Lester Lee – Chinese/English translator and freelance writer

This blog will host articles and other works authored by me in various fields – poetry, philosophy, science, history, politics, current affairs, music – and anything else which seizes my attention and imagination!

長江大河

語文影

長江大河

        古人以長江大河形容文章氣勢。氣勢不一定依賴長句,但長句自有其作用。時下文章貴乎短小精悍,長句不再時興。近日翻查舊書,偶見三數長句,氣勢磅礡如排山倒海,錄之以饗同好。

(一)

       The story of the Jews since the Dispersion is one of the epics of European history.  Driven from their natural home by the Roman capture of Jerusalem (70A.D.), and scattered by flight and trade among all the nations and to all the continents; persecuted and decimated by the adherents of the great religions – Christianity and Mohammedanism – which had been born on their scriptures and their memories; barred by the feudal system from owning land, and by the guilds from taking part in industry; shut up within congested ghettoes and narrowing pursuits, mobbed by the people and robbed by the kings; building with their finance and trade and towns and cities indispensable to civilisation; outcast and excommunicated, insulted and injured; - yet, without any political structure, without any legal compulsion to social unity, without even a common language, this wonderful people has maintained itself in body and soul, has preserved its racial and cultural integrity, has guarded with jealous love its oldest rituals and traditions, has patiently and resolutely awaited the day of its deliverance, and has emerged greater in number than ever before, renowned in every field for the contributions of its geniuses, and triumphantly restored, after two thousand years of wandering, to its ancient and unforgotten home.   What drama could rival the grandeur of these sufferings, the variety of these scenes, and the glory and justice of this fulfilment:  What fiction could match the romance of this reality?   (From Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy)

 (時宇按:筆者是幹翻譯的,但面對這篇鴻文(其中一句長達一百九十二字),躊躇再三不敢下筆,才力未逮也。下面勉強湊成幾句,只希望粗略譯出文義,當然談不上氣勢了。)

        猶太民族在大流散後的經歷波瀾壯闊,光耀歐洲史。西元七○年,羅馬帝國攻陷耶路撒冷,猶太人被逐出故土。族人倉皇逃命,亦有因職業的需要,流散到地球的每個角落。足跡所至,慘遭基督徒與伊斯蘭教徒害殺戳,而這兩大宗教,卻原來是從猶太人的教典和回憶衍生出來的。猶太人在封建制度下不能擁有土地,又被行會禁止參加工業活動,並受到帝王、群眾夾攻,只好聚居擁擠的猶太區,討些窄門活計,以辛苦積聚的資財從事城鄉文化建設。這個民族受盡宗教、社會的排擠和逼害,缺乏政治組織與社會團結的法律力量,甚至沒有共同語言,處境不堪,但竟能奇蹟地保存民族血脈靈魂,維持種族文化完整,拱衛珍愛的傳統禮俗,堅決耐心地等待民族大解放一天的來臨。猶太民族在逆境中開枝散葉,在每個領域上產大大量天才,為世界文化作出重大貢獻,並在浪跡天涯二千年後高唱凱歌,重回魂牽夢縈的故土。試問,這樣悲壯的苦難、複雜的場景、光輝合理的結局,有什麼戲劇可以比擬?如此傳奇性的史實,又有什麼虛構故事能比得上?

 (二)

       When we survey the long development of mankind from a rare hunted animal, hiding precariously in caves from the fury of wild beasts which he was incapable of killing; subsisting doubtfully on the raw fruits of the earth which he did not know how to cultivate; reinforcing real terrors by the imaginary terrors of ghosts and evil spirits and malign spells; gradually acquiring the mastery of his environment by the invention of fire, writing, weapons, and at last science;  building up a social organisation which curbed private violence and gave a measure of security to daily life; using the leisure gained by his skill, not only in idle luxury, but in the production of beauty and the unveiling of the secrets of natural law; learning gradually, though imperfectly, to view an increasing number of his neighbours as allies in the task of production rather than enemies in the attempts at mutual depredation – when we consider this long and arduous journey, it becomes intolerable to think that it may all have to be made again from the beginning owing to failure to make one step for which past developments, rightly viewed, have been a preparation.   (From Bertrand Russell, Ideas That Have Helped Mankind, Unpopular Essays)

 (時宇按:羅素這段文章只是一句,共一百九十四字,一氣呵成,清暢有力。)

 (三)

       我不敢說生命是什麼,我只能說生命像什麼。生命像東流的一江春水,他從最高處發源,冰雪是他的前身。他聚集起許多細流,合成一股有力的洪濤,向下奔注,他曲折的穿過了懸岩削壁,衝倒了層沙積土,挾捲著滾滾的沙石,快樂勇敢的流走,一路上他享樂他所遭逞的一切:有時候他遇到巉岩前阻,他憤激的奔騰了起來,怒吼著,旋著,前波後浪的起伏催逼,直到他過了,衝倒了這危崖他才心平氣和的一瀉千里。有時候也經過了細細的平沙,斜陽芳草裡,看見了夾岸紅艷的桃花,他快樂而又羞怯,靜靜的流著,低低的吟唱著,輕輕的度過這一段浪漫的行程。有時候他遇到暴風雨,這激電,這迅雷,使他心魂驚駭,疾風吹捲起他,大雨擊打他,他暫時渾濁了,擾亂了,而雨過天青,只加給他許多新生的力量。有時候他遇到了晚霞和新月,向他照耀,向他投影,清冷中帶些幽幽的溫暖:這時他只想憩息,只想睡眠,而那股前進的力量,仍催逼他向前走…..  (冰心《談生命》)

 (時宇按:冰心《談生命》寫於五十二年前,這段節錄看似四句,其實第二、三、四句可讀成一長句,共三百餘字。生命的起伏綿延都表達出來了。)

 (四)

       ……Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.”  But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking, “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger”, you middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John”, and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” – then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. ……. (From Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963)

 (時宇按:金博士這段文章裡的長句共三百一十一字,前置九個when字起首的從句,從句中又包含許多片段;主句殿後,寥寥十一字。看似頭重尾輕,讀來卻穩如磐石,文章之妙真有不可解。)

September 1, 2009 - Posted by | Word-watching 語文影

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