乡村。
  • I was telling the children:我刚才还在对孩子们说呢。这里用过去进行式,接着三个动词都是现在式,讲三件并不限定在某一个时间的事情:我有一个朋友,他有一辆汽车,他常在英国各处开来开去——她又讲起她的男朋友来了。
  • we would be driving是we will be driving的过去式。这里的will只表示将来,不表示意愿;第一人称用will代替shall以表示将来,在口语里面是很普通的。
  • turned up:出现(虚拟式)。假如忽然他驾了汽车在我们的公路上出现了,你说这是不是一个很大的玩笑喔?

"Perhaps he's going to surprise you by coming right over,"said father. Miss Henley's face squeezed up with laughter.

"It would be just like him to!" she said. "I'll never forget the time we were asked to a fancy-dress party. He dressed up the same as two friends of his did, and I never knew until the party was over and everybody unmasked that I'd been dancing with somebody else all evening. He had got tired," said Miss Henley, "and gone home early."

  • surprise you:吓你一跳。coming right over:从英国径自赶来。
  • squeezed up:皱缩。
  • It…like him to:他就是这样子的(爱弄玄虚)。to之后省略surprise me等字样。
  • fancy-dress party:化装舞会。as two of his friends did之did=dressed up:他的服装打扮跟他的两个朋友一模一样的。
  • unmasked:除去面具。她发现她一晚上一直是跟别人在跳舞。发现在后,用过去式,跳舞在先,当用过去完成式,可是又是一直地在跳,故用过去完成进行式。
  • 她的男朋友爱作弄人,化装舞会上把她交给别人伴陪着跳舞,自己因为疲倦,早回去了。

"That was a good joke," said mother.

Father said: "Have a little more wine."

"Oh, I never take much," said Miss Henley, watching him fill her glass up. "If this friend I was speaking of did happen along the children would have a wonderful time with him. He's like a child himself," she said, and she began to gasp with laughter. "He'd be down on his hands and knees all the time playing with Francis if he were here."

  • I never take much:我酒喝得不多。fill her glass up:把她的杯子斟满。
  • I was speaking of是定语从句,前面省一关系代名词whom。
  • did happen along:假如真的碰巧来了的话。did用以加重语气,所以用did而不用does者,是要表示“不合事实的假定”。请参照本段末一句if he were here。
  • gasp with laughter:笑得透不过气来。
  • down on his hands and knees:双手双膝爬在地上。

Day after day Miss Henley walked us slowly over the hillsides. Mother and father went up mountains together. Whenever we went back to the hotel, there would be letters on the table, but there would never be anything for Miss Henley.

"Nobody writes to you, Mrs. Hen," Francis said.

"My dear child," said Miss Henley. "As a matter of fact, Francis, if I wanted my letters sent here I could easily tell people to write to me here, couldn't I? So you see how silly you are."

  • walk当及物动词用是“带着走”。
  • Mrs. Hen是小弟弟替Miss Henley乱起的一个名字(老母鸡?)。
  • if I wanted my letters sent here:又是一句不合事实的假定。假如我要把信寄到这儿来的话,我随便一句话就可以通知人家寄到这儿来了,是不是?话中自承不是没有信,而是故意让人家寄到别处去了。

But we never saw her writing any more letters. She did not even speak of Rudolpho. She would sit reading books that mother gave her, and she never found any of them very good, as the books she had read somewhere else at some other time.

"Always the same old thing," she said, and she gave them back to mother. "Always love, love, love! It's just a bit tiresome I think, you know."

  • 亨利小姐看得入眼的东西很少,母亲的书她没有一本爱读的,她说它们总没有她以前在别的地方所看的书那么好。
  • 我们不再看见她写信了,她也不再提起男朋友的名字了。她也讨厌小说里老是讲什么爱情爱情的。

Mother and father put their feet out by the fire and mother said Miss Henley wasn't a good thing for the children even if she was leaving so soon. She said it was the worst thing to have this for every meal with you, this pall, this bitterness, this dead, unspoken sorrow. What could we give her to take away her silence, and her sharpness, and her grieving face?

  • 父亲母亲伸直了腿在烤火,母亲说:即使亨利小姐快要走了(她只来帮一个月的忙),她做孩子们的老师,总是不大好。thing可以解作person,这里的a good thing应该就是a good teacher。最糟的是:每顿饭都要看见她棺材罩子(pall)那样的神气,她那股子怨气(bitterness),那种半死不活(dead)、闷在肚子里的(unspoken)忧愁。我们有什么办法可以把她的沉默、她的尖刻、她的愁容消除掉呢?
  • 这里用了好几个抽象字眼。在本段之前,全文所记都是具体事实。作者用了很经济的手法,记录了很多件小事,不评不议,一切留待读者自寻结论。但是这里母亲要用两三句话把她对这位家庭教师讨厌的态度,概括地讲出来,那就非藉抽象名词之助不可。
  • 就作文一般原则而言,如作者目的为求生动,求含蓄,自宜多具体描写;如为求扼要,求明辨,则非用抽象名词不可。初学作文者,大抵喜具体,而不惯抽象;但抽象名词如不能熟用,则散漫之印象,难以统一,思想之精微处,更无由表达。凡善文者,必定具体抽象,左右逢源,得心应手者也。

Then one morning, father and mother took us up a mountain. We left very early, while it was dark still. When we got to the hotel it was six o'clock and Miss Henley was giving Francis his bath. There was a look of something else in her face, and whatever she said to us she couldn't keep from smiling.

  • 父亲母亲带我们去爬山——“我们”是“我”同妹妹,老师和小弟弟没有去。我们回来的时候,她正在替小弟弟洗澡。她的脸上有一种特别的表情,随便讲什么,都忍不住要笑。笑容刚好和上段所说的愁容成对比。

"Did we get any mail?" said mother.

"Oh, all the mail was for me for a change today," said Miss Henley.

"Oh, how nice," said mother.

"It was quite a joke," said Miss Henley, her face squeezed up with laughter. "The porter came staggering up—three telegrams and seven letters! They'd never heard of such a thing here! You can imagine!"

  • for a change:来信一向都是你们的,今天换过来了,都是我的了。
  • staggering:踉跄。手里的信多得路都不会走了!夸张正显其得意。
  • such a thing:一个人一天有这么多信。imagine:想象(他们的诧异情形)。

"I hope your young man's well?" said father.

"Oh, he's awfully well, thank you," said Miss Henley. "He'd put the wrong address on all the letters and they were all returned to him. So that explains how it was, you see. He's awfully excited about the Lindberghs being in England. He's working on a newspaper now and he's been trying to find out where they are so as to get a peep at them and perhaps a word or two for a story."

  • awfully=very。
  • He'd put=he had put。前面她不是说故意不让人家把信往这儿寄吗?怎么现在又说是人家写错了地址(address)呢?作者虽未加按语,但亨利小姐的话显然自相矛盾。
  • how it was:为什么老没有信。
  • Lindberghs:林白夫妇。Charles Lindbergh:美国飞行家,为不着陆飞渡大西洋第一人(时在1927年)。
  • get a peep at them:看到他们一眼,a peep和下面的a word在修辞学上都是“弱说法”(understatement),事实上当然不止希望看到一眼或听到一两句话而已。a story:新闻特稿,这里不作“小说”解。

"Well, we'll get a good bottle of wine tonight," said father, "and we'll all drink to Rudolpho!"

"Oh, that's so nice of you," said Miss Henley, "but you know how little I drink."

  • drink to Rudolpho:为他干杯。
  • how little I drink:我多么的不会喝酒。亨利小姐得意之余,犹不失其小姐架子。但是她是真的得意吗?

It wasn't until after the bottle of wine had been drunk and Miss Henley had taken Francis up to bed that father said anything about it. Then he said to mother at the table:

"There wasn't any mail at all today. The bus broke down on the road and nothing ever came through. The porter told me when we came back this evening. The mailbag was still hanging there waiting in the hall."

"I think the girls had better go up to bed," said mother. "They've been up a mountain and they're awfully tired."

  • until是介词。after the bottle…to bed是名词性从句。
  • at the table:在餐桌上。
  • broke down:机件损坏,无法行走;俗语“抛锚”。mailbag:邮件袋(相当于邮箱)。waiting:等候邮差到来,把信放进去。
  • 亨利小姐的高兴,原来并无根据。做老师的撒谎,孩子们的母亲也许不会原谅的,但是读者会不会原谅她呢?我们细读全文,看不出有什么迹象可以证实她确有一位名叫Rudolpho的男朋友。她说收到了信固然是谎话,她的那些关于男朋友的话(虽然说得那么活龙活现),可能也都是向壁虚构。她撒了那许多谎,有什么动机呢?当然她不想害什么人,她假如存心想骗人,也无非想维持自己的尊严(她的自尊心非常之强,文章中屡次提到这一点),免得因为没有男朋友,因为没有亲人和她写信,而遭人看轻,受人怜悯。假如她是在自己骗自己,想从幻想里面得到感情的满足,那么亨利小姐是个很可怜的人了。但是请记得:亨利小姐是不要别人可怜的。

(本文摘自《现代英文选评注》:京东正版购买链接

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