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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.


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。”


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。


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.



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