现代英文选评注 | Captain Carlsen 卡尔逊船长 Thomas Whiteside

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本交原载1958年12月13日The New Yorker。该周刊有一栏“人物素描”,叫做Profiles(侧影),所收的人物种类繁多,是很有兴趣的读物。The New Yorker的文章大多写得都很工整典雅。本文作者托马斯·怀赛德(Thomas Whiteside,1918 - 1997)所描写的卡尔逊船长是个航海英雄,其人在狂风中救船的事迹,可歌可泣。原文很长,这里只短短地节录了几段。因为文章篇幅长,原文的句子也都很长,这里也已缩短了很多,短文章里用长句子是很别扭的。

Of all the winter storms to sweep the North Atlantic in recent years, few are more sorely remembered by seafaring people and the inhabitants of many European coastal areas than the gales that prevailed over the eastern part of the ocean during the last few days of 1951. The area of disturbance extended from Scandinavia to the Iberian Peninsula, and even into North Africa, and the storms stretched westward into the ocean for several hundred miles.

  • sweep:吹过。这字隐含风的力量。sorely remembered:痛苦地被记得。seafaring people:出海航行的人。coastal areas:海岸区域。gales:强风(速度约每小时25英里至75英里)。prevailed:(在那个地方)发威。
  • 首句的主要结构是few are more sorely remembered…than…。历年冬季的暴风之中,很少有一次比得上那一年的。
  • area of disturbance:狂风所及之区。Iberian Peninsula:西班牙、葡萄牙所在之半岛。
  • stretched westward:狂风主要范围是在大西洋东岸,但它也往西伸展到大西洋中间去。

Of all the manifold adversities brought on by the storms, none attracted such intense interest here and throughout the world as the plight of a United States freighter named the Flying Enterprise. The American public began to hear about the Flying Enterprise on December 29th, when press dispatches from Europe reported that she was encountering severe hurricane conditions some three hundred and thirty miles southwest of Cape Clear, on the southern tip of Ireland, and that her situation was grave.

  • 第一段第一句的句法是:Of all the…few are more…than…。现在第二段第一句的句法,又是Of all the…none attracted such…as…,这样似乎句法变化太少。但是原文的第一段很长,隔了很久,再出现一句结构相类似的句子,未足为病。这里只摘录了两句,隔得太近,所以看起来似乎不舒服。但是初学英文的读者,趁这机会把这种句法多看看,也是好事。
  • manifold adversities:多种的灾祸。bring (brought) on:引起。
  • intense interest:强烈的兴趣。here:在美国。plight:(困难的)处境。freighter:货船。
  • press dispatches:新闻界的电讯。she:船用女性代名词。hurricane:比gale更强的风。此字的狭义是指从西印度群岛吹向美国东海岸的飓风。东大西洋的风实际上并不是hurricane,但是情形已很类似。所以说这艘船“遭遇到类似飓风的情形”。some:大约。tip:尖端。

By the following day, the storms were at their worst over most of the eastern Atlantic, and it became apparent that the gravity of the freighter's position had deepened into desperation. While these events were dramatic, what really focussed attention on the Flying Enterprise was the news that her captain had chosen to remain aboard after ordering everybody else off, and that he was sticking to his ship with the expressed determination to keep command of her as long as she remained afloat, or at least, a tug took her safely in tow. The name of the captain was Henrik Kurt Carlsen—a name that was to become familiar throughout the world over the next two weeks. The story of Carlsen's unremitting effort to save the Flying Enterprise, relayed to the public in day-by-day installments in the press and over the air, was enough to excite anybody's imagination.

  • at their worst:凶恶到极点。这种成语很有用,如:He is at his best.(表现得特别出色;正在最佳状态。)不用best,worst,而用其他形容词的最高级形式亦可。
  • 上段说the situation was grave,这是已经够严重的了。现在更进一步,于是说the gravity…had deepened into desperation。(desperation:绝望。)本来用形容词grave,现在改用抽象名词gravity;此句最好的字是动词deepen,它把两个抽象名词连接得很稳。普通中国学生最觉得难用恐怕是抽象名词;因为一句的主语或宾语若是抽象名词,它前后的动词也非得慎加挑选不可。这句若改成:

The situation had become desperate.

亦无不可。但是如把grave转化成为 gravity,再使它deepened into desperation,这样读者也得到一种“思想条理清楚”之乐。

  • dramatic:戏剧性,紧张动人。(原文所举的事情很多,故these events所指的很清楚。这里把那些事情都省略了,这两个字稍觉模糊。)
  • focussed attention on:使注意力集中于。chosen:自愿(善恶或勇怯间的选择)。aboard:在船上。ordering…off:命令余人下船。
  • sticking to:坚守。expressed determination:明白表示的决心。
  • remained:此字在本句中见了两次,remained aboard与remained afloat(还能浮在水面,不往下沉)。remain和be,become等相仿,是linking verb,不过它所表示的是动词的“继续相”(durative aspect)——所说的情形要维持一个时候。to keep command of the ship:(继续指挥全船)也是表示“继续相”的。
  • tug:拖大船的小轮(马力甚大)。take her…in tow:把这条船拖走。
  • unremitting effort:不懈的努力。relayed:传达。installments:一天报告一段的“段”。over the air:广播。

It was a drama that had all but pushed the war in Korea off the front pages for almost a fortnight, and public sympathy for Carlsen over the loss of his ship was exceeded only by the universally expressed admiration for his courage and resourcefulness in attempting to save her. New York gave him an enthusiastic ticker-tape reception, and medals and citations for bravery were pressed upon him by Congress and the governments of many other countries. All sorts of commercial offers were pressed upon him, too, and if he had accepted them, he would have become wealthy overnight. But Carlsen did not accept them; he refused to cash in on his popularity. "I only did my duty as a simple seaman," he explained. He seemed like a hero from another time.

  • all but=almost。the war in Korea:1951年12月正是朝鲜战争激烈的时候。pushed…off the front pages:卡尔逊的事,占满了报纸第一版,反而把朝鲜战争那种重要新闻几乎给“挤”走了。
  • 两个抽象名词给一个动词连接起来,成一句子,前面已经说过,这里又是一个例子:public sympathy…was exceeded by the…admiration…。此句的妙处也在动词(exceeded:超过)。卡尔逊船长的船终于沉海,全世界的人都同情他得不得了。这种同情之大,似乎没有东西可以超过它了。但是有一样东西可以超过它,那就是举世所表示对他的钦仰(admiration)。他努力救船,人们佩服他的勇气,也佩服他的智谋(resourcefulness)。
  • reception:欢迎。ticker-tape:电报纸带。英雄凯旋归来时,市民纷纷以彩色纸带向他抛掷。
  • citations for bravery:褒扬忠勇之辞,褒状。pressed upon him:硬塞给他;他不要,也得要。
  • commercial offers:商业性的奉献。如请他担任某公司的董事,或请他签名介绍某种商品等。pressed upon him连用两次,第二次在后面加了一个too。
  • overnight:隔夕之间(顿成暴富)。
  • his popularity:他的“风头”。
  • cash in on:利用之以赚钱。
  • a hero from another time:尽职而不求名利,实有“古风”。

(本文摘自《现代英文选评注》:京东正版购买链接

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