读完钱钟书先生的英文书信,方知大师风范名不虚传!

原标题:读完钱钟书先生的英文书信,方知大师风范名不虚传!

钱钟书是博通古今中外的大学问家,你一定记得他的小说代表作《围城》,其实先生不是只有国文好,其英文写作更是堪称一绝。

钱钟书19岁被清华大学外文系录取,入读不久便“名震校园”,他的数学只考了15分,但是国文和英文都达到了让老师叹为观止的水平,其中英文更是考到了不可思议的满分。

为了让大家领略一下大师的风采,以下分享先生写的一封英文书信,文字典雅,幽默风趣,用词考究,简直都能做篇精读课文了!

这封信是钱钟书1938年从巴黎写给外国友人司徒亚的,后者是他在牛津大学的同院同学。

「 注:1935年,25岁的钱钟书以第一名的成绩87.95分——此为历届中美和中英庚款平均分最高,考取英国庚子赔款公费留学生,赴英国牛津大学艾克赛特学院英文系留学,与杨绛同船赴英。1937年钱钟书随妻子杨绛赴法国巴黎大学从事研究。女儿钱瑗出生。」

年轻时的钱钟书和杨绛

My Dear Stuart,亲爱的司徒亚,

We are overjoyed at your generously long letter. We have been rather worried about you since your reticent Xmas card from Spain. 收到你这封慷慨的长信,我们真是喜出望外。上次你从西班牙寄来的圣诞贺卡语焉未详,害得我们心里一直忐忑不安。

We thought that your indignation(愤怒) at the Fascist(法西斯主义者) terrors might have made you join the Spanish Republican army on leaving Oxford. In that case, the world would certainly gain a hero, but we might (O horrible thought!) lose a friend. You can imagine our relief to hear from you again.我们以为,由于你对法西斯的恐怖行径出离愤怒,或许会在牛津毕业后投入到西班牙共和军的队伍中。那样的话,世界会多一位英雄,而我们或许会(啊,多可怕的想法!)失去一位朋友。我们收到你的信时的宽慰你可想而知了。

We are very, very sorry indeed to hear about your viva. We do hope that it will not be prejudicial to your chances of getting a job. As your favorite Walter Raleigh used to say, Oxford final schools and the Last Judgement are two examinations, not one. You are quite right to take the whole thing lightly.关于你大学口语入学口试的事,我们感到十分遗憾。真希望它不会影响你找工作。正如你的Walter Raleigh曾说的,牛津的毕业考试不等于末日审判,它们是两种考试。你不把这事放在心上是对的。

We shall be here for another four or five months yet. My scholarship expires this August, and we shall sail home in September. Not that we have homes to return to! Our houses, spared by the shell-fire, have been looted and gutted (洗劫一空)of all their valuable contents. Our respective families have taken refuge in mountains honeycombed(充满) with bandits(土匪). 我们在这还要待四五个月。我的奖学金在八月到期,九月份我们将坐船回家。可不是因为我们有家可归!我们的房子虽免于战火,但值钱的家当被洗劫一空。我们俩各自的家庭也都在满是土匪的山上寻求避难之处。

My wife lost her mother, and I myself have no prospect whatsoever of getting decent jobs in China. Still, one's lot is with one's own people; I don't mind roughing it a bit. The revolution of the Fortune's wheel might bring us up, and, as Goethe was fond of saying, abwarten Sie. You see, I spare my own patriotic heroics.我的妻子失去了她的母亲,我对自己在中国找到体面的工作也不抱任何希望。但个人的命运是和民族的命运连在一起的。我并不介意生活得艰苦一些。会时来运转的,像歌德常说的abwarten Sie(德语,等待吧)。你看,我就不说那些爱国主义豪言壮语了。

Yes, my clairvoyant(有远见的) Stuart, I have been working entirely on my own. I have tried to read French literature systematically downwards, beginning with Villon, and already got as far as the mid-nineteenth century. I have also laboriously tackled the German romantics. I am reading Taine's novel Graindorge and Novalis's Fragmente. Besides, I have not neglected my English and Chinese studies. I am reading——no, I am not going to tell you my readingdebauches(堕落). This paragraph reads already like a snippet(片段)from that model letter of a schoolboy to his parents ("or parent according to circumstances") in Anstey's Vice Versa.得承认,你很有远见。我目前完全在自学。我在系统地用心读法国文学,从维龙开始,已经读到十九世纪中期。我也在费力地啃一些德国小说。我在读泰纳的 Graindorge和诺瓦利斯的《哲学片段》。此外,我也并未荒废英语和汉语的学习。我还在看——不,我还是不告诉你我读的其它那些“堕落”的书目了。这段文字读来已然像是摘自Anstey的Vice Versa《父亲的教训》中小学生给父母的(或其中之一的,视情况而定)范例书信了。

The baby is burstingly fat. She already boasts of six teeth (each tooth meaing a week or so of worries and sleeplessness on her part as well our own). She is very naughty and mutinous(叛逆) and self-willed(任性), altogether an ugly customer to deal with. She will be able to walk a little next month.小宝宝胖得要爆了。她已经了不起地有六颗牙了(每颗牙都代表我们和她一个星期左右的忧虑和失眠)。她淘气,叛逆,任性,整个一个难伺候的主。下个月她就会走路了。

You are a disquieting feller, my dear Stuart. You always give me the impression of some impending catastrophe. Why this sudden "treachery(背叛)" to your "former interests"? You seem to have a "gout trop facilement degoute". Your mind seems to slough(脱皮) its idea as frequently as the snakes their skins. No doubt you will call me smug(书呆子)and incorrigible(不可救药的). Do keep me abreast of your lastest developments.亲爱的Stuart,,你是个不让人放心的家伙。你总给人一种大难临头的感觉。这次你对“旧的爱好”的“叛变”是怎么回事?仿佛你有种gout trop facilement degoute(法语,有种爱改变口味的习惯),你摆脱旧想法的频率犹如蛇蜕皮。无怪乎你称我是不可一世又不可救药。请务必要让我知道你的最新进展。

My wife sends you her best wishes, to which I say ditto. Write to me at your earliest convenience.

我妻子与我一并奉上最美好的祝愿。期待你早日来信。

Yours ever,你永远的,Chung-shu Tchi'ien钱锺书

P.S. My wife wants me to tell you that the baby is really "her father's daughter". She loves nothing so much as books——to tear and nibble at, certainly not to read. She has already destroyed a German primer, not to mention innumberable tradesmen's circulars and booklets. She throws away her toys to grab at the books we happen to be reading.又:妻子让我告诉你,小宝宝颇有“其父之风”,最爱的就是书——撕或咬,绝不是为了读。她已毁掉一本德语入门书,更不要说不可计数的商家传单和手册。当我们读书时,她常扔掉手上的玩具,来抓我们的书。

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