Saturday, October 27, 2012

在學術會議的晚宴上談《紅樓夢》

學術會議的晚宴,長長的餐桌上,坐在我對面乃一位俄亥俄大學教授之妻。丈夫飛去地球某端參加會議發表研究,太太隨著觀光,是學術界常見現象。但這位太太,談吐相當不俗,恐怕並非那種觀光shopping類型。雖然整個晚上,我也沒問過她所從何業,但內心暗想,可能也是一位大學教授吧。我們天南地北地聊了一回,教授太太忽然說起了《紅樓夢》......

她說她把《紅樓夢》的英譯本看過一遍,卻不明所以,覺得書中角色的行事為人,相當奇怪。我說,《紅樓夢》確乃經典,將中國人性濃縮在一本小說裡,別說你看不懂,就算現代社會的中國人,很多都看不懂。

"The author didn't want to write an article to discuss the characters of the Chinese. He didn't want to say: Chinese people are like this, Chinese people are like that. Rather, he used some stories to illustrate their behaviors, their characters, and particularly the politics between them."

我接著說了兩面三刀的王熙鳳借錢予窮親戚的例子,教授太太也記得這一幕。

"Words are power tools in Chinese politics. The housekeeper started the conversation by saying that she doesn't like to lend money to poor relatives. This was even before the old lady's request, which made the old lady feel uneasy, and lowered her expectation. In the end the housekeeper agreed to lend a little money to the old lady, which was already enough to make her feel super grateful."

接著也說了元春省親,教授太太仍記得此幕細節,以我英文之爛,一下子忘了怎講concubine,也是她說起我才記得。

"When the emperor's concubine went to see The Family. The Family spent a lot of money to build a beautiful house for her, for just one visit."

"Chinese politics is all about face. This has been true for thousands of years, and is even truer today. You still remember how they organized the Beijing Olympics?"

大興土木,極盡奢華,教授太太當然知道,還說後來英國人看著中國的例子,便知道一定不能如此。

我說,中國的名著其實都是如此貨色,閱讀《三國演義》等也應用同一思路。

"Many people think it's about history, about the great wars between heroes. But if you are able to comprehend the true meaning of the author's words, you would know that it's all about politics and the relationship between rulers and their servants. It's like Machiavelli's 'Il Principe', but in a story mode."

劉備如何在白帝城令諸葛亮腳軟,曹操如何令降將龐德效死,楊修怎樣不懂得老闆下屬相處之道,太艱深了,她沒看過,也就不知從何說起。

我最後說,嫌三國紅樓太艱深的話,可以讀一本淺的,叫《鹿鼎記》,但之前最好去了解一下文革史,才會讀出味道來。

(否則讀到年輕教眾山呼洪教主「仙福永享,壽與天齊」時,便不懂得會心微笑。但這句英文太難翻譯,我便沒有補充。)

我並非文學專家,聊了一整晚,都只能用簡單的英文解說,不過在推廣中國文化,特別是推廣中國人性的陰暗面上,算是應記一功吧。

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

中國人的德性就是一副天下無敵,為我獨尊
然後再加一班奴才配合,戲就如此唱成
btw:說起紅樓夢,不知道elvis有否讀過《再生緣》一書?

小瓶子 said...

「仙福永享,壽與天齊」

The great master live forever....

Elvis said...

《再生緣》, 還沒機會讀

SL said...

其實iliad都係咁,not just about the war, but about human characteristics and behaviour.