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Tropic of Cancer  北回归线-第二章第三节

It is a beautiful woman who has come to look at the apartment. An American, of course. I stand at the window with my back to her watching a sparrow pecking at a fresh turd. Amazing how easily the sparrow is provided for. It is raining a bit and the drops are very big. I used to think a bird couldn't fly if its wings got wet. Amazing how these rich dames come to Paris and find all the swell studios. A little talent and a big purse. If it rains they have a chance to display their brand new slickers. Food is nothing: sometimes they're so busy gadding about that they haven't time for lunch. Just a little sandwich, a wafer, at the Café de la Paix or the Ritz Bar. "For the daughters of gentlefolk only" – that's what it says at the old studio of Puvis de Chavannes. Happened to pass there the other day. Rich American cunts with paint boxes slung over their shoulders. A little talent and a fat purse.


The sparrow is hopping frantically from one cobblestone to another. Truly herculean efforts, if you stop to examine closely. Everywhere there is food lying about – in the gutter, I mean. The beautiful American woman is inquiring about the toilet. The toilet! Let me show you, you velvet snooted gazelle! The toilet, you say? Par ici, Madame. N'oubliez pas que les places numérotées sont réservées aux mutilés de la guerre.


Boris is rubbing his hands – he is putting the finishing touches to the deal. The dogs are barking in the courtyard; they bark like wolves. Upstairs Mrs. Melverness is moving the furniture around. She had nothing to do all day, she's bored; if she finds a crumb of dirt anywhere she cleans the whole house. There's a bunch of green grapes on the table and a bottle of wine – vin de choix, ten degrees. "Yes," says Boris. "I could make a washstand for you, just come here, please. Yes, this is the toilet. There is one upstairs too, of course. Yes, a thousand francs a month. You don't care much for Utrillo, you say? No, this is it. It needs a new washer, that's all….


She's going in a minute now. Boris hasn't even introduced me this time. The son of a bitch! Whenever it's a rich cunt he forgets to introduce me. In a few minutes I'll be able to sit down again and type. Somehow I don't feel like it any more today. My spirit is dribbling away. She may come back in an hour or so and take the chair from under my ass. How the hell can a man write when he doesn't know where he's going to sit the next half-hour? If this rich bastard takes the place I won't even have a place to sleep. It's hard to know, when you're in such a jam, which is worse – not having a place to sleep or not having a place to work. One can sleep almost anywhere, but one must have a place to work. Even if it's not a masterpiece you're doing. Even a bad novel requires a chair to sit on and a bit of privacy. These rich cunts never think of a thing like that. Whenever they want to lower their soft behinds there's always a chair standing ready for them…


Last night we left Sylvester and his God sitting together before the hearth. Sylvester in his pajamas, Moldorf with a cigar between his lips. Sylvester is peeling an orange. He puts the peel on the couch cover. Moldorf draws closer to him. He asks permission to read again that brilliant parody, The Gates of Heaven. We are getting ready to go, Boris and I. We are too gay for this sickroom atmosphere. Tania is going with us. She is gay because she is going to escape. Boris is gay because the God in Moldorf is dead. I am gay because it is another act we are going to put on.


Moldorf's voice is reverent. "Can I stay with you, Sylvester, until you go to bed?" He has been staying with him for the last six days, buying medicine, running errands for Tania, comforting, consoling, guarding the portals against malevolent intruders like Boris and his scalawags. He is like a savage who has discovered that his idol was mutilated during the night. There he sits, at the idol's feet, with breadfruit and grease and jabberwocky prayers. His voice goes out unctuously. His limbs are already paralyzed.


To Tania he speaks as if she were a priestess who had broken her vows. "You must make yourself worthy. Sylvester is your God." And while Sylvester is upstairs suffering (he has a little wheeze in the chest) the priest and the priestess devour the food. "You are polluting yourself," he says, the gravy dripping from his lips. He has the capacity for eating and suffering at the same time. While he fends off the dangerous ones he puts out his fat little paw and strokes Tania's hair. "I'm beginning to fall in love with you. You are like my Fanny."


In other respects it has been a fine day for Moldorf. A letter arrived from America. Moe is getting A's in everything. Murray is learning to ride the bicycle. The victrola was repaired. You can see from the expression on his face that there were other things in the letter besides report cards and velocipedes. You can be sure of it because this afternoon he bought 325 francs worth of jewelry for his Fanny. In addition he wrote her a twenty-page letter. The garçon brought him page after page, filled his fountain pen, served his coffee and cigars, fanned him a little when he perspired, brushed the crumbs from the table, lit his cigar when it went out, bought stamps for him, danced on him, pirouetted, salaamed … broke his spine damned near. The tip was fat. Bigger and fatter than a Corona Corona. Moldorf probably mentioned it in his diary. It was for Fanny's sake. The bracelet and the earrings, they were worth every son he spent. Better to spend it on Fanny than waste it on little strumpets like Germaine and Odette. Yes, he told Tania so. He showed her his trunk. It is crammed with gifts – for Fanny, and for Moe and Murray.


"My Fanny is the most intelligent woman in the world. I have been searching and searching to find a flaw in her – but there's not one.


"She's perfect I'll tell you what Fanny can do. She plays bridge like a shark; she's interested in Zionism; you give her an old hat, for instance, and see what she can do with it. A little twist here, a ribbon there, and voilà que1que chose de beau! Do you know what is perfect bliss? To sit beside Fanny, when Moe and Murray have gone to bed, and listen to the radio. She sits there so peacefully. I am rewarded for all my struggles and heartaches in just watching her. She listens intelligently. When I think of your stinking Montparnasse and then of my evenings in Bay Ridge with Fanny after a big meal, I tell you there is no comparison. A simple thing like food, the children, the soft lamps, and Fanny sitting there, a little tired, but cheerful, contented, heavy with bread … we just sit there for hours without saying a word. That's bliss!


"Today she writes me a letter – not one of those dull stock-report letters. She writes me from the heart, in language that even my little Murray could understand. She's delicate about everything, Fanny. She says that the children must continue their education but the expense worries her. It will cost a thousand bucks to send little Murray to school. Moe, of course, will get a scholarship. But little Murray, that little genius, Murray, what are we going to do about him? I wrote Fanny not to worry. Send Murray to school, I said. What's another thousand dollars? I'll make more money this year than ever before. I'll do it for little Murray – because he's a genius, that kid."


I should like to be there when Fanny opens the trunk. "See, Fanny, this is what I bought in Budapest from an old Jew… This is what they wear in Bulgaria – it's pure wool… This belonged to the Duke of something or other – no, you don't wind it, you put it in the sun… This I want you to wear, Fanny, when we go to the Opera … wear it with that comb I showed you… And this, Fanny, is something Tania picked up for me … she's a little bit on your type…"


And Fanny is sitting there on the settee, just as she was in the oleograph, with Moe on one side of her and little Murray, Murray the genius, on the other. Her fat legs are a little too short to reach the floor. Her eyes have a dull permanganate glow. Breasts like ripe red cabbage; they bobble a little when she leans forward. But the sad thing about her is that the juice has been cut off. She sits there like a dead storage battery; her face is out of plumb – it needs a little animation, a sudden spurt of juice to bring it back into focus. Moldorf is jumping around in front of her like a fat toad. His flesh quivers. He slips and it is difficult for him to roll over again on his belly. She prods him with her thick toes. His eyes protrude a little further. "Kick me again, Fanny, that was good."


She gives him a good prod this time – it leaves a permanent dent in his paunch. His face is close to the carpet; the wattles are joggling in the nap of the rug. He livens up a bit, flips around, springs from furniture to furniture. "Fanny, you are marvelous!" He is sitting now on her shoulder. He bites a little piece from her ear, just a little tip from the lobe where it doesn't hurt. But she's still dead – all storage battery and no juice. He falls on her lap and lies there quivering like a toothache. He is all warm now and helpless. His belly glistens like a patent-leather shoe. In the sockets of his eyes a pair of fancy vest buttons. "Unbutton my eyes, Fanny, I want to see you better!" Fanny carries him to bed and drops a little hot wax over his eyes. She puts rings around his navel and a thermometer up his ass. She places him and he quivers again. Suddenly he's dwindled, shrunk completely out of sight. She searches all over for him, in her intestines, everywhere. Something is tickling her – she doesn't know where exactly.


The bed is full of toads and fancy vest buttons. "Fanny, where are you?" Something is tickling her – she can't say where. The buttons are dropping off the bed. The toads are climbing the walls. A tickling and a tickling. "Fanny, take the wax out of my eyes! I want to look at you!" But Fanny is laughing, squirming with laughter. There is something inside her, tickling and tickling. She'll die laughing if she doesn't find it. "Fanny, the trunk is full of beautiful things. Fanny, do you hear me?" Fanny is laughing, laughing like a fat worm. Her belly is swollen with laughter. Her legs are getting blue. "O God, Morris, there is something tickling me… I can't help it!"




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]