邹韬奋《什么事不可能》 -经典散文英译-中英双语赏析

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什么事不可能(1)

邹韬奋

驾雾腾云,在从前哪一个人不视为“封神传”里的“瞎三话四”(2)?不但在中国,就是在西洋,他们原来也有一句俗谚,遇着你说出不可能的事情,往往揶揄地说道:“你不如尝试去飞上天吧。”“You might just as well try to fly.”可见他们原来也是把“飞”视为不可能的事情。

我们试一考这件由不可能而变为可能的事情所经过的大略情形,便觉得很饶趣味(3)。在西洋一百二十年前已经有人在那里实验这件“瞎三话四”的事情,他们看见鸟有翼膀能飞,所以实验的时候,总在那里用尽心力于构造人工的翼膀。最初不但在实验方面屡次失败,而且被人笑为发痴,这是所谓“意中事”。这几个“痴子”里面有一位叫做凯雷(George Cayley),在一八〇九年做一篇文章登在一家杂志上,大发挥他的精密的“痴想”(4),据说现在飞机里的许多机件和原理,没有一件不被他猜着的,所以现在说起飞机的发明家,有许多人推他做“鼻祖”。他原是英国一位有名的哲学家,不知怎地会跳出哲学的范围,想起什么飞上天的把戏来。他不但实行“痴想”,而且就在发表该文的第二年,竟造了一个飞机实验起来,起先上面没有什么原动机(Motor),后来竟给他配上了一个原动机。但是他发明的飞机在实验的时候,非但飞不起来,而且炸毁得一塌糊涂,算是失败了。但是从此以后,便唤起若干人的注意,有的研究机件,有的研究机身,慢慢地比以前较有端倪,不可能的程度已渐渐减少。不过这还是极少数“痴子”的信心,一般人还是嗤之以鼻。

许多“痴子”虽仍在那里继续的研究来,研究去,但是总飞不起来,一点距离都未曾飞过。一直到了一八九六年,有位美国物理学家叫蓝格雷(Samuel Pierpont Langley)造了一个飞机,才算第一次有些效验,不过这个飞机还不能在空中飞,不过在波陀马克河(Potomac River)旁,沿着地飞了半英里左右的距离。同时有一位由学徒出身的在美国的英国发明家(5),叫做麦克沁(Hiram Maxim),和还有一位发明家叫做爱德(N.C.Ader),也在那里“痴干”,改良了许多地方,但弄来弄去,还是飞不起来。后来爱德也在一八九六年总算造成一个飞机,能稍微离开地面飞过三百五十码的距离。同时在德国柏林也有一位工程师名叫李令索(Otto Lilienthal)对飞机的研究也有些成绩,他实验了二千次,最后一次由十七米之高跌下来,把头颈跌断(6),做了科学界的“烈士”。

以上所说的实验,都还不够真正说得上一个“飞”字,可是没有先锋队的牺牲,真正的“飞”当然也无从达到。到了一九〇三年的十二月十七日,美国有一位叫赖奥维(Orville Wright)和他的弟弟赖威柏(Wilbur Wright),他们不过受过中等教育,后来做机匠,不过做做寻常的脚踏车,竟对于飞机大饶兴趣,尽心研究,一跃而为发明家,根据他们研究所得,算是第一次乘着飞机飞了起来(7),但是只飞了二百六十米的距离。一九二七年美国人林德白(Charles A.Lindbergh)第一次一口气从美国纽约飞越大西洋而达法国巴黎,三十二小时飞过三千六百三十三哩(即一万余中国里),距今不到两年。

赖奥维一九〇三年的飞机也还不是一蹴而成的,他们弟兄在一九〇〇年最初制成的飞机格式,原是想照放纸鸢办法,上面本预备坐一个人,但因为气力不足,只得让飞机独自飞翔,他们弟兄在一九〇一年实验用的第二个飞机,要载人上飞还是不行,若在地上沿地拖着飞,可以一口气飞二十七哩,在水面可一口气驶三百呎,他们弟兄在一九〇三年,替航空事业开新纪元用的飞机,上面装有汽油原动机,其构造比之现在的飞机当然粗率得很,在当时则已经是空前的完备(该机现在英国伦敦科学博物院陈列)。赖威柏已于一九一二年逝世,赖奥维尚健在,已经五十八岁了。自他成功以后,从前似乎不可能的“飞”,已成为无疑的可能的事情了。

天下事只要人努力去干,什么事不可能?但是我们对此问题至少还有下列两个更为明确的要点。

(一)事业愈大则困难亦愈甚,抵抗困难的时期也随之俱长,有的尽我们的一生尚不能目见其成者,我们若能尽其中一段的工夫,替后人开辟一段道路,或长或短,即是贡献。有所成功以备后人参考,固是贡献;即因尝试而失败(8),使后人有所借镜,亦是贡献。所以能向前努力者,无论成败(9),都有贡献。最无丝毫贡献(10)者是不干,怕失败而不敢干,或半途遇着困难即不愿干。

(二)林德白可以三十二小时一直不停的飞渡万余里,在最初发明者横弄竖弄,竟飞不起来,至赖奥维算是成功了,也不过飞渡二百六十米。可见从不可能达到可能的境域,不是由这一点到那一点的那样简单。必须经过许多麻烦,经过许多失败,经过许多时间,经过许多筹划,经过许多手续,经过许多改进,若是性急朋友,老早丢了哪有成功的可能?所以昔贤告诉我们说“欲速则不达”(11)。

Nothing Is Impossible to a Willing Mind

Zou Taofen

Nobody in the past ever believed that man could fly in the air like“gods and spirits”in classical Chinese mythology.In the West,people would say mockingly to anyone attempting the impossible,“You might just as well try to fly.”Evidently,they also disbelieved that man was capable of“flying”.

It is very interesting to make a brief study of how man changed the impossible into the possible in the matter of flying.Westerners began to make aviation experiments as early as 120 years ago.Ascribing a bird’s flight to its wings,they concentrated their efforts on making artificial wings for man.But they failed again and again in the attempt and,as was to be expected,ended up as targets of public ridicule.Among them was a man named George Cayley,who in 1809 published an article in a journal to enlarge on his dream,reportedly foreseeing a modern aircraft in terms of its mechanism and theories.He is,therefore,today popularly known as the father of aviation.Originally a famous philosopher in England,he later suddenly quit his special field to pursue his dream of flight.A year afterwards,he went so far as to build a craft for experiment,which he later fitted with a motor.Unfortunately,instead of rising into the air,it was completely wrecked by explosion.Nevertheless,his failed venture attracted the attention of some followers.They started researches on the working parts of an aircraft and its fuselage,indicating man’s slow but steady progress towards making the impossible possible.Yet the handful of“dreamers”of those days were subjected to jeers and laughter.

Many“dreamers”persisted in the flight research without getting their flying machines off the ground.It was not until 1896 that a little relevant progress was made for the first time in history by an American physicist named Samuel Pierpont Langley.However,instead of rising into the air,his flying model barely moved close to the ground along the Potomac River for only about half a mile.Meanwhile,an English apprentice- turned- inventor in the USA named Hiram Maxim and another inventor by the name of N.C.Ader were also obsessed with aerial experimentation and made quite a few relevant modifications.But,in spite of their repeated tries,they never got their models to take off.However,Ader finally built in 1896 a craft that was capable of flying at a low altitude over a distance of 350 meters.Then,in Berlin,Germany,an engineer named Otto Lilienthal also got some good results in aviation research.He made as many as 2,000 experiments,but,unfortunately,he died later when he fell from a height of 17 meters,breaking his spine.

Without the above-mentioned early trailblazers,there would be no human flight to speak of today.At the turn of the century,an American named Orville Wright and his brother Wilbur,enamored of the flying machine,made a name for themselves overnight as aviation inventors.They were originally two bicycle mechanics with only high school education.On December 17,1903,they made the world’s first flight in an engined airplane,covering a distance of no more than 260 metres.Less than two years ago,in 1927,an American named Charles A.Lindbergh made the first transatlantic solo nonstop flight from New York to Paris,covering a distance of 3,633 miles in 32 hours.

Orville’s 1903 plane was something he accomplished after going through numerous setbacks.In 1900,the Wright brothers made their first glider patterned after a paper kite,but it lacked the power to carry a person.Their second glider,made in 1901,also failed,but the manned machine could move nonstop for 27 miles on the ground,and for 300 feet on the surface of water.However,their airplane of 1903,fitted with a gasoline engine,was a success ushering in a new era for aeronautics.Compared with today’s plane,it was of course very crude,but regarded then as a perfect model.And it is now on exhibition at the Science Museum in London,England.Wilbur died in 1912.Orville is now 58.Their success indicates that human flying,impossible in the past,has now become perfectly possible.

Nothing is impossible to a willing mind.Now,however,I would like to call your attention to two vital points as follows:

1.The greater an undertaking,the more difficult it is,and the longer it will take to accomplish it.Sometimes it can’t be accomplished even after a lifetime of effort.But it will nevertheless be a contribution of ours if we can devote part of our lifetime to opening up a way,long or short,for the future generations.The same is true if what little we have done serves as a good example to them,or if our fruitless efforts serve as a useful lesson to them.Therefore,succeed or fail,one is considered to have made a contribution so long as he has tried his utmost.Those who refuse to act,those who are afraid to act for fear of failure and those who stop half way in the face of obstacles will have nothing to their credit at all.

2.Before Lindberg made the solo nonstop transatlantic flight of 32 hours,early aviation experimenters had failed again and again to get their flying models off the ground until the Wright brothers succeeded in building a piloted airplane that could fly over a distance of no more than 260 meters.It is thus clear that changing the impossible into the possible is no simple or easy matter.To attain it,you need to endure numerous troubles and frustrations.You need to take much time,do a lot of planning,go through countless procedures and carry out many improvements.And you’ll never make it unless you show the utmost patience.As the ancient Chinese saying goes,“Haste does not bring success.”

邹韬奋(1895—1944),生于福建永安,原籍江西余江,为著名进步新闻记者、政论家、出版家。去世后,根据他的“遗嘱”,中国共产党追认他为正式党员。《什么事不可能》是他写于1929年6月9日的一篇随笔,现选自1995年由三联书店出版的《韬奋文集》(共三册)。

注释

(1) 题目“什么事不可能”译为Nothing Is Impossible to a Willing Mind,是按原文后面“只要人努力去干,什么事不可能”一语译的。Nothing is impossible to a willing mind(意同Where there’s a will,there’s a way)本是英语谚语,因酷似原文,故不妨借用之。

(2)文章第一句“驾雾腾云,在从前哪一个人不视为‘封神传’里的‘瞎三话四’”不宜逐字直译。现用意译法处理:Nobody in the past ever believed that man could fly in the air like“gods and spirits”in classical Chinese my- thology。《封神传》本可译为Canonization of the Gods,也避而不用,改用classical Chinese mythology (中国古代神话)表达,便于外国读者领会。

(3)“我们试一考这件由不可能而变为可能的事情所经过的大略情形,便觉得很饶趣味”译为It is very interesting to make a brief study of how man changed the impossible into the possible in the matter of flying,其中把“试一考……的大略情形”译为to make a brief study of …;把“由不可能而变为可能的事情”译为changed the impossible into the possible in the matter of flying,其中in the matter of是成语,作“在……方面”、“就……而论”解。

(4)“大发挥他的精密的‘痴想’”译为to enlarge on his dream,其中to enlarge on的意思是“细说”,可概括“大发挥”和“精密”的含义。

(5)“一位由学徒出身的在美国的英国发明家”译为an English apprentice-turned-inventor in the USA,其中turned是不及物动词的过去分词,用作形容词。

(6)“把头颈跌断”据查应为“把脊椎跌断”,故译breaking his spine。

(7)“第一次乘着飞机飞了起来”可按“第一次在世界上乘机动飞机飞了起来”译为made the world’s first flight in an engined airplane或made the first flight in human history in a power-driven airplane。

(8)“尝试而失败”译为fruitless efforts,也可译为failed ventures、failed endeavors、failed tries等。

(9)“无论成败”译为succeed or fail,也可译为succeed or not,在句中作状语。

(10)“最无丝毫贡献”本可译为will be the last to make a contribution,现为了避免重复contribution一词,改译will have nothing to their credit at all,其中成语to one’s credit的意思是“为……带来荣誉”(to bring honor to…)。

(11)“欲速则不达”是中国谚语,可直译为Haste does not bring success,如借用英国谚语More haste,less speed并非不可,但言出我国“昔贤”,还是直译可取,以照顾民族色彩。

未经允许不得转载:帕布莉卡 » 邹韬奋《什么事不可能》 -经典散文英译-中英双语赏析

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