现代英文选评注 | A Special Occasion 两小 Joyce Cary

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本文作者乔伊斯·卡里(Joyce Cary,1888—1957)生于爱尔兰,祖先原为英人,牛津大学出身,第一次大战时曾在非洲从军作战。他写作兴趣发生甚早,苦练不辍,然难有惬意之作,其第一本书易稿多次,于1930年始出版。迄今成书十余种,以Mister Johnson(1939)及三部曲Herself Surprised(1941),To Be a Pilgrim(1942),The Horse’s Mouth(1944)为最著名。卡里在今日已被举世公认为英国大小说家。

卡里观察深刻,对人生有强烈的爱好,故最善描写人物。其文字洗炼有力,要言不烦,奇思妙想,络绎而来,生动活泼,逸趣横生,然而不夸张,不以辞害意,层次井然,语语恰到好处。苟非曾经苦功锻炼,实不克臻此。

本文原刊《哈柏杂志》(Harper’s Magazine, Oct. 1951),现从《哈柏杂志佳作选》(Harper’s Magazine Reader,1953年美国小斗鸡丛书版)录出。全文故事甚简单,且可说并无深意,然而其摹状人物,生动有致,若文学本为人生写照,则作者亦可谓善尽其使命矣。

The nursery doors opened and Nurse’s voice said in the sugary tone which she used to little girl guests, “Here you are, darling, and Tommy will show you all his toys.” A little brown-haired girl in a silk party frock, sticking out all around her legs like a lampshade, came in at the door, stopped, and stared at her host. Tom, a dark little boy, aged five, also in a party suit, blue linen knickers, and a silk shirt, stared back at the girl. Nurse had gone into the night nursery, next door, on her private affairs.

  • 故事的开头是一个小女孩去拜访一个小男孩子;但作者笔下多描写,少说明,他的目的不仅是讲故事,而且更要使读者“如见其人,如闻其声”。
  • Nurse是那男孩子的保姆。nursery:育儿室,供小孩与保姆应用的房间。本段末句另有night nursery两字,可见那家人家有两间育儿室,一间供儿童游戏之用,一间是儿童的卧室。
  • 第一句“育儿室的门打开了”,谁打开的呢?该是保姆开了门,把那小女孩子送进来的。保姆对小女客们说话,总是用(used)一种甜蜜的音调(sugary tone)。party frock:赴宴出客时所穿的外衣。外衣下幅是裙子,想必浆得很挺,向四外伸张(sticking out),如同灯罩一般。把裙子比作灯罩,是作者巧思,亦是文章情趣所在。
  • suit:成套的西装。linen:麻布。knickers(或作knicker-bockers):一种小脚管的肥大短裤,短灯笼裤。
  • on her private affairs:料理自己的私事去了。

Tom, having stared at the girl for a long time as one would study a curiosity, rare and valuable, but extremely surprising, put his feet together, made three jumps forward and said, “Hullo.”

The little girl turned her head over one shoulder and slowly revolved on one heel, as if trying to examine the back of her own frock. She then stooped suddenly, brushed the hem with her hand, and said, “Hullo.”

  • study:端详,仔细地看。前有would,表示虚拟语气(好像是一个人看一件宝贝似的)。curiosity在这里是普通名词不是抽象名词,解作“奇珍异宝”。后随三个形容词:rare, valuable和surprising。普通学生作文总把形容词放在名词之前,然有时形容词放在名词之后,句法更易开展。请参阅前篇The Duck一文末句中“…that life, mysterious, fruitful, beautiful…”形容词的位置。
  • Tom是主语,它的动词是put(把双脚并起),made,said三字。
  • 双方瞪目而视者良久,小男孩跳了三步,上前迎候,小女孩羞答答地回礼。作者不用bashful这一类的字,而女孩娇羞之状可掬。她头向后转,以一只脚跟为支点,全身慢慢地转(revolved),好像要转身过去,仔细看看她身后的衣服似的。然后她突然俯下身去,手擦着衣服的边(hem),说声:哈罗。

Tom made another jump, turned round, pointed out of the window, and said in a loud voice something like “twanky tweedle.” Both knew that neither the gesture nor the phrase was meant to convey a meaning. They simply expressed the fact that for Tom this was an important and exciting, a very special occasion.

  • twanky tweedle两字没有意义,是小孩嘴里随便发出的声音。gesture:姿势;即指手指窗外这一姿势。convey:表达。他做出这种姿势,说出这两个字来,其用意(was meant)并不要表达什么意义。
  • They=the gesture and the phrase。
  • occasion:时机,场合,事件。小客人来拜会,是一桩重要的、动人的、很特殊的事件(点明题意)。前面说句法如求便于开展,可将形容词放在名词之后;这里为求结束稳当,收煞有力,还是把名词放在形容词之后。

The little girl took a step forward, caught her frock in both hands as if about to make a curtsy, rose upon her toes, and said in a prim voice, “I beg your pardon.”

They both gazed at each other for some minutes with sparkling eyes. Neither smiled, but it seemed that both were about to smile.

  • curtsy:妇人欠身屈膝之礼。rose upon her toes:踮了脚身体伸直起来。prim:矜持,拘谨。I beg your pardon:对不起。(这句普通客套话,“你说什么,我没有听懂”。)
  • gaze亦是“凝视”。stare只是“瞠目”或“瞪目”而视,表情比较呆板;gaze则显得更用心,或更有意,更露出欣羡赞赏之情。对人stare容易引起人家见怪,gaze则不致引起礼貌问题。sparkling eyes:光亮的眼睛。

Tom then gave another incomprehensible shout, ran round the table, sat down on the floor and began to play with a clockwork engine on a circular track. The little girl climbed on a tricycle and pedaled round the floor. “I can ride your bike,” she said.

Tom paid no attention. He was trying how fast the engine could go without falling off the track.

  • incomprehensible:大家听不懂的,不可思议的。shout:乱嚷。another和前面的“twanky tweedle”相呼应。
  • clockwork:发条(用发条开动的)。engine:火车头。circular track:环形轨道。
  • tricycle:三轮脚踏车。pedaled:脚踏,蹬。bike原是bicycle的俗称,就本文看来,tricycle因为形状像bicycle,亦可简称作bike的。
  • 女孩子踩脚踏车玩儿,男孩子不去理她,只顾玩他的小火车。(这种不理睬人独行其是的态度,自是男孩儿的本色。)他在试验:火车头能快到什么程度,同时不至于跌出轨道外面去。

The little girl took a picture book, sat down under the table with her back to Tom, and slowly, carefully, examined each page. “It’s got a crooked wheel,” Tom said, “that’s what.” The little girl made no answer. She was staring at the book with round eyes and a small pursed mouth—the expression of a nervous child at the zoo when the lions are just going to roar. Slowly and carefully she turned the next page. As it opened, her eyes became larger, her mouth more tightly pursed, as if she expected some creature to jump out at her.

  • 女孩子拿起图画书来看,男孩子还在玩他的小火车。crooked wheel:轮子扭曲了,所以车子老是跌出来。
  • pursed mouth:小嘴收缩起来。expression:表情;同位语,用以说明前面的round eyes and a small pursed mouth。这种瞪眼撅嘴的样子就像是一个胆怯的(nervous)小孩子,在动物园(zoo)里,看见狮子快要张口吼叫的时候,那种既兴奋又恐惧的表情。
  • As it opened:翻到次一页的时候。tightly:紧。

“Tom.” Nurse, having completed her private business, came bustling in. “Tom, you naughty boy, is this the way you entertain your guests? Poor little Jenny, all by herself under the table.” The nurse was plump and middle-aged, an old-fashioned nanny.

“She’s not by herself,” Tom said.

  • bustling:匆匆忙忙的。entertain:招待。“你是这样子招待客人的吗?”you entertain your guests是定语从句,其连接词(该是in which两字)通常都是省略的。
  • all by herself:独自一个,没人陪伴。
  • plump:肥胖。nanny=nurse。
  • 故事进入此段,另开一局面。若无保姆的一句话,不会惹起下面的一场风波。又请注意:女孩子名叫Jenny,到此段始点出。

“Oh, Tom, that really is naughty of you. Where are all your nice manners? Get up, my dear, and play with her like a good boy.”

“I am playing with her,” Tom said, in a surly tone, and he gave Nurse a sidelong glance of anger.

  • that is really naughty of you:你真太淘气了。注意“形容词(naughty)+ of +人(you)”这一类的用法。
  • manners:礼貌。good boy:乖孩子。
  • surly:恚恨粗鲁之状。a sidelong glance:斜视一下。

“Now Tom, get up when I ask you.” She stooped, took Tom by the arm, and lifted him up. “Come now, you must be polite, after you’ve asked her yourself and pestered for her all the week.”

At this public disclosure, Tom instantly lost his temper and yelled, “I didn’t—I didn’t—I won’t—I won’t.”

  • took Tom by the arm:搀他的胳膊。注意介词by的用法。
  • pestered for her:无理取闹地要她来。pester普通字典认为是及物动词,但这里用作不及物动词。
  • public disclosure:当众揭发。他闹了一个星期要那小女孩子来玩,这件事情给保姆揭发(disclose)了,使得他大失面子。女孩子为什么来的,这里补叙说明。
  • I didn’t=I didn’t ask her。
  • I won’t.=I won’t get up.或I won’t ask her.

“Then I’ll have to take poor little Jenny downstairs again to her mummy.”

“No—no—no.”

“Will you play with her then?”

“No. I hate her—I never wanted her.”

At this the little girl rose and said, in precise indignant tones, “He is naughty, isn’t he?”

  • I’ll have to:我将不得不这么做。mummy=mama。又按:此处用downstairs一字,足见育儿室是在楼上。
  • precise:咬音准确,口齿清楚的。indignant:愤慨的。
  • 客人总应该比主人多守一点规矩,女孩子自然也比男孩子生得文雅些,所以那个小女孩的言语举止处处故作老成,和男孩子的粗野不文正成一对比。

Tom flew at her, and seized her by the hair; the little girl at once uttered a loud scream, kicked him on the leg, and bit his arms. She was carried screaming to the door by Nurse, who, from there, issued sentence on Tom, “I’m going straight to your father, as soon as he comes in.” Then she went out, banging the door.

  • flew(fly的过去式):猛扑(后随介词at或upon)。seized her by the hair:抓住她的头发。注意介词by的用法。
  • uttered:发出(声音)。scream:尖声喊叫。kicked him on the leg:踢他的腿。介词又改用on了。bit(bite的过去式):咬。
  • issued:发表。sentence:(法庭之)判决。banging:砰的一声关上。

Tom ran at the door and kicked it, rushed at the engine, picked it up and flung it against the wall. Then he howled at the top of his voice for five minutes. He intended to howl all day. He was suffering from a large and complicated grievance.

  • flung(fling的过去式):猛掷。howled:号哭怪叫。at the top of his voice:声音尽量地大。intended:打算;意欲。grievance:不平之事,委屈。complicated:复杂的,不单纯的。

All at once the door opened and the little girl walked in. She had an air of immense satisfaction as if she had just done something very clever. She said in a tone demanding congratulation, “I’ve come back.”

  • immense:极大的。satisfaction:快慰,得意。
  • tone demanding congratulation:她的音调在要求别人向她道贺。她并没有要求别人来向她道贺,只是她的得意之色,溢于言表,好像谁听了她这种音调,就该向她道贺似的。她得意些什么事呢?因为她又回来了!两个小孩子一下吵架,一下又和好如初,全篇故事就在这“离”“合”之间进展。文章开头时,小女客来访,应该是两人玩在一起了,但事实上两人各人玩各人的,终至哭哭闹闹打架而散。但是分开了没有多久,两人又聚在一起了。故事乃又开一新局面。

Tom gazed at her through his tears and gave a loud sob. Then he picked up the engine, sat down by the track. But the engine fell off at the first push. He gave another sob, looked at the wheels, and bent one of them straight.

The little girl lifted her party frock behind in order not to crush it, sat down under the table, and drew the book onto her knee.

  • 上面没有讲男孩子流泪,现在却已是泪眼婆娑,隔了眼泪向来人凝视(神情如画),心中气愤难平,再高声抽泣了一下。
  • sat down by the track:靠了轨道旁坐下。
  • fell off at the first push=fell off the track at the first push:一推就跌出来了。bent…straight:用手扳直。
  • 他们两人还是各人玩各人的。女孩子怕把衣服坐坏(压皱:crush it),先把衣服后面撩了起来,又坐到桌子下面去看书。onto=to a position on。

Tom tried the engine at high speed. His face was still set in the form of anger and bitterness, but he forgot to sob. He exclaimed with surprise and pleased excitement, “It’s the lines too—where I trod on’em.”

  • at high speed:高速度(行驶)。
  • His face was still set:满脸怒容,怨愤(bitterness)之色,依然未改。set有“固定不动”之意。
  • exclaimed:喊着说。pleased excitement:心中带着喜悦的兴奋。他把火车跌翻的病源找出来了,原来轨道(lines)也出了毛病,就是在他脚踩(trod是tread的过去式)过的地方。’em即them,代表lines。男孩子的问题已经解决,小说已近尾声,再看那女孩子吧。

The little girl did not reply. Slowly, carefully, she opened the book in the middle and gazed at an elephant. Her eyes became immense, her lips minute. But suddenly, and as it were, accidentally, she gave an enormous sigh of relief, a very special happiness.

  • 女孩子还是只顾自己看书。slowly,carefully两字前面讲到她看书时已用过两次,此次三度出现,更显出前后照应。女孩子翻书用这两个字来形容,很为恰当,和男孩子的莽撞,正成对比。
  • 女孩子的表情,还是同以前一样,只是眼睛睁得更大了,嘴缩得更小了。作者只抓住眼和嘴两部分来描写,笔墨经济之至,可是效果非常生动。女孩子听见男孩子的“问题”解决了,嘴里不说什么,脸上表情依旧;可是突然的,好像又是(as it were)偶然的(“好像是”偶然的,那就并不真是偶然的了),她大大地(enormous)松了一口气,似乎心上的石头也放下了。(relief:忧虑消失后的轻松)。她这声长叹正是表示一种很特殊的快乐。happiness是同位语;special和“A Special Occasion”又前后照应。男孩子的问题已经解决,大约不致再辜负今天这个special occasion了吧?

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