原创翻译:龙腾网 http://www.ltaaa.com 翻译:野花你莫采 转载请注明出处

When asked to explain the significance and pleasure of the Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber, by Cao Xueqin, I’m afraid I usually flounder. How to put it to friends, students or colleagues that the tiffs, the leisurely intrigues and frustrated aspirations of a fractious bunch of adolescents constitute one of the great efforts at plumbing human experience?

当我被要求解释曹雪芹写的中国小说《红楼梦》的意义和乐趣时,我经常会感到困惑。如何向朋友、学生或同事们说明,一群脾气不好的青少年的口角、从容的密谋以及令人沮丧的抱负,构成了探索人类体验的伟大努力之一?

Yet Dream of the Red Chamber, written in the mid-18th century, is the fullest immersion one could hope for into late imperial China, the best access to the minds, hearts and habits of that period, complete in everything from cosmology to cosmetics.

然而,写于18世纪中叶的《红楼梦》却是人们所能期待的对中国帝国晚期最充分的沉浸,是接触那个时代思想、心灵和习惯的最佳途径,从宇宙学到化妆品应有尽有。



The episodic plot, sprawling over 2,500 pages in the standard Penguin translation, follows the infatuations and travails of a pubescent boy, Jia Baoyu. Baoyu is the unstudious and distracted son of a great, albeit troubled, house in Beijing. He is surrounded by a bevy of erudite and beautiful girls (relatives and maidservants), doted upon by his elderly grandmother, and terrified by his strict, pedantic father — a paragon or parody of the Confucian gentleman. In the pavilions, halls and gardens of this grand estate, allegory of and escape from the world, Baoyu struggles reluctantly towards adulthood.

翻译后的故事情节有2500多页,讲述了一个青春期男孩贾宝玉的迷恋和痛苦。宝玉是北京一所虽有些麻烦但是杰出家庭的不学无术的儿子。他被一群博学而美丽的姑娘(亲戚和婢女)包围着,被年迈的祖母宠爱,但他害怕他那严厉、迂腐的父亲,一名儒家绅士的典范。宝玉在这个宏伟庄园的亭阁、殿堂、花园里,过着童话般的与世隔绝的生活,不情愿地走向成年。



Somehow, almost deviously, through the spats, crushes and rivalries of a handful of teenagers, the great questions of the human condition are broached: what is a good life, faced with the inevitability and omnipresence of death? What are one’s obligations? How real is this life and what is it for?

不知怎么地,几乎是迂回地,通过少数青少年的争吵、破坏和对抗,提出了人类状况的重大问题:面对死亡的不可避免性和无所不在,什么是美好的生活?一个人的义务是什么?这种生活有多真实?它是为了什么?

Take the famous little scene in Chapter 22 when Baoyu is inspired to throw fallen flower petals into the stream, but is chided by his sensitive cousin, Daiyu, who remarks:

以第22章的著名小场景为例,宝玉灵感迸发,想把落下的花瓣扔进小溪,但他敏感的表妹黛玉却责备他,黛玉说:



Dream of the Red Chamber has Balzac’s panoramic view of society, the satire of arrogance and fashion of Vanity Fair, the funny, meandering mischief of Decameron. But these comparisons are inadequate to a work so monumental and so vehemently itself, the epitome of the great tradition of Chinese family fiction.

《红楼梦》有巴尔扎克的社会全景,有《名利场》中对傲慢与时尚的讽刺,有《十日谈》中滑稽的、曲折的恶作剧。但是,对这部不朽的中国家族小说来说,这些比较是不够的,它本身就是中国家族小说伟大传统的缩影。

The novel has spawned innumerable adaptations for the stage and screen, as well as dozens of sequels attempting to rescue or resolve its characters’ dilemmas and narrative arcs. It has influenced everything from the witty, cruel short stories of Eileen Chang, to the claustrophobic film, Raise the Red Lantern, and the opulent concubine-poisoners’ dramas of popular TV serials such as Empresses in the Palace.

这部小说在舞台和荧幕进行了无数的改编,还有几十部试图解决人物困境和叙事弧度的续集。它影响了张爱玲诙谐、无情的短篇小说、幽闭恐怖电影《大红灯笼高高挂》、以及流行电视连续剧《后宫·甄嬛传》等在内的许多事物。

Above all, reading (or prescribing) the novel feels like the antidote to facile stereotyping of Chinese culture. All the core topics are present: family dynamics; Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism; face and status; strategy and emotion. But all of these are played out for a readership which still regarded the world outside China as a curiosity, and was under no pressure to defend or justify its culture. It is a work of the Qing Dynasty, by a Qing author, for Qing readers; and it is the modern reader’s good fortune just to be allowed in.

最重要的是,阅读这部小说感觉就像是消除中国文化刻板印象的解药。所有的核心主题都呈现出来:家庭动力学;儒释道;面子与地位;策略与情感。但是,所有这些都是为了那些仍然把中国以外的世界视为一种好奇,没有压力去捍卫或证明自己文化的读者。这是清代一位作家为清代读者创作的一部作品,允许现代读者进入作品中去,是现代读者的幸运。

Whether you read it straight through or dip in from time to time, this work affords entry to one of the great fictional universes.

无论你是直接阅读完还是不时地深入阅读,这部作品都让你进入一个伟大的小说世界。

Author
Josh Stenberg
Lecturer in Chinese Studies, University of Sydney

作者
Josh Stenberg
悉尼大学中国研究讲师