现代英文选评注 | Bookshops in Paris 巴黎的书店 Aldous Huxley

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本文作者阿尔德斯·赫胥黎(Aldous Huxley,1894 – 1963)为英国维多利亚朝思想家赫胥黎(T. H. Huxley)之孙,家学渊源,才气纵横,为本世纪文坛一大怪杰。论学问之渊博,文思之敏捷,当世恐罕有其匹。识者论其为才华有余,深沉不足,晚年潜心宗教,作风亦渐从绚烂归于平淡。著作极多:长篇小说有Point Counter Point, Brave New World等十一种;大半短篇小说已集于Collected Short Stories(1957);Collected Essays(1959)则为其散文选集。

本文选自1953年12月份美国Esquire杂志,原题“The Fresh of Paris”,所谈皆有关法国历史文化,读来似亲聆一文坛前辈之闲话家常也。此处所录数段,似可独立成一小品文字。

As a child, as a schoolboy, I knew only the physical appearance of Paris and the Parisians. But as my knowledge of French increased, I became aware of other, less obvious aspects of the city. By the time I was eighteen I had developed a passion for French literature. But literature implies books and books imply bookshops, and there are more bookshops to the square mile in Paris than in any other city with which I am acquainted.

  • physical appearance:物质方面的外表,指街道房屋等。Parisians:巴黎人。
  • aware of:从耳目方面觉察而知。obvious:明显。aspects:方面。我的法文程度渐渐进步,我觉察出来巴黎城还有比较少受人注意的别的种种方面。
  • passion:强烈爱好。
  • implies:关联。文学一定牵连到书本,说到文学,便不得不说到书本。to the square mile in Paris:巴黎每平方里上面书店之多,胜过我所见识过的任何城市。注意介词to的用法。

These bookshops! What an immense profusion! What a blessed cheapness! In those days there were reprints of practically everything at ninety-five centimes. And the latest novel or volume of essays cost only three francs fifty. Except for collectors’ items, the price of secondhand books was no less reasonable. In their brown calfskin, if they were of the seventeenth or eighteenth century, in paper or in mottled boards, if they had been published after 1820, they stood there in the deliciously smelly twilight, shelf above shelf, from floor to ceiling. Those dim caverns of forgotten literature, of dead philosophy and superannuated science, were earthly paradises. And when their darkness became a little oppressive, there were the open-air markets on the Quais. Half a mile of books and old engravings, with the river immediately behind and below them, and the Louvre rising majestically in the background.

  • 第一段文字甚简单,本段则于选字造句,多用功夫。
  • 一起头连用三个惊叹句:第一句呼应上段,引起“书店”正文。第二句道书店之多,英文关于“多”这一个概念,可用之字甚多,作者拈出profusion一字,则表示“触目皆是,多不胜收”,再加上形容词immense,则多之极矣。第三句说书店售价之低廉,用一形容词blessed,则有“为寒士造福”之意。
  • reprints of practically everything:几乎什么样的书都有翻印本。reprint常指已丧失版权或得原版权持有人同意后复印之书。centime和franc(法郎)皆法国货币,I franc=100 centimes。
  • collectors’ items:藏书家的(珍)品。secondhand books:旧书,(转让的书);它们的价钱和新书(包括reprints和latest novel等),一样地“合理”(reasonable)。
  • 讲起旧书,作者的兴致又提起来了。文章至此,辞藻转趋华丽,作者要把巴黎淘旧书的乐趣,形诸笔墨,非尽力描写,恐不足道出当年情景也。
  • 他举了两种旧书,一种是出版于十七八世纪,书皮用棕色犊皮(calfskin);另一种于1820年以后出版,书皮用软纸,或用有斑纹图案的硬纸(mottled board)。作者所以只描写书皮而不及内容者,因为淘旧书的人第一眼所注意的应该只是书的外表。
  • 书架上一层一层(shelf)地站满了旧书,下起地板,上迄天花板。书店内部情形怎么样呢?作者只用三个字来描写:deliciously smelly twilight。幽暗之中,有异香焉。此处笔墨所以能如此经济,全仗用了twilight(朦胧)这样一个名词;只说“幽暗”,而不说“幽暗的地方”,这是文章功力所在,善文者当能深体此意。smelly应该是“臭”,(《综合英汉大辞典》即直称之为“臭”),至少是有怪味,然而前面加了个副词deliciously,只好说是“异香神怡”了。
  • 次句用两个字dim cavern(幽暗的洞穴),又是说书店里的光线不佳。那样的环境里藏着文学、哲学、科学三科的旧书;作者用了三个形容词forgotten, dead, superannuated(逾龄的,老朽的),三字除末字稍僻外,首两字均普通,意义均相仿,然在此处用来,似乎个个皆见功夫。被人遗忘了的文学书,丧失了生命的哲学书,老朽无用的科学书。读者细心体会,当可觉得作者选用这三个字的苦心也。earthly paradise:人间天堂。
  • their darkness之their指caverns。oppressive:闷人,使人觉得气闷。open-air:露天的。Quai(法文):码头,指巴黎塞纳(Seine)河畔的码头。
  • engravings:版画(石印、木刻等)。Louvre:卢浮宫,巴黎著名博物院。majestically:巍然。河畔书摊林立,旧书古书,连绵不绝,长达半里;塞纳河即紧靠其后,自下流过;稍远而雄峙于后方者,则Louvre博物院是也。形容博物院的形势,不说standing,而说rising,文章即更见活泼,本来死的静的东西,被作者说成活的动的了。

Then came the Deluge. When the tide of blood had withdrawn, when, in 1919, it became possible once more to travel on the Continent, the franc was a thing of paper, worth only a fifth of its gold-based predecessor. But the bookstalls along the river, the secondhand shops around Saint-Sulpice, the huge emporium under the arcades of the Odeon, the specialists in erudition of the Boulevard Saint-Michel—they were all there, as though nothing had happened.

  • Deluge:洪水;尤指《旧约·创世纪》所记之洪水。相传法王路易十五曾有言曰:“朕死之后,洪水任其泛滥可也。”(After me, the deluge!)后法国大革命果于路易十六王朝发生。此处恐指第一次欧战而言,观第二句自明。
  • the tide of blood had withdrawn:血潮退尽。按:第一次欧战于1918年结束,1919年召开巴黎和会。
  • a fifth:五分之一。predecessor:前身,战前的法郎。gold-based:黄金本位的。
  • bookstalls:书摊。Saint-Sulpice:教堂名。emporium:市场。arcades:环廊。Odeon:巴黎有名之剧院。specialists:专家。erudition:学问,尤指博闻强记的学问。那些书店掌柜学识都很渊博。Boulevard Saint-Michel:路名,为巴黎不甚高贵的繁华区域。塞纳河畔,Saint-Sulpice教堂的四周,Odeon剧院廊下的市场,Saint-Michel大道,都是巴黎书店书摊荟萃之区,犹如谈起北平的旧书来,不得不提厂甸、东安市场、隆福寺等地也。
  • as though nothing had happened:好像没有打过仗,法郎也没有贬值一般。

Meanwhile, though the economic handicaps are daily increasing, a torrent of new volumes continues to pour from the presses of France. The bookshops are still in business, not merely in Paris, but throughout the provinces. Traveling through the United States, I have found myself in cities of fifty thousand inhabitants, where it was impossible to buy a book. In France you can buy Gide at most railway stations and Valéry practically everywhere.

  • economic handicaps:经济上的阻碍,书的成本贵了,买书的人经济力量差了。torrent:汹涌激流。presses:印刷机。此字也可转作印刷厂解,但这里如作印刷机解,似乎更生动,更可传神。经济困难虽与日俱增,但新书还是源源不断地出版。
  • still in business:照常营业。provinces:巴黎以外的各外省。
  • inhabitants:居民(人口数)。
  • Gide即André Gide(1869—1951):普通译作纪德,法国小说家、批评家。Valéry即Paul Ambroise Valéry(1871—1945),普通译作梵乐希,法国诗人、哲学家。英文惯例,作家之名即可代表其著作,故不必说“you can buy Gide’s works”。纪德和梵乐希都是所谓高级趣味(highbrow)的作家,而其作品在法国几乎可以到处购得,足见法国文风之盛,迄未稍衰焉。

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