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可怜的梭罗――读《瓦尔登湖》翻译(十三)   

2010-04-04 12:51:44|  分类: 《瓦尔登湖》 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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    When we consider what, to use the words of the catechism, is the chief end of man, and what are the true necessaries and means of life, it appears as if men had deliberately chosen the common mode of living because they preferred it to any other. Yet they honestly think there is no choice left. But alert and healthy natures remember that the sun rose clear. It is never too late to give up our prejudices. No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true today may turn out to be falsehood tomorrow, mere smoke of opinion, which some had trusted for a cloud that would sprinkle fertilizing rain on their fields. What old people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can. Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new. Old people did not know enough once, perchance, to fetch fresh fuel to keep the fire a-going; new people put a little dry wood under a pot, and are whirled round the globe with the speed of birds, in a way to kill old people, as the phrase is. Age is no better, hardly so well, qualified for an instructor as youth, for it has not profited so much as it has lost. One may almost doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living. Practically, the old have no very important advice to give the young, their own experience has been so partial, and their lives have been such miserable failures, for private reasons, as they must believe; and it may be that they have some faith left which belies that experience, and they are only less young than they were. I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors. They have told me nothing, and probably cannot tell me anything to the purpose. Here is life, an experiment to a great extent untried by me; but it does not avail me that they have tried it. If I have any experience which I think valuable, I am sure to reflect that this my Mentors said nothing about.

(徐迟译)当我们用教义问答法的方式,思考着什么是人生的宗旨,什么是生活的真正的必需品与资料时,仿佛人们还曾审慎从事地选择了这种生活的共同方式,而不要任何别的方式似的。其实他们知道,舍此而外,别无可以挑选的方式。但清醒健康的人都知道,太阳终古常新。抛弃我们的偏见,是永远不会来不及的。无论如何古老的思想与行为,除非有确证,便不可以轻信。在今天人人附和或以为不妨默认的真理,很可能在明天变成虚无缥缈的氤氲但还会有人认为是乌云,可以将一阵甘霖洒落到大地上来。把老头子认为办不到的事来试办一下,你往往办成功了。老人有旧的一套,新人有新的一套。古人不知添上燃料便可使火焰不灭:新人却把干柴放在水壶底下:谚语说得好:“气死老头子”,现在的人还可以绕着地球转,迅疾如飞鸟呢。老年人,虽然年纪一把,未必能把年轻的一代指导得更好,甚至他们未必够得上资格来指导;因为他们虽有不少收获,却也已大有损失。我们可以这样怀疑,即使最聪明的人,活了一世,他又能懂得多少生活的绝对价值呢。实际上,老年人是不会有什么极其重要的忠告给予年轻人的。他们的经验是这样地支离破碎,他们的生活已经是这样地惨痛的失败过了他们必须知道大错都是自己铸成的;也许,他们还保留若干信心,这与他们的经验是不相符合的,却可惜他们已经不够年轻了。我在这星球上生活了三十来年,还没有听到过老长辈们一个字,可谓有价值的,堪称热忱的忠告的。他们什么也没告诉过我,也许他们是不能告诉我什么中肯的意见了。这里就是生命,一个试验,它的极大部分我都没有体验过;老年人体验过了,但却于我无用。如果我得到了我认为有用的任何经验,我一定会这样想的,这个经验嘛,我的老师长们可是提都没有提起过的呢。

英语中“to use the words of the catechism”说得很清楚,“用……的话说”,而不是以“以……的方式思索”,况且,这一部分是说明下文出处(From the Westminster Catechism: "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever."的,并不包括这之前的“When we consider what”这一部分。即“当我们思考什么是――用教义问答集上的话说――‘人的主要目的’,什么是生活的真正必需和手段时,好像这种普遍的生活方式是人们因为喜欢而有意选择的。而人们也真诚地相信他们只好如此,别无选择。”

人的天性若是不曾污染,还是健康的敏感的,应该知道我们是可以选择的。我们要放弃偏见,不轻易相信过去的观念。

smoke of opinion”“their fields”从梭罗的表达上可以看出这里是两层意思(如比喻的本体和喻体),一方面指 “是一缕烟而不是能降雨的云”,另一方面指过去正确的而今天对于我们却可能失效。“虚无缥缈的氤氲”应是徐迟的风格,注重译笔优美。

年长者未必比年轻者更有资格指导人――是与“年轻者”相比,不是指导“年轻者”――因为他们收获的尚抵不过他们失去的。

英语原文doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living”中,把“by living”置于句末,就有突出之意,即“最聪明的人若仅是活着又能学到什么绝对价值的东西呢?”我估计梭罗的意思是人要真正地生活(alive)以及享受生活,而不仅仅是“活着”。

……for private reasons, as they must believe”是“他们也一定认为他们的生活--由于私密的原因--败得很惨。”

下面附上Ken Kifer就这一段的评注:Now, Thoreau is getting to the main theme of Walden: what is the purpose of our lives? The answer found in the Westminster Catechism is "to glorify God and enjoy him forever." This purpose, while not stated here, is a reminder to the readers of the contradiction between their beliefs and their behavior. Thoreau also asks the questions about the necessities and means of life because he is going to examine those subjects as well.

Two paragraphs earlier, he was urging his readers not to be locked into their own opinions of themselves. In the majority of this paragraph, however, he is warning his readers not to be locked into old ways of thinking. Although there is a tendency to see Thoreau as someone who was opposed to progress, it's quite definite here that he sides with modern ways of thinking and doing.

His advice is to learn to understand life for ourselves and to not depend upon or trust authorities who have their own failures to look back at. While Thoreau is hoping to influence others, he is not seeking followers: each person has to interpret life anew as an individual.

(戴欢译)当我们以问答测验的形式来思索着人生的宗旨究竟是什么,什么才是生活真正的必需品和意图时,人们好像显得经过了一番深思熟虑才选择了这种生活方式――因为他们更喜欢这种方式,而将其他任何方式排除在外。他们也清楚地知道,除此之外,他们别无选择。但生性敏感而又健康的人都知晓,太阳亘久晨升夕落放弃我们的偏见,永远不会太迟。无论哪种源于祖传的思维和举止,在未经证明前,都不可轻信。今天得到众人的一片喝彩声或者默认无妨的真理,或许明天反倒成了谬论,只不过这种谬论的烟雾某些人还会当作是滋润大地的及时雨呢。前人认定不能办的事,你尝试过后,发现还是能够办的。前人有前人的行事准则,而后人则有自己的一套。古人不知添加燃料可使火焰经久不灭;后人却知将一点干柴架在锅底,还可犹如鸟一般,绕着地球飞旋。还是古谚说得好:气死老家伙。

  老年人虽然阅历丰富,但未必更有资格去做年轻人的好导师,因为他们虽然收益,所失也会颇多。我们几乎可以怀疑,即便是最为聪慧的人,活了一生一世,又领悟了多少生活的绝对价值呢?说老实话,老年人并不能带给年轻人什么非常重要的忠告,他们自身的经验是如此零零散散,他们的生活是如此的惨痛失败,他们必须不加掩饰地承认这种失败应归结于自身的缘故;或许,他们还残存着些许信心,这与他们的经验有点相左,只是他们的青春年华已一去不回了。我在这行星上生活了三十余年,我尚未从长辈那里洗耳恭听到有价值的一个字,或者是热忱的忠告。他们对我是无可奉告,也可能是有意不愿告诉我什么吧。这就是人生,一个我大部分尚未亲历的试验;老年人已经亲历过了,但对我却没有助益。如果我获取了自认为有价值的经验,我肯定会想到我的良师益友们可是从未提起过这个经验呢。

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