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雷勤风:钱锺书百年诞辰志

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雷勤风(Christopher G. Rea):加拿大不列颠哥伦比亚大学亚洲研究係


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文人最喜欢有人死,可以有题目做哀悼的文章……“周年逝世纪念”和“三百年祭”,一样的好题目。——钱锺书《围城》






北美新闻媒体凡有关中国的要闻,近来似乎都是政治化的题目。久而久之,这种倾向让西方人对中国产生一个错觉:就是说,在中国,政治即是人生。

  对于中国文化人,更是如此:好像要先弄清楚人家的政治立场,才能够评价他的文化成就。

  那么,何以解释钱锺书呢?整整一百年以前,钱锺书生于江苏无锡。他的人生故事应该为华文读者所熟知:一个从小“锺(情于)书”的神童,后来成为现代中国“最杰出的文人”,把他对中西文学的百科全书式的知识,灌注入他写作的那些充满洞察力的学术论文和文学创作。

  青年钱锺书从圣公会办的辅仁中学考入清华大学外文系,后来留学牛津大学巴黎大学,进修欧洲文学,抗战爆发之后,于1938年与家人一起回国。

  抗战年间,钱锺书在内地和上海的几所大学教书,同时写了多种著作(大部分是战后出版的),包括:散文集《写在人生边上》(1941),短篇小说集《人兽鬼》(1946),长篇小说《围城》(始连载于1946-1947年),以及诗论《谈艺录》(1948)。1949年前后,他谢绝了几所海外大学的聘请留在祖国,1949年回到清华母校任教;1953年调到北京大学文学研究所(即今之中国社科院文学研究所)。


在某种程度上,钱锺书在“新中国”受到的待遇,和其它知识分子一样:他停止创作,他的研究反复被政治运动中断。但与众不同的是,由于他超群的中外语言能力,他被调入一个精英小组,受委托把毛泽东诗词翻译成英文。虽担任过这种再红不过的革命任务,他和夫人杨绛还是遭到政治批判,“文革”时期下放到河南干校,经过了几年的“再教育”和“改造”。改革开放以后,他们重新“出土”的旧作被中国读者再发现,二位也开始出版新作。

  不过,这段人们耳熟能详的传记故事,还是无法令人体会到钱锺书独特的才智和操守,也难让人明白为什么他在乱世间写的文学著作和评论文章有那么了不起。钱锺书通晓英文、法文德文意大利文西班牙文希腊文拉丁文、文言和白话文学,创立了一门新的比较文学批评模式,打通了不同语境,让我们发现其中有多种互补的形象化语句。比如,在一篇早期论文中他指出,法语bonheur(喜乐)暗示好(bon)事“祇是个把钟头(heur)的玩艺儿”,就像中文“快活”也暗示人高兴时活得最快。不过,钱锺书不是卖弄巧思而已,反而把这种跨语际不谋而合的修辞节点,当作跳板,带读者跳进人类想象力创造的浩瀚辞海。

  令读者最惊喜的是他研究人生过程中体现的高雅机智和拉伯雷式的幽默。中文现成的警句本来就不少,钱锺书的警句却更加异想天开。假道学,就像无学问而偏教书,“好比无本钱的生意,就是艺术”。偏见源于“人心位置,并不正中,有点偏侧,并且时髦得很,偏倾于左”。地心吸力说明为什么“下等人这样多,上等人那么希罕”。一位上海商人“说话里嵌的英文字,还比不得嘴里嵌的金牙,因为金牙不仅装点,尚可使用,只好比牙缝里嵌的肉屑,表示饭菜吃得好,此外全无用处”。

  他的小说对于人间喜剧做更长久而且微妙的探究;其中,如是警句等于是充满感叹号和问号的旁白。《围城》述说一个年轻人,在欧洲混了几年之后,临走之前从一个爱尔兰人那里买来假文凭。回国后,方鸿渐与两位女士纠缠不清,同时推攮长辈们的矛盾要求,但是最后得罪众人,接到一所三流的三闾大学的聘请,逃到僻远的内地去教书。


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举报|4楼2015-12-29 11:27
    钱锺书讽刺伪文化人的风俗喜剧,从此就变成了一个笑话百出、越笑越苦的“西游记”。不过,与大多数抗战小说不同,主人公之所以要逃出上海,是因为自己失恋,不是因为国军失地。就像他后来与一位同事结婚一样,方鸿渐的故事,并非由大历史事件所推动,而是根于一位聪明机智却常常自上其当的“油嘴”的胆怯行为。返沪以后,新人的婚姻急速恶化,方鸿渐最终回到原处,多了伤痕,少了朋友。作为一种人心难平的象征,方鸿渐的下场,比书名隐含的法国谚语———“婚姻如被围困的城堡:城外的人想冲进去,城里的人想逃出来”———更耐人寻味。

      换一句话说,在一个抗日寓言走红的时代,住在沦陷区上海的钱锺书,却以人心为焦点,把现代人生描写成一出近乎荒诞剧的丑戏。这种达观,似乎让钱锺书经得起毛泽东时代带来的苦难。不少中国知识分子被迫埋头闭嘴;唯有钱锺书开始编写一本多册的古文笔记巨作,自谦取名《管锥编》(1979-1980)。

      的确,如果钱锺书的终身事业有一个主旋律的话,那就应该是“眼界”。在一篇早期的散文中,他把患着近视眼的批评家比作“从一撮垃圾飞到别一撮垃圾”的苍蝇,挖苦他们,就如英国诗人威廉·布莱克(William Blake)一样,具有“一沙一世界,一花一天国”的胸襟。他文章所摆出的文学全景,使我们不妨把钱锺书视为20世纪最杰出的文学世界主义者之一;如果钱锺书在西方汉学界以外仍是一个罕闻的名字,那主要是因为他的文章是用中文写的。

      钱锺书的文章提醒我们,在现代中国,政治生活和文化生活不见得是同一回事;世界主义者,也不见得只是跟西方同调。生活经历跨越几次政权交替的钱锺书,最“政治性”的行为,就是他创立了一个各国文学能够平等对话的空间(republic of letters)。作为一位见多识广、精通多国语言的人,他偏要定居中国、用中文写作。指出这点,并非为了把钱锺书浪漫化成一位“不问政治”的隐士,或者相反,一个爱国者;而是为了指出,他与时势之间保持了极度的独立性。在钱锺书的作品中,我们能够发现一个要闻里罕见的“中国”。


    英文版



    “Life, it’s been said, is one big book…”: One hundred years of Qian Zhongshu


    By Christopher Rea(雷勤风)


    “Men of letters love it when someone dies, since it gives them a topic for a memorial essay… ‘Commemorating the First Anniversary of So-and-So’s Death’ and ‘A Tri-Centennial Elegy’ are equally good topics.” — Qian Zhongshu, Fortress Besieged
    文人最喜歡有人死,可以有題目做哀悼的文章….“周年逝世紀念”和“三百年祭”,一樣的好題目。 —錢鍾書《圍城》


    Headlines about China have been looking the same for some time now. “The China story” always seems to be political: labor riots and their suppression; sabre-rattling over Taiwan and cultural erasure in Tibet; catastrophic earthquakes and official ineptitude; internet censorship and jailed dissidents (the latest being Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo). Even ostensibly good news, such as the Chinese government’s investment in wind power, becomes yet another story about how China is going to eat our lunch.


    These stories must be told, and the Chinese government’s feet must be held to the fire on many issues. Yet these stories collectively imply a “truth” about China that is equally misleading: namely that in China, politics is life.


    This truism has become ingrained in Western views of Chinese culture. I was struck by this not long ago during a Canadian radio interview of the author Yu Hua when the host’s first question was whether or not Yu Hua was a “dissident.” A recent New Yorker article about China’s “most eminent writer” and former Minister of Culture, Wang Meng, set a similarly political agenda by asking whether Wang is a “reformer” or an “apologist” of the Communist Party. To be Chinese, as far as the West is concerned, seems to mean being for or against one’s government.


    A more detached perspective is to be found in the writings of a man who might be called the best Chinese writer you’ve never heard of: Qian Zhongshu.


    One hundred years ago today, Qian was born into a scholarly family in Wuxi, Jiangsu province. Tutored in the classics from a young age, he went on to become modern China’s “foremost man of letters,” in Ronald Egan’s words, accumulating encyclopedic knowledge of Chinese and Western literatures, and putting it to use in his scholarship and creative writing.


    A graduate of Tsinghua University, Qian studied European literature at Oxford and the Sorbonne before returning with his family to China in 1938 after the outbreak of war with Japan.


    While teaching at various universities in southwestern China and Shanghai during the war, Qian composed a collection of essays, Written in the Margins of Life (1941); a collection of short stories, Human, Beast, and Ghost (1946); and a novel, Fortress Besieged (serialized, 1946-1947), as well as occasional poems and reviews, and a major work of poetry criticism. After the war he was recruited to teach at his alma mater in Beijing, but he soon transferred to an affiliated research institute and remained in China after the 1949 communist takeover, having turned down several job offers from abroad.


    Qian Zhongshu’s fate in New China was, to a certain degree, similar to that of many Chinese intellectuals. He stopped creative writing, and his research was repeatedly interrupted by political campaigns. Unusually, due to his linguistic prowess, he was assigned to an elite group tasked with translating Mao’s poetry into English. He and his wife, the scholar-writer Yang Jiang, nevertheless suffered ideological criticism and, during the Cultural Revolution, were sent to rural Henan province for “re-education” and “reform” through agricultural labor. During the cultural thaw after Mao’s death, both resumed publishing and had their long-forgotten works “rediscovered” by the Chinese public.


    This biography obscures the talent and self-possession that makes Qian’s literary and scholarly output during periods of war and political turmoil so remarkable. Widely read in modern and classical Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Greek, and Latin, Qian pioneered a new model of comparative literature that drew out resonances in cross-cultural patterns of figurative language. In an early essay, for instance, he observes that just as the French word for “happiness” (bonheur) suggests that good (bon) things last no more than an hour (heur), so its Chinese equivalent kuaihuo implies that when one is happy one lives (huo) quickly (kuai). No mere purveyor of precious insights, Qian used such resonances as jumping off points for wide-ranging investigations of the human imagination.


    These investigations are particularly striking for their urbane wit and Rabelaisian humor. In a language given to pithy idioms, Qian’s epigrams are in a league of their own. Hypocritical moralizing “is like doing business without capital—a veritable art.” Prejudice can be explained by the human heart’s anatomical position “not actually in the center, but to one side—and, most fashionably, slightly to the left.” Gravity accounts for why “lower-class people are so numerous and upper-class people so rare.” The English buzzwords a Shanghai businessman sprinkles in his Mandarin are like not gold teeth (which are functional as well as decorative), but rather “the bits of meat stuck between the teeth, which show that one has had a good meal but are otherwise useless.” All this from a writer who once dissuaded an over-eager fan by asking: “If you enjoyed eating an egg, would you bother seeking out the hen that laid it?”


    In Qian’s fiction, such witticisms punctuate longer explorations of the human comedy. Fortress Besieged, one of modern China’s greatest novels, tells the story of a young man who, after several years of bumming around Europe, returns to China with a bogus, mail-order degree purchased from an Irishman. Back home, Fang Hongjian becomes entangled with two women, while trying to ward off conflicting demands from his elders, but he ends up alienating all of them and seeking refuge as a teacher at a no-name university deep in China’s interior provinces.


    At this point, Qian’s satire of urban pseudo-intellectuals switches to picaresque adventure. Unlike much wartime fiction, however, our hero’s flight from Shanghai is motivated by a romance gone bad rather than the Japanese military threat. As with his later marriage to a colleague, Fang’s story is propelled not by the grand events of history but the petty cowardice of an intelligent and witty man who always ends up outwitting himself. Back in Shanghai, the newlyweds’ marriage quickly deteriorates and Fang ends up back where he started, bruised and alone. As a symbol of humans’ perpetual dissatisfaction with their lot, Fang’s fate strikes a deeper chord than the playful French proverb that likens marriage to “a fortress besieged: those who are outside want to get in; and those who are inside want to get out.”


    While many of his fellow writers were penning anti-Japanese allegories, then, Qian, writing in occupied Shanghai, was depicting modern life as a comedy verging on the theater of the absurd. This detachment served Qian well through the indignities and deprecations of the Mao years. Countless Chinese writers kept their heads down and mouths shut in order to survive; only one completed a massive, multi-volume reappraisal of the Chinese literary canon, which the author self-deprecatingly titled Limited Views (1979-1980).


    Indeed, if there is one recurring theme in Qian Zhongshu’s life’s work it is breadth of vision. In an early essay he likened near-sighted critics to flies buzzing from one pinch of garbage to the next, ironically praising them for their ability to find, like Blake, “a world in a grain of sand / And heaven in a wildflower.” Qian himself treated life like “one big book” and claimed to be content with merely jotting down “piecemeal, spontaneous impressions” in its margins. In fact, the panoramic vision we find in Qian’s “jottings” marks him as one of the twentieth-century’s great literary cosmopolitans. If he remains little known in the West, it is mostly because he wrote in Chinese.


    Qian’s writings thus pose a challenge not just to overpoliticized views of China, but to the presumption that to be cosmopolitan is to play on the West’s terms. Living under three governments (Nationalist, Japanese, and Communist), Qian’s most “political” act was to establish his own autonomous republic of letters. Worldly and multilingual, he chose to live in China and write in Chinese. This is not to romanticize Qian as an “apolitical” author or, conversely, a patriot. The point is rather that he sustained an extraordinary degree of creative independence from his immediate circumstances. In Qian’s works, then, we find one “China” that rarely makes headlines.


    Christopher Rea is assistant professor of modern Chinese literature at the University of British Columbia and the editor of Humans, Beasts, and Ghosts: Stories and Essays by Qian Zhongshu, which will be published by Columbia University Press in December. He is also the organizer of the workshop “Qian Zhongshu and Yang Jiang: A Centennial Perspective,” which will be held at UBC on December 10-12, 2010.
    For more on Fortress Besieged, see Xia Shi’s essay, “From an Elite Novel to a Popular Metaphor.”
    ——原载http://www.thechinabeat.org/?p=2915






    好文章,顶一个!


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    举报|来自Android客户端7楼2015-12-29 23:24