Xu Dishan’s Essay: Peanuts– modern chinese literature

落花生

◎ 许地山

我们屋后有半亩隙地。母亲说:“让它荒芜着怪可惜,既然你们那么爱吃花生,就辟来做花生园罢 〔1〕  。”我们几姊弟 〔2〕  和几个小丫头都很喜欢——买种的买种,动土的动土,灌园的灌园;过不了几个月,居然收获了!

妈妈说:“今晚我们可以做一个收获节 〔3〕  ,也请你们爹爹来尝尝我们底新花生,如何?”我们都答应了。母亲把花生做成好几样的食品 〔4〕  ,还吩咐这节期要在园里底茅亭举行。

那晚上底天色不大好 〔5〕  ,可是爹爹也来到,实在很难得!爹爹说:“你们爱吃花生么?”

我们都争着答应:“爱!”

“谁能把花生底好处说出来?”

姊姊说:“花生底气味很美。”

哥哥说:“花生可以制油。”

我说:“无论何等人都可以用贱价买它来吃;都喜欢吃它。这就是它的好处。”

爹爹说:“花生底用处固然很多;但有一样是很可贵的。这小小的豆 〔6〕  不像那好看的苹果、桃子、石榴,把它们底果实悬在枝上,鲜红嫩绿 〔7〕  的颜色,令人一望而发生羡慕的心。它只把果子埋在地底,等到成熟,才容人把它挖出来。你们偶然看见一棵花生瑟缩 〔8〕  地长在地上,不能立刻辨出它有没有果实,非得等到你接触它才能知道。”

我们都说:“是的。”母亲也点点头。爹爹接下去说:“所以你们要像花生 〔9〕  ,因为它是有用的,不是伟大、好看的东西。”我说:“那么,人要做有用的人,不要做伟大、体面的人了。”爹爹说:“这是我对于你们的希望。”

我们谈到夜阑才散,所有花生食品虽然没有了,然而父亲底话现在还印在我心版上。

Peanuts

Xu Dishan

Behind our house there lay half a mou of vacant land. Mother said, “It’s a pity to let it lie waste. Since you all like to eat peanuts so very much, why not plant some here?” That exhilarated us children and our servant girls as well, and soon we started buying seeds, ploughing the land and watering the plants. We gathered in a good harvest just after a couple of months!

Mother said, “How about giving a party this evening to celebrate the harvest and inviting your Daddy to have a taste of our newly-harvested peanuts?” We all agreed. Mother made quite a few varieties of goodies out of the peanuts, and told us that the party would be held in the thatched pavilion on the peanut plot.

It looked like rain that evening, yet, to our great joy, father came nevertheless. “Do you like peanuts?” asked father.

“Yes, we do!” we vied in giving the answer.

“Which of you could name the good things in peanuts?”

“Peanuts taste good,” said my elder sister.

“Peanuts produce edible oil,” said my elder brother.

“Peanuts are so cheap,” said I, “that anyone can afford to eat them. Peanuts are everyone’s favourite. That’s why we call peanuts good.”

“It’s true that peanuts have many uses,” said father, “but they’re most beloved in one respect. Unlike nice-looking apples, peaches, and pomegranates, which hang their fruit on branches and win people’s admiration with their brilliant colours, tiny little peanuts bury themselves in the earth and remain underground until they’re ripe. When you come upon a peanut plant lying curled up on the ground, you can never immediately tell whether or not it bears any nuts until you touch them.”

“That’s true,” we said in unison. Mother also nodded. “So you must take after peanuts,” father continued, “because they’re useful though not great and nice-looking.”

“Then you mean one should be useful rather than great and nice-looking,” I said.

“That’s what I expect of you,” father concluded.

We kept chatting until the party broke up late at night. Today, though nothing is left of the goodies made of peanuts, father’s words remain engraved in my mind.

本文是许地山(1892—1941)的一篇久为流传的散文。作者回忆自己童年时代的一个小小片断,以朴实无华、清新自然的笔调,从花生的平凡而有用,谈到做人的道理,富于哲理,反映他身处旧社会的污泥浊流而洁身自好、不慕虚名的思想境界。

英译时以保持原作娓娓讲故事的朴素风格为要,译文除符合英语习惯和规范外,遣词宜力求通俗,造句宜力求简洁。

注释

〔1〕 原句也可译为why not have them planted here或why not make a peanut plot of it,但现译更直截了当,且避免在同一句中重复peanuts一词。

〔2〕 “几姊弟”在下文将涉及,为防累赘,译children。

〔3〕 “做一个收获节”不宜直译为hold a harvest festival,现取意译。

〔4〕 “食品”也可译为food,但不如goodies贴切;goodies指“好吃的东西”,常用于口语。

〔5〕 “那晚上底天色不大好”译为It looked like rain that evening,符合原意和英语习惯。

〔6〕 “这小小的豆”译为tiny little peanuts。英语中常把tiny和little用在一起,有“小得可怜(爱)”等含意。

〔7〕 “鲜红嫩绿”不宜直译,译brilliant colours即可。

〔8〕 “瑟缩”意即“蜷曲而不舒展”,故有现译。

〔9〕 “你们要像花生”译为you must take after peanuts,其中take after是成语,意即take … as an example(学习……的榜样)。

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