何为《散书偶感》 -经典散文英译-中英双语赏析

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散书偶感

◎ 何为

乍一听来,“散书”的说法很费解。那天京华老友在长话中说[1],他们有些上年纪的同行,正在散书或考虑散书。他就是其中的一个。原来“散书”之谈,出自一位德高望重的世纪老人、前辈作家,大意谓[2]少年是集书的时候,老年是散书的时候。是啊,人到老年,有些事不能不考虑该如何处理了。

散书也是近年来我常常想到的问题。我的所谓藏书,实在并不足道,不过从幼时学文开始,数十年文学生涯中,相偕而来的书日益增多。现在只能将书刊杂乱地到处堆置,倘若集中起来,也是一个小小的书城[3]。

那年我的工作调到福州,搬家最苦最累的是搬书。到福州数年,“文革”期间我的书幸而未遭劫,及至下放到偏僻的闽北山区,全部书籍都随卡车装去,那真是一种磨难。两年后忽又调回省城,于是所有的书又装车回到福州。长途漫漫,车上驮着沉重的书,山一程,水一程,书上沾着山野的露水,带着青草的香味。直至数年后,那整箱整箱的书又运回上海,重返我离去的地方。全靠我家老二的强劳力和灵巧聪慧,才能保全颠沛流离中的旧书。在焚书的年代[4],保存旧书无异是一笔小财富。

这些旧书伴随我一生。在我的人生道路上相伴愈久,依恋之情也愈深。一般说来,私人藏书大致可分三类:待读又不可不读的书[5],可读可不读的书,不读的书。最后一类最简单,论斤卖掉当纸浆[6]即可。第二类最难处理,大体上总要过目一遍,常常为一本书的去留煞费踌躇。书是有感情的,总是藕断丝连地依依不舍,恨起来快刀斩乱麻统统散掉。我年轻时曾说过,书是最忠实的,只要你不离弃,它永不背叛你。啊,我的书!

说到第一类书,古典文学名著的精品以外,有许多文友们著作的签名本,也有自己喜欢的杂书,都是非保留不可的,生也有涯,将来不得而知。

散书的年纪到了。我也想有所行动,然而那些山积的旧书,倘若分门别类,分批分散出去,从包扎装箱到邮寄,如此繁杂的体力劳动,现在我是无能为力了。幸而我故纸堆里有价值的不多,姑且等一等再说。

《散书偶感》是当代著名作家何为写于2000年12月的一篇佳作。英译时略有删节。

[1]“在长话中说”译为told me over the long-distance,其中the long-distance即the long-distance phone call。

[2]“大意谓”译为something to the effect that,其中to the effect作“大意是”、“意思是”解。

[3]“也是一个小小的书城”可按“加起来也为数可观”之意译为add up to quite a number,其中add up是成语,作“加起来共计”解。

[4]“焚书的年代”可译为the age of book-burning,现译为the age of obscurantism,意思相同,obscurantism原意是“蒙昧”。

[5]“待读又不可不读的书”译为books for required reading that have not yet been read,其中required作“必须的”解。

[6]“论斤卖掉当纸浆”未按字面直译为by selling them off by the jin as paper pulp,现译为by selling them off cheap as waste paper bound for the pulp mill,其中用cheap替代by the jin,用as waste paper bound for the pulp mill替代as paper pulp,有助理解。

Random Thoughts on Giving Away Books

◎ He Wei

The idea of giving away one’s books sounds rather puzzling at first. The other day, my friend Jing Hua told me over the long-distance that some of his elderly colleagues were giving away or considering giving away the books they owned and that he himself was doing the same. The idea originated with a venerable old veteran writer, who said something to the effect that youth is the time for collecting books and old age for giving away books. Yes, getting on in years, one needs to ponder over the question of how to deal with certain things in life.

In recent years, I, too, have often turned over in my mind the question of books though, in fact, my so-called private library is not worth mentioning. Nevertheless, it has kept accumulating in the scores of years of my literary career. Now, piled up in a jumble here and there in my house, they add up to quite a large number though.

Years ago, when I was transferred to a new post in Fuzhou, the capital city of Fujian Province, the removal of my books gave me a big headache. During the several years when I was in that city, my books were lucky enough to survive the disaster of the so-called“Cultural Revolution.”But, when I was sent to do manual labour in the remote mountains of northern Fujian, all the books had to go with me by truck, which plunged me into a world of trouble. Two years later, when I was suddenly transferred back to Fuzhou, the books had to be loaded on a truck again for a long ride over mountains and rivers, exposing themselves to the dew drops of the mountain area and inhaling the aroma of green grass. It was not until many years later that the books, then packed in boxes, were at last transported back to Shanghai, the place where I had originally come from. I owe the safety of my books to the efforts of my second son, who is physically strong and bright and clever. Books that have survived the age of obscurantism are without doubt an invaluable asset.

All my old books are my life-long companions. The longer the companionship, the more profound my attachment for them. Generally speaking, there are three kinds of books in my private collection, namely, books for required reading that have not yet been read, books for optional reading and books unworthy of reading. Books of the last kind can be disposed of easily, that is, by selling them off cheap as waste paper bound for the pulp mill. The second kind of books are most difficult to handle. I generally give a glance into them before making a difficult decision on whether to keep them or not. Books are emotional and always reluctant to part from me. And sometimes, in a fit of impatience, I will even feel like resolutely doing away with them all at once. As I said in my young days, books are most faithful and will never betray you so long as you don’t abandon them. Oh, my books!

Books of the first kind consist of many autographed copies of works by my literary friends and miscellaneous favorite books of mine as well as de luxe editions of literary classics. They are to be kept intact by all means. But, as there is a limit to human life, the future of these books is unknown.

It is high time for me to give away my collected books. But it is beyond my power to do the toilsome labour of sorting out piles upon piles of books and then doing all the wrapping, packing and mailing. Fortunately, there are few things of much worth among piles of my musty old books. So I might as well take it easy.

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