譯藝blog之緣起：先談《伊坦·弗洛美》(Ethan Frome, 1911)
從2003年到2006年， 我們一群喜好翻譯的朋友，在信件和Simon University 網誌上做過「大戰三百回合的討論」
2007/7/31早上，讀著名語言學家呂叔湘早年翻譯的《伊坦·弗洛美》（Ethan Frome, 1911 ；我讀的是北京人民文學出版社2002年英中對照版 )，有一句的翻譯讓我考慮或許該選它做學習的對象。
伊迪絲‧華頓 (Edith Wharton, 1862-1937)
--- The Expatriates
Henry James, Edith Wharton, Henry Adams, Gertrude Stein
"每一部偉大的小說，首先必須有深厚的道德觀，然後用古典主義的統一和簡潔明快的手法發展起來。"作者必須"處處記得他的職責不在設想需要什麼樣的 環境才能塑造他的人物，而是要設想像他寫出來的那樣的人物，會怎樣利用環境。"這地基本上是亨利‧詹姆斯的觀點，可是話卻是他的密友伊迪絲‧華頓說的。她 和詹姆斯一樣，覺得對美國非常隔闔，和丈夫離婚後，她便一直住在法國。她也和詹姆斯一樣，大體上講，喜歡描寫上流社會裏的人物〔除開《伊坦‧弗洛美》(Ethan Frome, 1911)和《夏》(Summer, 1917)二書〕。兩人描寫的都是個人與社會組織之間的緊張狀態。兩人都不以為社會組織是理想的：詹姆斯，一如我們所看到的，以個人的形象從美國輸入他的 理想。儘管如此，他的人物對他那個社會的道德法律，無論怎樣專橫或不愜人意，還是奉行不誤。毫無疑問，那些條例還在發生作用。相形之下，伊迪絲‧華頓的社 會卻在崩潰之中。社會壓力縱然存在，也只限於下層社會，而且是不平衡的。她筆下的主人公都是一些忿忿不平的人，然而又無力解決不平事。
伊迪絲‧華頓從來沒有能夠像詹姆斯那樣超然。如果說詹姆斯屬於任何社會，那就是紐約華盛頓廣場的社會，然而亨利所描繪的詹姆斯一家，卻是既屬於任何地方， 也不屬於任何地方。而伊迪絲‧華頓，由於教養，則的的確確是紐約舊社會中的一員。她在那個社會裏出生長大，有一兩個季節在紐波特避暑跳舞之後，就成了紐約 舊社會中的一個女主人。她是一個極其聰慧的女郎，喜歡文學，覺得她那個社會狹隘得難以讓人忍受，而又俗不可耐，它的標準是消極的，雖然十分勢利。而有錢的 新的貴族階級一出現，伊迪絲‧華頓的世界就垮臺了。出身名門望族不無受到重視，但關係不大；更重要的是要有錢，錢可以使那些暴發戶在第五街興建華廈。她對 紐約時髦的上層社會的觀感，可借用另外一個人在別的地方所說的話作為總結："它不如過去好，更重要的是，它從來就沒有好過"。作為一個善感而孤獨的孩子， 她不喜歡嚴謹的教養，因為那種教養漠視她急於探索的創造活動。另一方面，代替舊社會的新貴族社會比原先那個更壞。不論怎樣說，像她那樣的人，總是不合時宜 的。
伊迪絲．華頓就在這個不大滿意的基礎上，根據自己收集的素材，寫了不少好小說。她獨具慧眼，能夠看到社會上荒唐的事情，對於社會變革的受害者寄以同情。在 《伊坦‧弗洛美》裏，她寫的不是紐約社會，而是新英格蘭農莊上的空虛生活，描繪了一幅震撼人心的圖畫，說明人類無可奈何的處境。那些以紐約為背景的小說－ 我們只舉其中三部：《快樂之家》(The House of Mirth, 1905)，《鄉土風俗》(The Custom of the Country, 1913)和《搭了架子的哈德遜河》(Hudson River Bracketed, 1928) 使作者的特殊知識令人信服地得到發揮。《快樂之家》中的莉莉‧巴特，雖然放肆而輕挑，到底是個誠實人，在虛偽的社會裏，就要吃苦了。《鄉土風俗》中的拉爾夫‧馬維爾也一敗塗地：
不過伊迪絲‧華頓，一如德萊塞，很少為難讀者，頂多使他傷心一下，即使在這一方面，也往往沒有德萊塞徹底。莉莉的下場一點都不悲慘；拉爾夫也一樣──作者 好像有點不耐煩拉爾夫，就像她不耐煩勞倫斯‧塞爾登一樣，塞爾登是莉莉．巴特的無所作為的朋友。伊迪絲‧華頓的作品裏沒有大衝突，新社會輕而易舉地就把舊 社會趕走了，個人遭受失敗，一半由於自己的缺點，一半由於社會壓力。她的小說裏沒有充分發展的衝突，這在晚期作品中更加突出。在《搭了架子的哈德遜河》 裏，她好像在搜索一個並不存在的標準。男主人公萬斯‧韋斯頓是一個來自伊利諾州猶夫里亞鎮的年輕作家。作者把猶夫里亞鎮寫得很潦草，好像是從辛克萊‧路易 斯那裏借來的(萬斯的父親和巴比特一樣，經營的也是房地產生意)。這樣說來，標準如果不在漫畫化了的猶夫里亞，究竟在哪 裡? 最初看起來，標準似乎在哈德遜河上的老家裏。"那所可笑的房子"，對於萬斯而言，"是他過去的化身"：它"對他是長期努力的標誌，是沙德教堂，是巴特農神 殿，是金字塔。"但後來這所房子對於萬斯沒有影響了，他忙於過紐約的富足生活，失敗了，很想回到舊日所愛的詩歌(伊迪絲‧華頓出版過兩本詩集)中去，但又 不知自己的處境如何──到了故事結束時，除了一點才能感以外一無所有。伊迪絲‧華頓在這裏暗示，對於她們那一代的人，什麼都沒有了，甚至連紐約的文壇都特 別沒有味道。到了一九二八年，連暴發戶本身幾乎都已消失了，住著"土著"的華盛頓廣場甚至人們都不記得了：在《搭了架子的哈德遜河》裏，有個市區遊覽向導 用擴聲筒這樣喊道：
和亨利‧詹姆斯一樣，伊迪絲‧華頓也寫國際題材，不過效果沒有他好。例如在《鄉土風俗》裏，來自美國中西部的昂汀‧斯普拉格，嫁給一個法國貴族，這個本來 以出現一幕很有看頭的婚姻，讓昂汀討厭的性格削弱了，她和什麼人都不能深交，因之她丈夫的道德準則對於讀者也就無關緊要了。我們可以說伊迪絲‧華頓是"大 部分人"的亨利‧詹姆斯：類似的預想，類似的題材，只是華頓比詹姆斯處理得更明快淺顯。把她的長短篇小說拿來和詹姆斯的比較，可以幫助我們確定二人的功 力，她的不可忽視的才華，比起他來，就是小巫見大巫了。這也可以幫助我們瞭解二人對於文學王國的探索，說是王國一點都不錯：因為他們都有高超的行為標準， 他們的辭彙，一如艾米莉‧狄更生的辭彙，也有了高雅的情調。詹姆斯筆下的米莉‧塞爾是個公主，伊迪絲‧華頓則談到"王座"。但是使用這些字樣的動機是莊嚴 肅穆而非趨炎附勢，也許他們想用以表達他們的情操的那樣 乾淨澄澈的詞藻並不存在。
August 13, 1937OBITUARY
Edith Wharton, 75, Is Dead in France
Novelist Wrote 'Ethan Frome,' 'The Age of Innocence' and 36 Other Books
Won 1920 Pulitzer Prize
Chronicler of Inner Circle of New York Society, in Which She Had Been Reared
Special Cable to The New York Times
The New York Times Photo Archives
|Edith Wharton |
She had been in fairly good health until she suffered an apoplectic stroke early yesterday morning and did not recover consciousness. She died at 5:30 P.M., but her death was not known in Paris. At her bedside was her friend, Mrs. Royal Tyler.
Many of her friends will drive tomorrow to the villa, where the body is lying in state. Among them will be Edward Tuck, the philanthropist; Mrs. Walter Gay Wells and American and French officials.
Funeral of Author Today
Saint Brice Sous Foret, France, Aug. 12 (AP).--Edith Wharton will be buried in the Protestant cemetery at Versailles tomorrow. Representatives of the French War Veterans Association of Saint Brice will accompany the coffin, honoring her for her war work for France.
She is survived by a niece, Mrs. Max Ferrard, wife of a noted historian.
Published Thirty-eight Books
Edith Wharton was the child as well as the author of the Age of Innocence. In her seventy-five years of life she published thirty-eight books, including that great love story, "Ethan Frome." But her reputation rested mostly upon her achievement as the chronicler of Fifth Avenue, when the brownstone front hid wealth and dignity at its ease upon the antimacassar-covered plush chairs of the Brown Decade.
As a child she lived within the inner circle of New York society that always thought of itself as spelled with a capital S. In her ancestry was a long succession of important names. The Schermerhorns, the Joneses, Pendletons, Stevenses, Ledyards, Rhinelanders and Gallatins, who had led the social life of New York before Mrs. Astor's horse was a symbol, before Commodore from Staten Island, or men with strange new names from the West had descended on the town. Her own father, although not overly rich, was, nevertheless, able to live, as she said, "a life of leisure and amiable hospitality."
Besides Fifth Avenue, there was Newport. Beyond that was only Europe. When little Edith walked on the Avenue she passed nothing but brownstone and the cow pasture of the Misses Kennedy. When she went on Bailey's Beach she shielded her fair skin from the sun with a black veil. When she went to Europe it was an escape from the crudities of American society--even that with a capital S. Innocence was the life of her childhood and it was the stuff of her better books.
Much Abroad as Child
Edith Wharton was born Edith Newbold Jones on Jan. 24, 1862. Her father was George Frederick Jones; her mother was the former Lucretia Stevens Rhinelander, and back of each were Colonial and Revolutionary ancestors. When she was 4 the family went abroad in pursuit of culture, health and economy, for her father's inherited funds had not increased during the Civil War that was just ended.
Her early impressions were the international--New York and Newport, Rome, Paris and Madrid. Added to this was a vivid imagination, which found outlet in story telling even before she could read. In keeping with the sheltered life of the time, she was never sent to school, but was taught at home. She began writing short stories in her early teens, but they were never about "real people." Little happened to the real people she knew; what did "happen" was generally not talked about.
It was from this background that Mrs. Wharton was to inherit the belief from which she never departed, that "any one gifted with the least creative faculty knows the absurdity of such a charge" as that of "putting flesh-and-blood people into books." Later critics were to say that in this was her greatest lack.
The young author wrote her first efforts on brown paper salvaged from parcels. She was not encouraged. "In the eyes of our provincial society," she was later to say, "authorship was still regarded as something between a black art and a form of manual labor." Each was equally despised in her social level. Her first acceptance was three poems which she sent to the editor with her calling card attached.
Wrote a Novel at 11
In her autobiography Mrs. Wharton gives a picture of her literary beginnings along with a picture of her life. Her first novel, written when she as 11, began: "'Oh, how do you do, Mrs. Brown?' said Mrs. Tompkins. 'If only I had known you were going to call I should have tidied up the drawing room.'" The little girl showed it to her mother, whose icy comment was: "Drawing rooms are always tidy."
Her first published book was a collaboration called "The Decoration of Homes." How many short stories she wrote before 1899 is not know. But she was encouraged in her writing by such friends as Egerton Winthrop and Walter Berry and somehow, while abroad, met Paul Bourget, the "chronicler of the bourgeoisie." Other mentors were William Brownell and Edward Burlingame, for many years editor of Scribner's Magazine. In her autobiography she writes: "I do not think I have ever forgotten one word of the counsels they gave me." To which a well- known critic added, "One well believes it."
But it was Henry James who was her closest friend and most worth-while advocate. She was always his respectful disciple and, although in their many meetings he disguised the severity of his judgments with his usual elaborate verbal courtesies, he managed to convey the meaning of his criticism. He remained her close friend until his death.
In 1899 Mrs. Wharton--she had been married to Edward Wharton, a Boston banker, in 1885-- published her first book: "The Greater Inclination." In this may be found two of her best short stories, , "The Pelican" and "Souls Belated." This volume did not make her a wide reputation overnight. In fact, it was not until 1905 that she gained a large public, although in the interim there had appeared these books: "The Touchstone," "Crucial Instances," "The Valley of Decision" and "The Descent of Man and Other Stories," and her flare for travel books had asserted itself in two volumes on Italy, its villas and gardens.
In 1905 she published her first of many best-sellers, "The House of Mirth." Most critics do not consider this her greatest book, but its popularity established her as a writer. This was in reality her first novel, although she had written long short stories in her other books. Its title came from the biblical assertion, "The heart of fools is in the House of Mirth," and it was a happy title for projecting, as Wilbur Cross once put it, "a group of pleasure-loving New Yorkers, mostly as dull as they are immoral, and letting them play out their drama unmolested by others."
Other novels came in rapid succession, but none attracted the attention in this country that was reserved for the book Elmer Davis once called "the last great American love story"--"Ethan Frome." Those which had gone between were "Madame de Treymes," in which certain French critics detected the influence of Flaubert and Maupassant; "The Fruit of the Tree," "The Hermit and the Wild Woman" and "Artemis to Actaeon."
"Ethan Frome," which was most successfully dramatized two seasons ago, was written in 1911. In it she most successfully blended the psychological refinements she had learned from Henry James with her own inimitable ability to tell a story with a beginning and an end. One critic has said it is comparable only to the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne as a tragedy of New England life. A novelette, it is considered a masterpiece of love and frustration, and is likely to stand, despite its comparative brevity, as her most accomplished work.
Until 1906 Mrs. Wharton had divided her time between New York and her Summer home at Lenox, Mass. In that year she went to live in France, in Summer at Saint Brice and in Winter at Hyeres in Provence.
Did Relief Work in War
When the World War broke out she was in Paris and she plunged at once into relief work, opening a room for skilled women of the quarter where she lived who were thrown out of employment by the closing of workrooms. She also fed and housed 600 Belgian refugee orphans. In recognition France awarded her the Cross of the Legion of Honor and Belgium made her a Chevalier of the Order of Leopold. Meanwhile she wrote stories and articles on the war, including "Fighting France" and "The Marne." After the war she visited Africa with General Lyautey at the invitation of the French Government, and wrote as a result "In Morocco."
"The Age of Innocence" was her next book and in terms of sales her most successful. Here she used actually the materials she had hitherto used only for background--the social life of the New York into which she had been born and in which she was bread.
Published serially here and abroad, it was widely read, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for 1920. It showed Mrs. Wharton at her best, understanding the cramped society of her youth, unaware of the world beyond it. Four years later she followed it with four novelettes published under the title of "Old New York," a constricted panorama of society in the Forties, Fifties, Sixties and Seventies respectively.
Shortly after the publication of this volume she was made an officer of the Legion of Honor. Then she returned to America, to be awarded the Gold Medal of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the first woman to be so honored. In 1924 she also became the first woman to be awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Yale University. In 1930 she was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Four years later she was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Since that time she had written other books, including "Twilight Sleep," a story of fashionable life in modern New York; "The Children," a study of the children of expatriated divorcees; "Hudson River Bracketed," a study of a modern writer, and "Certain People," a collection of short stories.
But that was many years ago.
That generation which knew her best for "The Age of Innocence" flocked to see "Ethan Frome" when it was adapted for the stage by Owen Davis and his son, Donald. Presented on Broadway with Pauline Lord, Ruth Gordon and Raymond Massey in the leading roles, the grim tragedy proved to be as good theatre as it had previously been a great book.
"Ethan Frome" was not the only one of her books to have been translated into plays in recent years. "The Age of Innocence" helped add to the luster of Katharine Cornell eight years ago, and one of her shorter pieces became "The Old Maid" of the theatre, in which Judith Anderson and Helen Menken starred in 1935.