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经济学人双语人文新闻在线试听:英国乡绅 一路顺风

Lily85 于2013-03-14发布 l 已有人浏览
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亚当·尼克森写过很多以历史和农村为题材的著作,其中包括介绍他家位于不列颠群岛两端的两处房产:肯特州的悉心赫斯特城堡和外赫布里斯群岛的西恩特群岛。现在他已经将注意力转向他家族所在的阶层。他的祖母,维塔·萨克维尔·维斯特,是一位生活无所顾忌贵族。 但是尼克森指出乡绅阶层是由两种人组成的:“出身绅士的平民”,他们出身于已退变为乡绅阶层的旧式家族的年轻一代;“出身平民的绅士”,也就是那些出身卑微,但是凭借自己的能力和成就挤入上层社会的人。
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Books and Arts; Book Review;The English gentry;Happy landings;
文艺;书评;英国乡绅;一路顺风;

The gentry: story of the English. By Adam Nicolson.
《乡绅:英国的故事》,亚当·尼克森著。

Adam Nicolson has written many books on history and the countryside, including two about his family's properties at opposite ends of the British Isles, Sissinghurst Castle in Kent and the Shiant Isles in the Outer Hebrides. Now he has turned his attention to the class to which his family can be said to belong. His grandmother, Vita Sackville-West, was unashamedly a member of the aristocracy but Mr Nicolson states that the gentry has always been composed of “Gentle Ungentles”, younger sons and daughters of old families who have declined into the gentry, and “Ungentle Gentles”, people of more humble origin who through their ability and achievements have advanced up the social ladder.
亚当·尼克森写过很多以历史和农村为题材的著作,其中包括介绍他家位于不列颠群岛两端的两处房产:肯特州的悉心赫斯特城堡和外赫布里斯群岛的西恩特群岛。现在他已经将注意力转向他家族所在的阶层。他的祖母,维塔·萨克维尔·维斯特,是一位生活无所顾忌贵族。 但是尼克森指出乡绅阶层是由两种人组成的:“出身绅士的平民”,他们出身于已退变为乡绅阶层的旧式家族的年轻一代;“出身平民的绅士”,也就是那些出身卑微,但是凭借自己的能力和成就挤入上层社会的人。

Today the term “gentry” in Britain evokes “the introductory chat at an upper-middle-class dinner party—how did you get here, who do you know, how is Aletheia?” It suggests a cosy, genteel, exclusive and somewhat smug world in which background and family are deemed more important than individual qualities. It is also often preceded by the word “landed”. The launch of “Burke's Landed Gentry”, an encyclopedic tome first published in 1826, is partly responsible for this (though the ownership of land ceased to be a requirement for a family to appear in the book as long ago as the 1920s). But the principal reason is that the story of the gentry is all “about Land”.
如今在英国“乡绅”这个词让人想到的就是“在一个上流社会的晚宴上开始闲聊的前奏——你怎么过来的啊?你认识谁呢?阿莱西娅最近可好呀?”这表明在这个亲切、高雅、排外,甚至几分自鸣得意的阶层里,一个人的背景和出身比他的品性更为重要。"乡绅"的前面也经常会加上“有土地的”这个词。这个词(即 landed gentry)的普及有一部份原因归功于1826年初版的百科全书式大本书《伯克乡绅名录》。(尽管早在上世纪二十年代,拥有土地便不再是一个家庭载入史册的必要条件)。但其主要原因在于所有关于乡绅的故事都和“土地”密不可分。

Mr Nicolson has taken 12 families who are scattered all over England (strictly speaking, one is in Wales), and, using letters, diaries and legal documents, told their stories at a particular date and crisis in their existence. He has produced a wonderful portrait of England and the families that were its bedrock. The tale begins 600 years ago with the Plumptons, caught up in the Wars of the Roses, and concludes with the Cliffords, who have owned and farmed the same corner of Gloucestershire for almost 1,000 years. Whereas the core values of grace, enterprise and chivalry were crucial to the gentry's idea of themselves, Mr Nicolson makes it clear that money and conflict were as important as blood and family. The gentry were a flexible class and lived a life of struggle and competition. There was no certainty. Survival was what mattered and there was much hedging of bets.
尼克森从分布在英格兰各个地方(严格说,有一个在威尔士)的十二个家族着手,并利用相关的信件、日记、和法律文书,讲述他们某段时间里的故事和生活中的危机。他描绘英国壮丽的景象,而这些家庭则构成了英国的牢固基础。故事从在600年前玫瑰战争中没落的Plumpton家族说起,到在格洛斯特郡拥有同一处土地并耕作1000年之久的Clifford家族结束。虽然乡绅阶级自认一些例如优雅,进取和骑士风度这样的核心价值是他们的重要特点,尼克森明确指出钱、斗争同血缘、家庭一样重要。乡绅阶层善于适应新的环境,他们的生活中无处不乏竞争和奋斗。生活没有确定性。生存下来才是关键,他们擅于骑墙,确保自己不吃亏。

At its best the gentry's idea of goodness and civilisation was attached to a particular place and an “interfolding of people, land, animals, food, housing and hospitality”. A sense of order, sociability and well-being was expressed through landscape. Everything depended on an underpinning of money and a connection with London and Westminster was generally essential to prosperity. Many of the gentry were members of the House of Commons. Survival was often contingent on being on the “right” side during the Wars of the Roses, at the time of the Reformation, through the upheavals of the 17th century. In the 1940s Sir Richard Acland, a Christian socialist, made over the bulk of his large estate in Devon to the National Trust, but he was an exception. Not everyone was as ruthless as Henry Lascelles, who in the 1700s amassed a fortune through sugar plantations in Barbados and the exploitation of African slaves; but in general the story is of “the political and economic dominance of a…cannily self-renewing class”.
只有依托于某个特定的氛围中,在土地,房屋,客人,动物,食物,宴会交相辉映的背景下,才能看到绅士文明高贵的一面。绅士阶层的秩序感、社会感和幸福感也是通过对自然景观的描述来表现。一切以钱为基础,同伦敦、威斯敏斯特(伦敦议会所在地)有关的事情通常对繁荣发展都至关重要。许多乡绅都是下议院的议员。在玫瑰战争、宗教改革、以及十七世纪动荡期,生存往往取决于站对立场。上世纪四十年代,基督教社会主义党人Richard Acland将自己大部分土地转让给国民信托组织,这在当时独一无二。十八世纪,Henry Lascelles靠在巴巴多斯的蔗糖种植园和剥削非奴积累大量财富,但并不是每个人都像他一样冷酷无情。但总体来说,这是关于这样一个精明谨慎、自我革新的阶层如何影响政治和经济的故事。

In tracing the rise and fall of this ruling class, Mr Nicolson has some fascinating stories to tell, and he tells them well, not least that of the Capels, who were forced by penury to live abroad and found themselves in Brussels on the eve of the battle of Waterloo. He concludes that competition, unkindness and dominance always underlay the beautiful sense of community which the gentry world embodied. But that is life: it is “a struggle and community is political”.
随着统治阶层的兴亡更迭,尼克森讲述了一些引人入胜的故事,而且他说得恰到好处,尤其是说到Capel家族因为贫穷被迫流亡海外,最终在滑铁卢战争前夕到达布鲁塞尔。乡绅所象征的优雅阶级表面之下是由激烈竞争、不近人情、恃强凌弱这些特质所支撑的。但这就是人生,是一次努力奋斗,人聚集在一起就是政治。

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