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文学还能为谁服务?

文学还能为谁服务?


我们翻译这篇文章的理由


门槛的降低,意味着质量和品位的下降。在娱乐手段多样的现代,文学失去了往日的光辉,不得不与各色媒体同流合污。这看似进一步实现了文学的多样化,实则抛弃了文学作品的本心和核心竞争力。文学与其它媒介的边界被模糊,所谓的“作家”和“评论家”对文学一窍不通。因此,真正的文学作者应当把握住核心读者,保持文学的纯粹性与创造性,才能使得文学最终不至沦为小众的自娱自乐。

——刘小康


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文学还能为谁服务?


作者:Isaac Bashevis Singer

译者:不   锁

校对:刘小康

推荐:王雅婧

策划:刘小康 & 邬璐雪




Who Needs Literature?
文学还能为谁服务?


From time to time I ask myself: Who needs literary fiction? Why invent things when nature and life supply so many strange events? Because — aside from our imagination never being able to keep up with the factual and psychological surprises of reality — not even the greatest master’s pen can be as consistent and accurate as a factual history that is told in documents or that comes to light during a trial in court. Just as heaven and earth have conspired that there is no such thing as a perfect murder, so there can never exist a perfect novel. Even Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary have their faults, familiar inconsistencies that appear in every piece of fiction. I myself have reached the point that a newspaper report or a “case history” in a book interests me morethan a literary work. Why all the psychological explanations when they clarify nothing about the emotions? Why bother proving a lie when truth needs no preface?
我时常问自己:是谁需要文学小说?大自然和现实生活提供了足够丰富的奇闻轶事,为什么还要虚构创作?毕竟,不单我们的想象力永远无法跟上来自现实的事实和心理上的惊奇,而且即使最伟大的作家,也无法把小说写得如同史料档案或审判记录般前后一致、准确无误。日月可鉴,世上不存在完美的谋杀;同理,世上也不存在完美的小说。虚构作品普遍存在结构矛盾的通病,连《安娜·卡列尼娜》和《包法利夫人》这样的杰作也未能幸免。在当下,比起文学作品,新闻报道或书里的个案史更容易吸引我的兴趣。明明对于阐释情感毫无帮助,为什么还要创造心理学理论?明明真相足够引人入胜,为什么要费力圆一个谎言?


I sometimes fear that all of humankind may sooner or later come to my conclusion: that reading fiction is a waste of time.
有时我担心,所有人早晚会得出和我一样的结论:读小说就是浪费时间。

But why should I be afraid? Just because I would personally be one of the victims?
但我为什么要害怕呢?仅仅因为我个人的利益会遭受损失吗?


No, it’s not just that. Even though we can now land on Mount Everest in a helicopter, it would be a pity if we no longer attempted climbing to the top. The value of literary fiction is not only its capacity to both entertain readers and teach them something, but also as a sport — an intellectual challenge. Even if we could invent a machine that would report to us precisely all of the experiences of a Raskolnikov, a Madame Bovary, or an Anna Karenina, it would still be interesting to know if this could be done with pen and paper.
不是的,至少不只是如此。现在人类可以通过直升飞机直接降落在珠穆朗玛峰顶,可我们如果就此完全放弃了亲自攀爬登顶,也着实可惜。文学小说的价值,不止在于它既能娱乐读者、并使他们从中受益,同时它还是一项运动、一种才智上的挑战。即使我们可以发明一种机器,把某个拉斯柯尔尼科夫、某位包法利夫人或安娜·卡列尼娜的经历精确地记录下来,我们仍然对于能否用纸和笔做到这点充满兴趣。

This approach to literature is not yet completely relevant for the simple fact that no such machine yet exists. But a whole array of forces is gradually assembling this machine. Modern readers know more and more about psychology, and to them a writer’s explanations often seem unnecessary, false, or old-fashioned. They reads plenty, and no theme is shocking enough to surprise them. They get the facts from newspapers, magazines, radio, television, or movies. They’re connected to all the corners of the world — and nothing invented by the mind can compare with what takes place in reality. There’s still a chance that, in our day — or yours — humankind will reach the moon, or one of the planets. All the fantasies of so-called “science fiction” will pale in comparison with footage shot on the moon or on the other planets.
只是因为这样的机器目前还不存在,所以这种文学创作方式还没有产生很大影响。但一系列力量都在逐渐地集合,形成这台机器。现代的读者越发了解心理学。对他们而言,作者的解释常常不必要、甚至错了或已经过时。他们阅读量广泛,已经没有主题有足够的冲击力、能使他们眼前一亮了。他们从报纸、杂志、广播、电视或者电影中了解各类事实。他们无所不知,而虚构的事物根本不能与现实相提并论。在你我生命中的某天,人类就有可能会抵达月球或其它行星。到那时,所谓“科幻小说”中的全部想象,都将在月球或其他行星上的真实影像面前黯然失色。


Put this way, literature would still seem to survive as an intellectual sport. But it would be a sport in which only people playing the sport, as well as a few amateurs, would be interested. A man who walked on foot to California might summon our admiration, but his walking would not be taken seriously as a medium of communication. For this reason, I fear the day when literary fiction becomes a sport. It often seems to me that we are already at this point. It has actually already happened with poetry, including in our own Yiddish language. The poetic word is now read almost exclusively by poets. In such a great and wealthy land as the United States, works of poetry are often published in 500 copies and a good part of these is distributed by authors among their friends. Drama has not yet reached the sad state of poetry, but it’s going in that the same direction.
即便如此,文学仍有可能作为一种智力运动存活下来,但会是个仅有专业人士跟极少数业余爱好者参与的游戏。一个徒步抵达加州的人或许令人钦佩,但此类行为不会被视为一种传播媒介。因此,我害怕文学小说变成竞赛项目的那天。可我时常感觉我们已经进入那一天了。它已经在诗歌上应验,包括我们犹太人的意第绪语诗歌。现在欣赏诗歌的几乎只有诗人。在广袤而富裕的美国,诗集的发行量通常只有500册,其中还有相当一部分由作者散发给了自己的朋友们。戏剧的境遇目前还没有像诗歌一样悲惨,但正朝着这样的结局发展。

As for literary prose, we often feel like it’s doing well. Books of prose are still bought in hundreds of thousands of copies. But when we look a little deeper into the matter, we see that what we nowadays call “literary fiction” is often far from literary fiction. Works are often sold under the label “novel” that are in fact three-fourths or a 100 percent journalism.
文学散文好像还发展得不错,因为散文书仍然能卖出数十万册。但当我们深入探究,就会发现当下所谓的“文学小说”根本不是小说。这类作品往往只是打着“小说”的旗号,实际上超过四分之三的内容都是新闻纪实。


At no other time has the boundary between journalism and literature been so thin and so blurred as in ours. It often seems to me that modern critics suffer from amnesia. They’ve forgotten the elementary rules of the game called literature. It’s no feat to score grand victories in a chess game if, right from the start, one player gets more pieces than another, or if the rules of the game change with each round.
新闻与文学的界限从未像今天一样细微模糊。现代批评家们经常像是得了失忆症,忘记了“文学”的基本规则。拿象棋打个比方,如果一方开局就有更多棋子,或者每局的规则都不同,即便获胜了也毫无意义。


Each amnesia has its hidden purpose, and the literary amnesia of our time is not simply some kind of random illness. It has its tendencies, its goals. The big publishers, the large printing machines, the masses of readers who have arrived thanks to the liquidation of illiteracy — these can no longer be served by the small number of real talents born in a single generation. In addition, the real talents no longer have the power or the means to affect readers as they did a generation or two ago. Instead of admitting that there’s a crisis in literature and that journalism must step in on behalf of literature, literary critics, publishers, and often writers themselves have, consciously and more often unconsciously, changed the concept, they’ve ostensibly expanded it, but in reality simply confused and forgotten it. It’s as if people playing a sport had suddenly decided that a participant in a footrace can ride a bicycle.It’s a revolution that, instead of enriching the field, impoverishes and liquidates it.
每种失忆症都有其背后的目的,我们时代的文学失忆症也不是出于偶然,而是有它的发展趋势和目标。文盲的扫除催生了出版巨头、印刷厂和广大读者,他们如今已经不能依赖仅仅一个时代的少数天才作家过活。另一方面,如今真正有才华的作家也不像前一两代作家那样,能有权力或手段去影响读者。文学批评家、出版商,甚至作者们自身,不仅不承认文学存在危机、新闻必须以文学的名义伸出援手,而且有意地——更多是无意地——改变了文学的概念,他们表面上扩展了“文学”的范畴,实际上混淆并忘却了它原本的概念。这就好比竞走运动突然允许参赛者骑上自行车。这不是对文学原始疆域的拓展,而是一场使它枯竭消亡的颠覆。


Precisely in our time of great specialization — when each science is divided into various subfields for the simple reason that each one demands a scientist’s full attention — literature has experienced a merging of all its forces. There has arisen a mixture and mishmash of methods and media that has one value: deceit. We have not expanded the concept of artistic prose, only stretched and crippled it. A modern work of literary fiction often contains amateurish essays about psychology and psychoanalysis; a lot of journalistic information that we can easily find in newspapers, magazines, or encyclopedias; all kinds of pop and pseudo-scientific theories and facts; often even critical articles; jokes and wisecracks by literary satirists; political opinions and messages; facts from sexology; and so on and so forth. Neither writers nor critics ever have any idea of what literature is and what it is not; what has been created and what has been borrowed; when writers walk under their own power and when they foist themselves onto someone else’s wagon. What difference does it make whether a runner runs on foot or rides a bicycle? The only thing that’s important is reaching the end faster than the others. The modern critic has only one measure: the effect, the commotion that the literary work provokes in undiscerning readers, and the effect that this same work can have when it is adapted into a television show or movie.
我们处在一个专业细分的时代,每门科学都进一步分成许多子领域,而每个子域都需要科学家的全身心投入。与此同时,文学却被各种力量揉合。方法和媒介以欺骗为核心,开始了同流合污。我们没有拓宽文学散文的概念,而是过分延展并破坏了它。现代文学小说经常包含了心理和精神分析的业余文字,大量我们能从报纸、杂志和百科全书上轻易找到的新闻信息,各种流行的伪科学理论或事实,常常还有些批评性内容、讽刺作家的笑话和俏皮话、政治观点和信息、性学知识,如此等等。作家或者批评家都不清楚文学的概念,搞不懂谁是谁非;不明白什么是创作、什么是借鉴;看不出作者是在自主创作、还是剽窃他人成果。赛跑者有没有借助自行车并不重要,唯一重要的就是要比其他人更早抵达终点。现代的批评家仅有一个评判标准:效果。他们只在乎文学作品能在迟钝的读者身上激起的效果,以及改编成电影电视剧时能在观众身上产生的效果。


Try to imagine a writer who takes the same theme as Flaubert, writing a sort of new Madame Bovary, but with World War II as the background. The novel, in addition to the story of a disloyal women, will give the story of Hitlerism, Stalin’s purges, the extermination of six million Jews, the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the abdication of King Edward for the sake of Mrs. Wallis Simpson, the revolution in China, and who knows what else. I don’t need to tell you that one could easily compose such a novel. A modern Madame Bovary doesn’t have to sit in some small town. She can fly in an airplane. She could even, in addition, be a Soviet spy, or a double or triple agent. An able writer can even compose all this in a way that makes sense — the facts would all be connected. It is unnecessary to say that such a work would likely excite readers much more than some story of a provincial wife betraying her husband. It’s true, World War II and all the other horrors and savageries have already been portrayed by others, and a writer can add nothing to this. But neither the reader nor the contemporary critic is interested in the rules of the game, in the definition of literary fiction. Reviewers often respond to these kinds of works with “I stayed up all night and couldn’t put the book down,” “Thrilling” “I’ll never forget it,” and so on and on. I am not exaggerating when I say that the number of these works does not cease to increase. Such works receive prizes. Such writers are designated literary geniuses.
假使现在有个作家选择和福楼拜同样的主题,以第二次世界大战作为背景,写一部新的《包法利夫人》。在这个不忠女人的故事外,小说还要把希特勒主义、斯大林大清洗、犹太人大屠杀、原子弹轰炸广岛和长崎、为华里丝·辛普森夫人退位的爱德华八世、中国革命,如此等等都囊括其中。现代的包法利夫人也不需要局限于小镇以内,她可以乘坐飞机任意出行。除此以外,她甚至可以是一个苏联间谍,甚至是双重间谍、三重间谍。一个有能耐的作家可以把所有这些都以某种合理的方式杂糅在一起,让所有的事实相互关联。毋庸置疑,这样的一部小说肯定比一个发生在乡下的妻子背叛丈夫的故事更能使读者激动不已。事实上,二战及其他所有恐怖和暴行都被人写过,已经没有小说作家发挥的余地了。但不管是读者还是当代的评论家,都对前提规则不感兴趣,漠视文学小说的定义。评论家经常对上述作品给出如此评论:“我一直阅读,通宵未眠、爱不释手”,“刺激”,“令人终生难忘”等等。毫不夸张地说,不仅这样的作品有增无减,写出它们的作家还被标榜为文学天才。


For those genuinely interested in literature and its achievements, such works are a sign of a tragic downturn, a sickness that people try to cover up with bragging, false cures, harmful injections, and drugs. We have so expanded the definitions and so deformed the rules that everyone can play and everyone can win. Anyone who understands how rarely a true talent is born and how extremely difficult it is to be original — to discover something of one’s own in the art of writing — can clearly see that we are not dealing with progress but regress, a sort of literary anarchy that’s good only for the big publishers and their printing presses, for television and Hollywood.
对于那些真诚地欣赏文学及其成就的人而言,这样的作品是文学悲剧性衰退的标志,但人们却用吹嘘加以掩饰,用错误的疗法、有害的药剂对付文学的现代病。我们过分地延展了“文学”的概念、破坏了它的规则,使得人人都可以进去捞一把。事实上,不仅真正的天才无比稀有,在写作的艺术中找到独属自己的发现以实现原创,也极其困难。凡是领悟到这点的人都能清醒地看见,我们不是在迎接进步,反而身陷逆流。这种文学失序的状态,获益者只有大出版商和他们的印刷厂,以及电视电影行业。


As a rule, parasites grow and develop best in a body that’s sick. Instead of blaming the parasite, we should examine why the sick body has lost its defenses.
一般来说,寄生虫在患病宿主的身体里最为活跃。与其责备寄生虫,我们更应该审视身体的防御系统为何失守。


Why has poetry reached its current state? What’s the matter with drama? And how is it that literary prose has to go beyond its natural limits and become a mishmash of styles and facts in order to appeal to readers?
诗歌为什么陷入了现在的困境?戏剧遇到了什么瓶颈?文学散文又为了什么不得不突破它的边界、成为风格和事实的大杂烩,以吸引读者?


The reason is that the essence of literature — the portrayal of characters, the expression of individuals — has never had many enthusiasts. Even in the best of times, readers of literature looked for — and found — not the main thing, but those elements of secondary importance. People who visit a museum not to see paintings but because they feel they should, or because they want to meet someone there, are always in the majority. In days of old, when there were no major newspapers, no national magazines, when even history books were rare and badly written, readers of fiction found a lot more than what the writer had aimed for, drawing information about all kinds of fields from the literary work. War and Peace, for example, was for these kinds of readers a historical work about the Napoleonic Wars, a description of Russian soldiers and aristocrats, a travelogue. Very often readers learned etiquette from novels, how people love each other, how they spend their time, how they dress, and so on. Works of literary fiction were once the only means by which the readers might encounter psychology and, in many cases, psychoanalysis. Many readers simply used literary texts to learn syntax and grammar. And all this was even more the case with theatergoers.
唯一的原因在于,对于文学的本质,即对人物的描写、个体的表达,从来没有太多狂热爱好者。即使在文学的黄金时期,读者们也是在寻找、并最终找见了那些文学本质之外的次要因素。大多数人去博物馆不是为了欣赏画作,而是觉得有去一趟的必要,或是因为有个约会。在过去还没有主流报纸、国民杂志的日子里,在历史书都还只是潦草撰写的时期,小说的读者从阅读中获得的比作者意欲给出的更多——他们从文学作品中吸取到各领域的信息。举个例子,对这样的读者而言,《战争与和平》既是一部关于拿破仑战争时期的历史作品,也是关于俄罗斯士兵和贵族的记叙作品,还是一份旅行见闻游记。读者常常从小说中学习礼仪规范,学习人们如何相爱,如何打发时间,如何穿衣打扮等等。对读者而言,文学小说曾是接触心理学和精神分析的唯一途径。很多读者通过文学作品的文本学习句法和语法。如此种种,对于戏迷来说,均有过之而无不及。

The new era, in a sense, brought a radical change. Readers get endless information from the radio, from film, from the press, from television.They hear lectures on psychology and psychoanalysis. They watch travel shows, often enough travel themselves, and have knowledge of the world. If literary fiction and theater were to continue playing their old role, they would need an audience with a strong interest in human character and individuality, independent of all these other byproducts and external concerns. But the number of such connoisseurs is small. Real and pure connoisseurs of art are nearly as rare as real and pure artists.
在某种意义上讲,新的时代带来了彻底的改变。读者得以从广播、电影、图书、电视中接受无尽的信息,能够学习心理学和精神分析课程。他们本身往往就有足够多的旅行经历,还能通过旅游节目进一步了解世界。如果文学小说和剧场还想扮演从前的角色,就必须要有这样的读者群体:他们对人物特征和人物个性有强烈兴趣,而不在意文学副产品或外部关注。但是这样的文学鉴赏家数量极少。真正的纯粹的鉴赏家几乎和真正的纯粹的艺术家一样珍稀。


Precisely because people today are surrounded by a sea of information related to all kinds of fields, genuine modern artists have to deliver more and more artistic purity, more substance, a greater focus on the portrayal of character and individuality. But for this one has to have exceptional gifts. It is, simply put, harder than ever to be original and creative in new ways.
正因为今天的人们被来自各领域的海量信息包围,真诚的现代艺术家不得不在他们的作品中体现更多的艺术纯粹性、实质性,着重刻画人物和个性。但要做到这些,创作者必须有超常的天赋。简而言之,在如今要想保持原创和新颖,比以往任何时候都更为困难。



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参考阅读:


唐勿:虚构是“小说最真实的成分”


“虚构是“小说最真实的成分”。这也就是我感到新闻可疑的原因。我们每天处在新闻的狂轰滥炸之中,但却越来越感到这个世界的不确定、不真实。……很多时候,事实、真相只是统治者的陪葬品,作家的思想面临着种种现实的压力,这要求作家成为生活的智者,通过虚构一个独立的世界,来表达自己对现实世界的看法,来表达自己对所处社会的认识,这就要求小说家虚构的现实高于所处的时代。所以说,小说虽然是一种虚构的艺术,却是一种更为深刻的真实。”
莫言诺贝尔文学奖演讲《讲故事的人》


“莫言站在诺贝尔讲台上,向全世界人讲述了一个生存的和文学的故事。他用讲故事的方式,表达了他对自我、人生、社会、历史的理解,以及民间故事与现代小说的关系。莫言在演讲中呈现了现实经验转化为艺术经验的过程。他的故事有三个来源:一是现实的残酷经验,如童年的苦难记忆。二是超越残酷经验的爱和悲悯,如母亲的爱、东方哲学的启示。三是故乡流传的丰富多彩的民间传说。这些要素,通过他个人的奇思异想组合在故事结构中。他的故事,既是对残酷现实生活的写照,也是超越现实的残酷性和人的局限性的通道,更是一个存在和灵魂的避难所。由此,实现了文学的超越性。这正是文学的根本价值和精神旨归。”


http://www.wenming.cn/book/pdjj/201212/t20121208_974718_2.shtml



文学还能为谁服务?


  • 本文原载于 Los Angeles Review of Books

  • 原文链接:

    https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/who-needs-literature/



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文学还能为谁服务? 



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