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Tropic of Cancer  北回归线-第四章

Easter came in like a frozen hare – but it was fairly warm in bed. Today it is lovely again and along the Champs-Elysées at twilight it is like an outdoor seraglio choked with dark-eyed houris. The trees are in full foliage and of a verdure so pure, so rich, that it seems as though they were still wet and glistening with dew. From the Palais du Louvre to the Etoile it is like a piece of music for the pianoforte. For five days I have not touched the typewriter nor looked at a book; nor have I had a single idea in my head except to go to the American Express. At nine this morning I was there, just as the doors were being opened, and again at one o'clock. No news. At four thirty I dash out of the hotel, resolved to make a last-minute stab at it. Just as I turn the corner I brush against Walter Pach. Since he doesn't recognize me, and since I have nothing to say to him, I make no attempt to arrest him. Later, when I am stretching my legs in the Tuileries his figure reverts to mind. He was a little stooped, pensive, with a sort of serene yet reserved smile on his face. I wonder, as I look up at this softly enameled sky, so faintly tinted, which does not bulge today with heavy rain clouds but smiles like a piece of old china, I wonder what goes on in the mind of this man who translated the four thick volumes of the History of Art when he takes in this blissful cosmos with his drooping eye.


Along the Champs Elysées, ideas pouring from me like sweat. I ought to be rich enough to have a secretary to whom I could dictate as I walk, because my best thoughts always come when I am away from the machine.


Walking along the Champs Elysées I keep thinking of my really superb health. When I say "health" I mean optimism, to be truthful. Incurably optimistic! Still have one foot in the nineteenth century. I'm a bit retarded, like most Americans. Carl finds it disgusting, this optimism. "I have only to talk about a meal," he says, "and you're radiant!" It's a fact. The mere thought of a meal – another meal – rejuvenates me. A meal! That means something to go on – a few solid hours of work, an erection possibly. I don't deny it. I have health, good solid, animal health. The only thing that stands between me and a future is a meal, another meal.


As for Carl, he's not himself these days. He's upset, his nerves are jangled. He says he's ill, and I believe him, but I don't feel badly about it.


I can't. In fact, it makes me laugh. And that offends him, of course. Everything wounds him – my laughter, my hunger, my persistence, my insouciance, everything. One day he wants to blow his brains out because he can't stand this lousy hole of a Europe any more; the next day he talks of going to Arizona "where they look you square in the eye."


"Do it!" I say. "Do one thing or the other, you bastard, but don't try to cloud my healthy eye with your melancholy breath!"


But that's just it! In Europe one gets used to doing nothing. You sit on your ass and whine all day. You get contaminated. You rot.


Fundamentally Carl is a snob, an aristocratic little prick who lives in a dementia praecox kingdom all his own. "I hate Paris!" he whines. "All these stupid people playing cards all day … look at them! And the writing! What's the use of putting words together? "get the hell out of here, you old prick!" – that is beyond him. Nobody understands Marlowe's French, not even the whores. For that matter, it's difficult enough to understand his English when he's under the weather. He blabbers and spits like a confirmed stutterer … no sequence to his phrases. "You pay!" that's one thing he manages to get out clearly.


Even if he is fried to the hat some fine preservative instinct always warns Marlowe when it is time to act. If there is any doubt in his mind as to how the drinks are going to be paid he will be sure to put on a stunt. The usual one is to pretend that he is going blind. Carl knows all his tricks by now, and so when Marlowe suddenly claps his hands to his temples and begins to act it out Carl gives him a boot in the ass and says: "Come out of it, you sap! You don't have to do that with me!"


Whether it is a cunning piece of revenge or not, I don't know, but at any rate Marlowe is paying Carl back in good coin. Leaning over us confidentially he relates in a hoarse, croaking voice a piece of gossip which he picked up in the course of his peregrinations from bar to bar. Carl looks up in amazement. He's pale under the gills. Marlowe repeats the story with variations. Each time Carl wilts a little more. "But that's impossible!" he finally blurts out. "No it ain't!" croaks Marlowe. "You're gonna lose your job … I got it straight." Carl looks at me in despair. "Is he shitting me, that bastard?" he murmurs in my ear. And then aloud – "What am I going to do now? I'll never find another job. It took me a year to land this one."


This, apparently, is all that Marlowe has been waiting to hear. At last he has found someone worse off than himself. "They be hard times!" he croaks, and his bony skull glows with a cold, electric fire.


Leaving the Dôme Marlowe explains between hiccups that he's got to return to San Francisco. He seems genuinely touched now by Carl's helplessness. He proposes that Carl and I take over the review during his absence. "I can trust you, Carl," he says. And then suddenly he gets an attack, a real one this time. He almost collapses in the gutter. We haul him to a bistro at the Boulevard Edgar Quinet and sit him down. This time he's really got It – a blinding headache that makes him squeal and grunt and rock himself to and fro like a dumb brute that's been struck by a sledge hammer. We spill a couple of Fernet Brancas down his throat, lay him out on the bench and cover his eyes with his muffler. He lies there groaning. In a little while we hear him snoring.


"What about his proposition?" says Carl. "Should we take it up? He says he'll give me a thousand francs when he comes back. I know he won't, but what about it?" He looks at Marlowe sprawled out on the bench, lifts the muffer from his eyes, and puts it back again. Suddenly a mischievous grin lights up his face. "Listen, Joe," he says, beckoning me to move closer, "we'll take him up on it. We'll take his lousy review over and we'll fuck him good and proper."


"What do you mean by that?"


"Why we'll throw out all the other contributors and we'll fill it with our own shit – that's what!"


"Yeah, but what kind of shit?"


"Any kind … he won't be able to do anything about it. We'll fuck him good and proper. One good number and after that the magazine'll be finished. Are you game, Joe?"


Grinning and chuckling we lift Marlowe to his feet and haul him to Carl's room. When we turn on the lights there's a woman in the bed waiting for Carl. "I forgot all about her," says Carl. We turn the cunt loose and shove Marlowe into bed. In a minute or so there's a knock at the door. It's Van Norden. He's all aflutter. Lost a plate of false teeth – at the Bal Nègre, he thinks. Anyway, we get to bed, the four of us. Marlowe stinks like a smoked fish.


In the morning Marlowe and Van Norden leave to search for the false teeth. Marlowe is blubbering. He imagines they are his teeth.



Memoirs Of A Geisha

艺伎回忆录(Memoirs Of A Geisha)

阿瑟.高登[Arthur Golden]



Tropic of Cancer

北回归线(Tropic of Cancer)

亨利.米勒[Henry Miller]

米勒的第一部自传体小说 中英对照


The Glass Castle

玻璃城堡(The Glass Castle)

珍妮特.沃尔斯[Jeannette Walls]