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【南华早报】《三体》译者刘宇昆:不会写科幻的律师不是好翻译

【南华早报】《三体》译者刘宇昆:不会写科幻的律师不是好翻译

 

雨果奖获奖作品《三体》、《北京折叠》大家都不陌生,但你可知道这两部作品背后的男人——刘宇昆?打得了官司,写得了小说,还当得了翻译,男神还有多少事情是我们不知道的!

 

《三体》译者刘宇昆

不会写科幻的律师不是好翻译

 

【南华早报】《三体》译者刘宇昆:不会写科幻的律师不是好翻译

作者:James KIDD

译者:朱小钊

校对:朱星汉

笔记&导读:泮海伦

策划:杨婧娴

How novelist Ken Liu is bringing Chinese sci-fi to the Western world

刘宇昆——沟通中西科幻的小说家

本文选自 South China Morning Post| 取经号原创翻译

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“Trying to predict the future is a loser’s game,” Ken Liu says from his office in Massachusetts, in the United States. Just how strange this sentence sounds depends largely on which Ken Liu is talking. If it is Ken Liu the corporate lawyer, just beginning his morning’s work, you wouldn’t give the declaration much thought. If, however, you’re quizzing Ken Liu, the 40-year-old rising star of the international science-fiction scene, then a statement disparaging prediction is more intriguing, to say the least.

在美国马萨诸塞州的办公室,刘宇昆说道:“预测未来是失败者的把戏。”这句话从刘宇昆嘴里说出来似乎很奇怪,但奇怪程度主要取决于刘宇昆是以何种身份来说这番话。如果你采访的是律师刘宇坤,而这时恰逢他正准备开始一天的工作,那你听到这句话可能觉得没有什么问题。但如果你正在采访的刘宇昆,已经是一位国际科幻界冉冉升起的新星,那么这番贬低预言的话,怎么听都觉得耐人寻味。

Disparage /dɪˈspærɪdʒ/ to suggest that sb/sth is not important or valuable 贬低;轻视

 

To be fair, Liu is responding to my crude, if unavoidable, opening question: is something special happening in the universe of Chinese science fiction right now? Last year, Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem became a global bestseller and the first translated work to win the prestigious Hugo Award for best novel (the Hugos are sci-fi’s Oscars). This year, Hao Jingfang’s Folding Beijing won the Hugo for best novelette, beating none other than Stephen King to the prize. And Ken Liu had a hand in the success of both works, bringing them to international attention.

我提出了一个笼统,但在我看来很有必要的问题:如今中国科幻小说界是否将发生某种改变。而刘宇昆不过是在回答这个问题。2015年,刘宇昆翻译的刘慈欣的作品《三体》畅销全球,获得了雨果奖最佳长篇小说奖,这是中国有史以来第一座雨果奖(雨果奖是科幻界的奥斯卡奖);2016年,郝景芳凭借《北京折叠》击败最大热门斯蒂芬·金,获得雨果奖最佳中短篇小说奖。两次作品获奖背后,刘宇昆都功不可没,正是他将这两部小说推向世界。

 

Despite his protestations – “I am not an expert on Chinese science fiction. I probably know more than anyone else in the West, but that doesn’t actually mean I am an expert” – Liu is an ideal person to respond.

尽管刘宇昆声称“可能我比西方人更了解中国科幻小说,但这并不意味着我是这方面的专家”,但他的确是谈论中国科幻小说的理想人选。

 

Born in Lanzhou, Gansu province, but resident in the United States since he was 11, Liu began his writing career with short stories. His most famous work, The Paper Menagerie, won several awards, including a Hugo. Liu has since expanded his range, producing two novels – The Grace of Kings and The Wall of Storms – that mix fantasy, speculative fiction and a universe founded on Eastern and Western narrative traditions.

刘宇昆出生于甘肃兰州,11岁的时候在美国定居。在写作初期,刘宇昆主要是写短篇小说。他最著名的一部作品《手中纸,心中爱》,获得了许多奖项,其中就包括雨果奖。之后,刘宇昆拓宽了他的写作思路,创作出了《国王的恩典》和《风暴之墙》。这两部小说的背景是融合中西方叙事传统的第二世界,属于史诗奇幻的推测性小说。(注:推测性小说涵盖了科幻、奇幻、恐怖、青少年小说、架空历史等等文类/亚文类;《国王的恩典》是一部重构楚汉相争的史诗奇幻小说。这并不是架空历史或是穿越时空;更确切地说,历史的情节重点在一个有着新的人物、新的科技、新政治和文化的全新奇幻世界里被重新构思。)

 

Liu’s preferred term for the hybrid is “silkpunk”. When asked for a definition, he says it is about rebellion, about “respectfully appropriating the past and disrespectfully challenging authority”. This has its political, technological and cultural dimensions, but also literary ones. Liu says his imagination was fired by foundational Western epics such as Virgil’s Aeneid and Homer’s Odyssey.

刘宇昆将这种融合科学与奇幻的作品形容为“丝绸朋克”(silkpunk) 。当谈及这个概念的具体含义时,刘宇昆认为“丝绸朋克”的主题在于以史为鉴,反抗权威。他在用传统风格写作的同时也在对抗和挑战传统。“丝绸朋克”不仅有政治隐喻、科技和文化元素,还有浓厚的文学色彩。刘宇昆说,他的灵感来自于西方经典的史诗巨作,比如维吉尔的《埃涅阿斯紀》和荷马的《奥德赛》。

 

“I am also blessed, unlike my fellow Anglo­phone peers, with this very rich Chinese literary tradition, from the old historical romances all the way up to modern web serials,” he says. In particular, he recalls rushing home from school to eat lunch with his grandmother and listen to performances of stories such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms on the radio.

刘宇昆说:“和那些以英语为母语的朋友相比,我非常幸运能接受大量中国传统文学的熏陶,古有传奇演义,今有网络小说。”他还特别说起从前每天中午从学校跑回家和奶奶在吃午饭的时候一起听收音机里的评书,其中就包括《三国演义》。

Anglophone /ˈæŋɡləʊfəʊn/ a person who speaks English, especially in countries where English is not the only language that is spoken 讲英语的人(尤指在英语非唯一语言的国家)

 

 “What is fascinating to me is the way I view everything in terms of parallels and connections. When I read about Achilles and Odysseus in Homer’s Iliad, I can see parallels in Chinese historical romances, in the way the first emperor of the Han dynasty and his chief rival are portrayed.”

“最有趣的是我经常能发现相似的事物或是抓住事物间的联系。当我在看到荷马的作品《伊利亚特》中阿基里斯和奥德修斯这两个人物时,我会想到中国历史故事中汉朝的开国皇帝和他的敌人。”

 

One obvious consequence of Liu’s dual nationality is his more recent work translating some of China’s finest contemporary science-fiction writers into English. “When I act as a translator, I am really doing a performance for my fellow Anglophone readers in the West,” he says.

由于美籍华裔的身份,刘宇昆近期翻译了更多当代中国最杰出的一些科幻小说。他说:“作为一名译者,我的确向以英语为母语的西方读者展示了翻译的艺术。”

 

The conspicuous successes of Liu Cixin and Hao have made Ken Liu the unofficial cheerleader for Chinese science fiction on the global stage. This status will only be enhanced by the recently released Invisible Planets, an anthology of short stories compiled and edited by Liu, from some of China’s leading science-fiction authors.

随着刘慈欣和郝景芳在得奖后声名大噪,刘宇昆也成为了推动中国科幻小说走向世界的关键人物。近期出版的《看不见的星球》更是巩固了他的地位。这是一部短篇小说集,由刘宇昆翻译编辑,收录了国内几位重量级科幻作家的作品。

 

In addition to Liu Cixin and Hao (whose excellent Folding Beijing is included), there are stories by Chen Qiufan, Xia Jia, Tang Fei, Ma Boyong and Cheng Jingbo. Bookending the fiction are illuminating essays by both Lius (Ken and Cixin), Chen and Xia, exploring everything from a history of Chinese speculative writing to how the genre reflects 21st-century China itself.

这部小说选中除了有刘慈欣和郝景芳的作品(其杰出的作品《北京折叠》也收录其中),还收录了陈楸帆、夏笳、糖匪、马伯庸、程婧波等作家的作品。在选集的最后,是几篇关于中国科幻的评论文章,分别由刘慈欣、陈楸帆和夏笳撰写,介绍了预测性小说在中国的发展史以及这类文体是如何反映21世纪的中国。

(注:1、《看不见的星球》收录的短篇小说包括:   陈楸帆《鼠年》《丽江的鱼儿们》《沙嘴之花》;夏笳《百鬼夜行街》《童童的夏天》《龙马夜行》;马伯庸《寂静之城》;郝景芳《看不见的星球》《北京折叠》;糖匪《黄色故事》; 程婧波《萤火虫之墓》; 刘慈欣《圆》《赡养上帝》。

          2、选集最后收录的三篇文章:第一篇是刘慈欣的《最糟的宇宙和最好的地球》;第二篇是陈楸帆的《撕裂的一代:转型文化中的中国科幻》;第三篇是夏笳的《什么是中国科幻?》)

 

Liu’s increasingly visible sideline as a translator owes more to happenstance than design. “It was something I did originally by accident and as a fan. I was reading these very exciting stories and novels being published in China, but my fellow Anglophone fans were unable to read them.”

尽管翻译是刘宇昆的副业,但如今这一身份却愈发引人关注。不过他从事翻译更多是出于巧合。“我最初仅仅是抱着崇拜中国作品的粉丝心态而做翻译的,纯粹是机缘巧合。当时我正在阅读一些非常精彩的中文故事和小说,而那些以英语为母语的朋友却看不懂。”

 

Liu’s big break came when Chen asked Liu’s opinion of a new English translation of his story, The Fish of Lijiang. “It was very competent,” Liu recalls. “But it didn’t have what is needed in literary translation, which is to capture the voice of the writer.” Liu told Chen it would be easier to completely rewrite the translation than to fix it – which is what he did. “That little accidental favour for a friend turned into something I have done regularly.”

翻译陈楸帆的《丽江的鱼儿》对刘宇昆来说是一次重大的人生转折。陈楸帆将英文译稿发给刘宇昆,想听听他的建议。刘宇昆回忆道:“这份译稿勉强做到了忠实于原文,但并没有抓住文学翻译的精髓,没有传达出作者真实的态度。” 刘宇昆觉得与其修改,不如让他从头翻译一遍。“当时翻译只是为了帮朋友一个忙,却没想到翻译会成为我日常生活的一部分。”

Break piece of luck, esp one that leads to further success 机会; 幸运; (尤指)转运, 转机: a big/lucky break 难得的[幸运的]机会

 

Liu estimates he has translated more than 40 pieces of short fiction and four novels, including what became Liu Cixin’s Three-Body trilogy. In addition, Liu is working on a number of projects that should see the light of day over the next year: translations of Chen’s debut novel, The Waste Tide, and Baoshu’s “fan fiction” extension to The Three-Body Problem, Three-Body X.

刘宇昆估计自己已经翻译了40余部短篇小说和4部长篇小说,其中包括刘慈欣的《三体》三部曲。此外,刘宇昆正在翻译一些作品,都将在2017年陆续问世,比如陈楸帆的首部长篇小说《荒潮》以及宝树的《三体》外传——同人小说《三体X》。

(注:1、《荒潮》是一个赛博朋克文体的故事,揭幕一个全新的世界,关于电子废物和社会阶层之间的冲突;

           2、同人小说:指的是利用原有的漫画、动画、小说、影视作品中的人物角色、故事情节或背景设定等元素进行的二次创作。)

See the light of day  to begin to exist or to become publicly known about 开始存在;问世;开始为人所知

 

Liu sounds circumspect when the conversation returns to that initial question about the “sudden” popularity of Chinese science fiction. “I don’t like generalisations. If you ask 100 different Chinese science-fiction authors to give you the summary of present science fiction, they will give you equally diverse answers.”

当又回到如何看待中国科幻小说为何一夜爆红的话题时,刘宇昆的措辞变得谨慎。“我不想给出一个唯一的答案。如果你让100位中国科幻作家来总结科幻小说的现状,我想你会得到不一样的答案。”

 

For evidence, Liu points to the variety of voices in Invisible Planets. “Chen Qiufan or Ma Boyong write stories that feel very pessimistic about where progress has taken us, about what we have given up to be technological humans.” Contrasting with these dystopias are stories such as Xia’s Tongtong’s Summer, which starts as a melancholy portrait of old age and China’s widening generation gap, and ends with a strangely touching, hopeful vision of an automated future. “She is saying, ‘We have made a lot of progress but people are adaptable. We can figure out how to make this all work.’ It’s not about better plans from the government or magical fairies coming down to save us. Change comes from the individual taking responsibility for their own happiness and trying to convert the tools of cold, impersonal technology, of globalised capitalism, into our own freedoms.”

为此,刘宇昆还特别指出《看不见的星球》中作家们不同的观点。“陈楸帆或马伯庸的作品都对科技进步持悲观的态度,他们认为人类已经受科技支配。”但不同于这类反乌托邦作品,夏笳的《童童的夏天》开篇描述了中国老龄化以及代际冲突加剧等惨淡景象,但结局却十分感人,表达了对未来自动化社会的憧憬。“夏笳说:‘虽然社会取得了巨大进步,但人类有出色的适应能力,一定能找到解决各种问题的方法。这篇小说的主题不是政府出手或者神仙下凡拯救人类,而是每个人都能为自己谋幸福,通过利用冰冷的科技、全球化的资本主义来追求自由,从而改变整个社会’。”

Melancholy /ˈmelənkəli/ a deep feeling of sadness that lasts for a long time and often cannot be explained 忧郁;伤悲

 

Liu concedes that contemporary China provides fertile soil for the writers in Invisible Planets. “Liu Cixin said that sometimes the reason that science fiction is in decline is our lives are becoming more like science fiction. When people can’t figure out whether a rumour that Apple’s next iPhone is a transparent piece of glass is true or not …” Liu laughs.

刘宇昆承认,当代中国给《看不见的星球》中的这些作家提供了肥沃的土壤。他笑道:“刘慈欣说中国科幻小说市场低迷的原因可能是我们的生活越来越像科幻小说了。人们已经分不清关于下一代是一块透明玻璃的传言究竟是不是真的了。”

 

While grappling with cutting-edge technological development is nothing new, in science fiction or life, what distinguishes China from the rest of the world is the sheer scale and speed of that change. “The industrial advances that took centuries in Western nations have occurred in roughly 30 years,” he says. “Within the space of two generations, you have families where the parents lived an existence essentially like the 19th century and their children are now in Beijing working at some of the most advanced technological companies in the world.”

虽然在科幻小说或者现实生活中,追逐尖端科技并不是什么新鲜事,但中国大规模,高速度的科技发展着实令世界瞩目。刘宇昆说,“西方国家花了一个世纪才实现工业化,中国仅仅花了三十多年就完成了。在两代人间,可能父母还处在19世纪的生活状态,而他们的子女却已经在北京那些世界上最先进的科技公司工作了。”

Grapple with to try hard to find a solution to a problem 努力设法解决

 

If one grand theme unites the new generation of authors, it is attempting to narrate the social, political and personal confusions created by this intense transformation. “My personal view is that a lot of urban Chinese – the educated elite – feel a great deal of anxiety because they are experiencing modernity in a very compressed and accelerated fashion.”

如果要找出两代科幻作家的共同点,那应该是他们都在叙述这场巨变所带来的社会问题、政治困局和个人的困惑。“在我看来,许多都市中的中国人,尤其是高素质的精英们,都感到巨大的焦虑,因为他们被一场迅猛的现代化洪流裹挟着。”

 

Liu is only too aware that the hi-tech aspects of this present are not the whole story. He mentions Hao, who as well as writing award-winning stories works with children in rural villages whose parents have left to find work in distant cities. “In China, you have hundreds of millions of children who don’t even have basic nutrition. They grow up in concrete houses paid for by their parents’ wages but the concrete floors are bare.” Hao helps the grandparents raising these abandoned children learn better childcare techniques.

刘宇昆非常清楚高科技的迅猛发展并不是当今社会的全貌。他提到了郝景芳,她除了写过很多获奖的作品,还帮助过农村留守儿童,这些儿童的父母远赴城市打工。“在中国,有数亿孩子缺乏最基本的营养保障。他们住在父母用工资支付的钢筋混凝土房子里,而水泥地上空无一物。”郝景芳帮助这些留守儿童的祖父母更好地掌握了育儿技能。

 

While even the best science fiction cannot hope to match such noble practical contributions, Liu argues that it can help breed empathy. And empathy, he continues, is ultimately what links the sardonic surfaces of Chen’s The Year of the Rat and the surrealism of Tang Fei’s Call Girl, both of which are included in Invisible Planets.

虽然并不是所有优秀的科幻小说都有这么崇高的主题,都能产生切实的社会效益,但刘宇昆认为至少它们能引起读者的共鸣。他还提到了收录在《看不见的星球》中的两篇文章——陈楸帆的讽喻题材作品《鼠年》和糖匪的超现实主义作品《黄色故事》,这两篇文章的共同点正是能引起共鸣。

(注:《鼠年》描写的是中国生产的转基因老鼠发展出了智慧,建立了自己的社会和宗教,这对政府当然是一个威胁,于是毕业即失业的大学生都被组织起来,与老鼠们作战,死伤惨重,最后赢得了胜利;《黄色故事》关于一个青春期小女孩和她取悦的年长绅士,是个有着始料不及的反转的有趣故事。)

Sardonic /sɑːˈdɒnɪk/ showing that you think that you are better than other people and do not take them seriously 轻慢的;轻蔑的;嘲弄的

 

“It is about connection. Fundamentally, what we need is a story to make sense of it all. We need to tell each other stories, to make up new stories to transport us, to give us a moral centre in this very chaotic, impersonal sea of data.” Liu pauses. “I think it is very beautiful.”

”科幻小说有连结现实的作用。从根本上说,我们需要透过故事来理解现实,需要表达,需要在新的故事中安放自己的灵魂,需要在这个嘈杂、冰冷的数据世界里找到一间道德庇护所。”说到这里,刘宇昆停顿了一下,思索片刻后说道:“我认为这是科幻小说最美好的地方。”

 

(意犹未尽?今日准备了彩蛋,精彩不容错过!)


《北京折叠》部分译文赏析:

老刀回家洗了个澡,换了衣服。白色衬衫和褐色裤子,这是他唯一一套体面衣服,衬衫袖口磨了边,他把袖子卷到胳膊肘。

Lao Dao had gone home, first to shower and then to change. He was wearing a white shirt and a pair of brown pants—the only decent clothes he owned. The shirt’s cuffs were frayed, so he rolled them up to his elbows.

 

步行街上挤满了刚刚下班的人。拥挤的男人女人围着小摊子挑土特产,大声讨价还价。食客围着塑料桌子,埋头在酸辣粉的热气腾腾中,饿虎扑食一般,白色蒸汽遮住了脸。油炸的香味弥漫。货摊上的酸枣和核桃堆成山,腊肉在头顶摇摆。这个点是全天最热闹的时间,基本都收工了,忙碌了几个小时的人们都赶过来吃一顿饱饭,人声鼎沸。

People who had just gotten off work filled the road. Men and women crowded every street vendor, picking through local produce and bargaining loudly. Customers packed the plastic tables at the food hawker stalls, which were immersed in the aroma of frying oil. They ate heartily with their faces buried in bowls of hot and sour rice noodles, their heads hidden by clouds of white steam. Other stands featured mountains of jujubes and walnuts, and hunks of cured meat swung overhead. This was the busiest hour of the day—work was over, and everyone was hungry and loud.

 

盘子里一片狼藉,筷子仍在无望而锲而不舍地拨动,寻找辣椒丛中的肉星。老刀又下意识闻了闻小臂,不知道身上还有没有垃圾的腥味。周围的一切嘈杂而庸常,和每个清晨一样。

The dishes were a mess while pairs of chopsticks continued to search for elusive, overlooked bits of meat amongst the chopped peppers. Lao Dao sniffed his forearms again to be sure that the stench of garbage was off of him. The noisy, quotidian chaos around him assured him with its familiarity.

 

另外两个少年对谈话没兴趣,还在埋头吃面,小李低头看着他们,眼睛似乎穿过他们,看到了某个看不见的地方,目光里有热切。

The other two youths weren’t interested in the conversation and concentrated on shoveling food from the plate into the mouth. Li watched them, and his yearning gaze seemed to go through them and focus on something beyond.

 

身边卖大枣的女人高声叫卖,不时打断他的思绪,声音的洪亮刺得他头疼。

The loud chants of the woman next to him hawking her jujube interrupted his thoughts and gave him a headache.

 

老刀的父亲靠强健的意志在汹涌的人流中抓住机会的细草,待人潮退去,留在干涸的沙滩上,抓住工作机会,低头俯身,艰难浸在人海和垃圾混合的酸朽气味中,一干就是二十年。他既是这座城市的建造者,也是城市的居住者和分解者。

Strong–willed, Lao Dao’s father had held fast onto the thin reed of opportunity as the tide of humanity surged and then receded around him, until he found himself a survivor on the dry beach. His father had then kept his head down and labored away in the acidic rotten fetor of garbage and crowding for twenty years. He had built this city; he was also a resident and a decomposer.

 

他们就这么干着,以速度换生命,以数量换取薄如蝉翼的仅有的奖金。

This was their lot: to eke out a living by performing the repetitive drudgery as fast as possible, to toil hour after hour for rewards as thin as the wings of cicadas.


 

(等等~在译者的强烈要求下,我们决定再分享一下刘男神接受“新华网”和“南方都市报”采访时传达的翻译理念:)

 

一种语言作品要被其他语种的读者接受、喜爱,翻译的作用至关重要。翻译的灵魂是理解作者的声音(Voice),每位作者都有他独特的语言风格,熟悉他的读者通过文风就能猜到作者的名字。在我看来把故事讲出来、情节说清楚是比较容易的,但是作者独特的声音(Voice)是很难被翻译出来的。我在翻译作品时经常思考,如何把刘慈欣那种宏大的气派翻译出来,如何把郝景芳看待世界、看待宇宙独特的视角翻译出来,这些隐含在文字背后的东西是最难把握的。虽然目前机器翻译的水平已经很高,然而我觉得机器翻译还不能完美地表达作者的声音(Voice),所以短期内中西方文化作品的交流还离不开文学翻译工作者的支撑。

 

 

翻译别人的作品就像照顾别人家的孩子一样,责任重大。尽可能将原文的意思完整地表达出来,不做过多的雕琢但也不遗漏重要的东西。最好的英文翻译并不非得是’这文章好像原本就是用英语写成的一样’,而可以是一种全新的排列组合,让读者窥见另一种文化的人们思考问题的方式,感受另一种语言的节奏和韵律,如同跟一个新朋友见面握手一般。

 

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【南华早报】《三体》译者刘宇昆:不会写科幻的律师不是好翻译

<原文链接:http://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/books/article/2046108/how-sci-fi-translator-ken-liu-helps-chinese-writers>

 

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