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Tropic of Cancer[北回归线][En/Cn]

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第10节

 

  如果我仍是一个有自尊心、有荣誉感。有抱负的汉子,那么这种生活无疑是跌到了堕落的底层。可是我欢迎这种生活,犹如一个重病人迎接死亡的到来。这是一种消极的现实,同死亡一样,这是一个没有死亡的痛苦、没有死亡的恐怖的天堂。在这个地下世界里唯一一件要紧的事是正确拼词和添标点符号,报上有何种灾祸都无关紧要,要紧的只是词儿拼写的是否正确。

This life which, if I were still a man with pride, honor, ambition and so forth, would seem like the bottom rung of degradation, I welcome now, as an invalid welcomes death. It's a negative reality, just like death – a sort of heaven without the pain and terror of dying. In this chthonian world the only thing of importance is orthography and punctuation. It doesn't matter what the nature of the calamity is, only whether it is spelled right.

 

  每一件新闻都同等重要,不论是晚礼服的最新款式还是一只新战舰、一场瘟疫、一次大爆炸、一项天文学新发现、河堤决口、列车颠覆、炒卖股票、毫无希望的赛马赌注、处决、拦路抢劫、暗杀等诸如此类的事情。什么也逃脱不过校对者的眼睛,可是什么也穿不透他的防弹背心。希尔夫人(从前的埃斯特乌小姐)给印度人阿格哈•米尔写信,说她对他的工作甚为满意。

Everything is on one level, whether it be the latest fashion for evening gowns, a new battleship, a plague, a high explosive, an astronomic discovery, a bank run, a railroad wreck, a bull market, a hundred to one shot, an execution, a stick up, an assassination, or what. Nothing escapes the proofreader's eye, but nothing penetrates his bulletproof vest. To the Hindoo Agha Mir, Madam Scheer (formerly Miss Esteve) writes saying she is quite satisfied with his work.

 

  “我于六月六日结婚,谢谢你。我们很幸福,我希望在你的神力庇护下我们会永远很幸福的。我电汇给你……钱……这是奖赏你的……”这个印度人是算命的,他能准确而又神秘地察觉你在想什么。他会劝导你,帮你摆脱所有烦恼和各种不遂意的事情,“请往巴黎麦克马洪大道二十号打电话或写信。”

"I was married June 6th and I thank you. We are very happy and I hope that thanks to your power it will be so forever. I am sending you by telegraph money order the sum of… to reward you…" The Hindoo Agha Mir foretells your future and reads all your thoughts in a precise and inexplicable way. He will advise you, will help you rid tourself of all your worries and troubles of all kinds, etc. Call or write 20 Avenue MacMahon, Paris.

 

  他猜你在想什么真是猜得棒极了!按我的理解这是说他没有一回猜错,从最琐碎的到最无耻的念头。这个印度人的时间一定很宽裕。或者是,他只集中精力去猜那些给他汇钱的人的思想。在同一版上我还看到一条标题宣布“宇宙扩展太快,甚有可能爆炸”,标题底下的照片上是一个头痛欲裂的脑袋瓜,再下来是一篇关于珍珠的谈话,署名是特克拉。他告诉大家,牡蛎可生产两种珍珠,“野生的”或东方珠和“养”珠。同一天在特里尔城大教堂里,德国人在展览基督的外衣,这是四十二年里首次把它从樟脑丸中取出,不过没有提到裤子和背心。还是同一天在奥地利萨尔茨堡,两只老鼠出生在一个人的胃里,信不信由你。一个有名的女电影演员两条腿搭在一起的照片登了出来:她正在英国海德公园里休息。下面是一个著名的画家说,“我承认柯立芝太太有魅力,有个性,即使她丈夫不是总统她也能成为十二位最有名望的美国人之一。”从采访维也纳的亨姆霍尔先生的一篇访问记中我读到……亨姆霍尔先生说,“在结束之前我想说,无可挑剔的剪裁和试穿仍是不够的,好裁缝的手艺只有穿着合适才算。一套衣服必须贴身,可是穿衣人行走或坐下时还要保持线条。”无论何时煤矿—一个英国煤矿里发生爆炸,请注意,国王和王后准会立即拍来电报表示哀悼。他们还经常去看重要的赛马,据这篇报道说,尽管那天的比赛是在德比举行的他们也去了。我相信这番记述,“下起了大雨,使国王和王后吃了一惊。”更令人心碎的还是这样的消息:“据称,在意大利那些迫害活动不是针对教会的,然而它们被用来反对教会的某些最敏感的机构。据称,它们并不反对教皇,只反对教皇的心脏和眼睛。”

He reads all your thoughts in a marvelous way! I take it that means without exception, from the most trivial thoughts to the most shameless. He must have a lot of time on his hands, this Agha Mir. Or does he only concentrate on the thoughts of those who send money by telegraph money order? In the same edition I notice a headline announcing that "the universe is expanding so fast it may burst" and underneath it is the photograph of a splitting headache. And then there is a spiel about the pearl, signed Tecla. The oyster produces both, he informs all and sundry. Both the "wild" or Oriental pearl, and the "cultured" pearl. On the same day, at the Cathedral of Trier, the Germans are exhibiting the Coat of Christ; it's the first time it's been taken out of the moth balls in forty two years. Nothing said about the pants and vest. In Salzburg, also the same day, two mice were born in a man's stomach, believe it or not. A famous movie actress is shown with her legs crossed: she is taking a rest in Hyde Park, and underneath a well-known painter remarks "I'll admit that Mrs. Coolidge has such charm and personality that she would have been one of the 12 famous Americans, even had her husband not been President." From an interview with Mr. Humhal, of Vienna, I glean the following… "Before I stop," said Mr. Humhal, "I'd like to say that faultless cut and fit does not suffice; the proof of good tailoring is seen in the wearing. A suit must bend to the body, yet keep its line when the wearer is walking or sitting." And whenever there is an explosion in a coal mine – a British coal mine – notice please that the King and Queen always send their condolences promptly, by telegraph. And they always attend the important races, though the other day, according to the copy, it was at the Derby, I believe, "heavy rains began to fall, much to the surprise of the King and Queen." More heart-rending, however, is an item like this: "It is claimed in Italy that the persecutions are not against the Church, but nevertheless they are conducted against the most exquisite parts of the Church. It is claimed that they are not against the Pope, but they are against the very heart and eyes of the Pope."

 

  我得走遍全世界才找得到这样一个舒服、适意的职位,这几乎难以置信。在美国,人们往你屁股底下塞爆竹来给你打气,当时我怎么能预料到自己这种气质的人的最理想职位竟是去寻找拼写错误?在那边你一心只想着有朝一日要当美国总统,可能每个人都是做总统的材料。这儿却不同了,这儿每个人都只能是一个零蛋,如果你成了名人也是出于侥幸,是一个奇迹。在这儿你能离开你出生的村庄的可能性只有千分之一,你的腿被枪打断或眼珠被打出来的机会却是一千比一。除非发生奇迹你才会成为将军或海军少将。

I had to travel precisely all around the world to find just such a comfortable, agreeable niche as this. It seems incredible almost. How could I have foreseen, in America, with all those firecrackers they put up your ass to give you pep and courage, that the ideal position for a man of my temperament was to look for orthographic mistakes? Over there you think of nothing but becoming President of the United States some day. Potentially every man is Presidential timber. Here it's different. Here every man is potentially a zero. If you become something or somebody it is an accident, a miracle. The chances are a thousand to one that you will never leave your native village. The chances are a thousand to one that you'll have your legs shot off or your eyes blown out. Unless the miracle happens and you find yourself a general or a rear admiral.

 

  可正是因为机缘对你不利,正因为没有多大希望,这儿的生活才可爱。过一天算一天。没有昨天,也没有明天,晴雨表永远不变,旗子始终半升半降。你在胳膊上系一块黑纱,在纽扣孔里别一段丝带。如果你有幸买得起,还可以替自己买一副特轻人造假肢,最好是铝的,它不妨碍你喝开胃酒、上动物园去看动物或是同时刻准备扑向一块新鲜的臭肉、沿着林荫道飞来飞去的兀鹰嘻戏。时光在流逝。如果你不是本地人而且一应证件都全,你尽可以接触传染源而不必担心感染。如果有可能,弄一份校对员的工作更好。这样,一切都妥了。就是说,假如你凌晨三点往家走时碰巧被骑自行车的警察拦住,你可以朝他们嘛僻啪啪地捻手指。早上市场上最忙乱时你可以买比利时鸡蛋,五十生丁一只。校对员通常不睡到中午不起床,甚至更晚。

But it's just because the chances are all against you, just because there is so little hope, that life is sweet over here. Day by day. No yesterdays and no tomorrows. The barometer never changes, the flag is always at half mast. You wear a piece of black crepe on your arm, you have a little ribbon in your buttonhole, and, if you are lucky enough to afford it, you buy yourself a pair of artificial lightweight limbs, aluminium preferably. Which does not prevent you from enjoying an apéritif or looking at the animals in the zoo or flirting with the vultures who sail up and down the boulevards always on the alert for fresh carrion. Time passes. If you're a stranger and your papers are in order you can expose yourself to infection without fear of being contaminated. It is better, if possible, to have a proofreader's job. Comme ça, tout s'arrange. That means, that if you happen to be strolling Home at three in the morning and you are intercepted by the bicycle cops, you can snap your fingers at them. In the morning, when the market is in swing, you can buy Belgian eggs, at fifty centimes apiece. A proofreader doesn't get up usually until noon, or a little after.

 

  挑一家紧挨着电影院的旅馆就好了,因为你若容易睡过头,日场电影的开映铃声会唤醒你。如果找不到一家紧挨电影院的旅馆,挑一家靠近墓地的也行,结果也是一样的。要紧的是,永远别泄气。永远别泄气。

It's well to choose a hotel near a cinema, because if you have a tendency to oversleep the bells will wake you up in time for the matinee. Of if you can't find a hotel near a cinema, choose one near a cemetery, it comes to the same thing. Above all, never despair. Il ne faut jamais désespérer.

 

  这也是我每天晚上试图向卡尔和范诺登耳朵里灌输的,这是一个没有希望的世界,不过用不着泄气。我仿佛皈依了一种新的宗教,仿佛每天夜里都向圣母玛丽亚做一次一年一度、连续九夭的祈祷。我想象不出如果自己当了报纸的编辑或美国总统又能得到什么好处,我处在一条死胡同里,这儿既自在又舒服。手里拿着一份报,我听着身边的乐声、嗡嗡的人说话声、排字机的叮当声,像是有一千只银手锅在通过衣物绞干机。不时有一只老鼠从我们脚下跑过,一只蟑螂从我们面前的墙上爬下来,细嫩的腿灵巧地小心移动着。白天的事件从你鼻子底下滑过,轻轻地、不引人注目,你不时地会遇到一个署名使你想到一只人手、一种自我主义以及这人的虚荣心。它们安详地滑过去,像送葬队列走进公墓大门时那样。用作抄写的桌子底下铺了厚厚的一层纸,一踩上去有点像踏在有一层软毛的地毯上。范诺登桌下到处洒着褐色的汤汁。十一点左右卖花生的小贩来了,他是一个智力有缺陷的美国人,他对自己的命运也挺满意。

Which is what I try to din into Carl and Van Norden every night. A world without hope, but no despair. It's as though I had been converted to a new religion, as though I were making an annual novena every night to Our Lady of Solace. I can't imagine what there would be to gain if I were made editor of the paper, or even President of the United States. I'm up a blind alley, and it's cosy and comfortable. With a piece of copy in my hand I listen to the music around me, the hum and drone of voices, the tinkle of the linotype machines, as if there were a thousand silver bracelets passing through a wringer; now and then a rat scurries past our feet or a cockroach descends the wall in front of us, moving nimbly and gingerly on his delicate legs. The events of the day are slid under your nose, quietly, unostentatiously, with, now and then, a by line to mark the presence of a human hand, an ego, a touch of vanity. The procession passes serenely, like a cortege entering the cemetery gates. The paper under the copy desk is so thick that it almost feels like a carpet with a soft nap. Under Van Norden's desk it is stained with brown juice. Around eleven o'clock the peanut vendor arrives, a half wit of an Armenian who is also content with his lot in life.

 

  我不时收到莫娜的电报说她将坐下一条船来,上面总是说,“信随后就要。”这种情况延续了九个月,可我从来没有从乘船来的旅客名单上看到她的名字,仆人也从未用银盘子托着一封信拿给我,我也就再不指望发生这种事情了。如果她真的来了,她可以在楼下找我,就在厕所后面。也许她会立即告诉我这里不卫生,一个美国女人对欧洲的第一观感便是不卫生。如果没有现代化抽水马桶她们就无法想象这儿是一个天堂;如果发现一只臭虫她们就要马上给商会写信。我怎么启齿向她解释我在这儿很满意?她一定会说我已经堕落了,她这一套我很清楚,她想找一间带花园的工作室,当然还得有浴盆。她要穷得浪漫,我了解她。不过这一回我都替她预备好了。

Now and then I get a cablegram from Mona saying that she's arriving on the next boat. "Letter following," it always says. It's been going on like this for nine months, but I never see her name in the list of boat arrivals, nor does the garçon ever bring me a letter on a silver platter. I haven't any more expectations in that direction either. If she ever does arrive she can look for me downstairs, just behind the lavatory. She'll probably tell me right away that it's unsanitary. That's the first thing that strikes an American woman about Europe – that it's unsanitary. Impossible for them to conceive of a paradise without modern plumbing. If they find a bedbug they want to write a letter immediately to the chamber of commerce. How am I ever going to explain to her that I'm contented here? She'll say I've become a degenerate. I know her line from beginning to end. She'll want to look for a studio with a garden attached – and a bathtub to be sure. She wants to be poor in a romantic way. I know her. But I'm prepared for her this time.

 

  有些天太阳出来了,我走下那条被人来回踏了许多遍的小径,一边如饥似渴地思念着她。尽管这种严酷的生活也令人满意,我仍不时会渴望过另一种方式的生活,会臆想如果身边有个年轻活泼的女人将会发生什么变化。麻烦的是我几乎已不记得她的模样了,也记不得搂着她时是什么感觉。过去的一切似乎都己沉入大海,我还有记忆力,不过眼前的形象已失去生气,它们好像死去了、散乱了,像插在泥沼上久经岁月侵蚀过。

There are days, nevertheless, when the sun is out and I get off the beaten path and think about her hungrily. Now and then, despite my grim satisfaction, I get to thinking about another way of life, get to wondering if it would make a difference having a young, restless creature by my side. The trouble is I can hardly remember what she looks like nor even how it feels to have my arms around her. Everything that belongs to the past seems to have fallen into the sea; I have memories, but the images have lost their vividness, they seem dead and desultory, like timebitten mummies stuck in a quagmire.

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