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Of Beauty

Francis Bacon

VIRTUE is like a rich stone, best plain set; and surely virtue is best, in a body that is comely ,though not of delicate features; and that hath rather dignity of presence, than beauty of aspect. Neither is it almost seen, that very beautiful persons are otherwise of great virtue; as if nature were rather busy, not to err, than in labor to produce excellency. And therefore they prove accomplished, but not of great spirit; and study rather behavior, than virtue. But this holds not always: for Augustus Caesar, Titus Vespasianus, Philip le Belle of France, Edward the Fourth of England, Alcibiades of Athens, Ismael the Sophy of Persia, were all high and great spirits; and yet the most beautiful men of their times. In beauty, that of favor, is more than that of color; and that of decent and gracious motion, more than that of favor. That is the best part of beauty, which a picture cannot express; no, nor the first sight of the life. There is no excellent beauty, that hath not some strangeness in the proportion. A man cannot tell whether Apelles, or Albert Durer, were the more trifler; whereof the one, would make a personage by geometrical proportions; the other, by taking the best parts out of divers faces, to make one excellent. Such personages, I think, would please nobody, but the painter that made them. Not but I think a painter may make a better face than ever was; but he must do it by a kind of felicity (as a musician that maketh an excellent air in music), and not by rule. A man shall see faces, that if you examine them part by part, you shall find never a good; and yet altogether do well. If it be true that the principal part of beauty is in decent motion, certainly it is no marvel, though persons in years seem many times more amiable; pulchrorum autumnus pulcher; for no youth can be comely but by pardon, and considering the youth, as to make up the comeliness. Beauty is as summer fruits, which are easy to corrupt, and cannot last; and for the most part it makes a dissolute youth, and an age a little out of countenance; but yet certainly again, if it light well, it maketh virtue shine,and vices blush.

论  美

弗兰西斯·培根/文  颜林海译
 
德如宝石,若置之以质,则其益彰。人之貌者,其美不在精致,怡人则可矣[1];德之至者,重仪态之端庄,而轻貌之华丽[2]。人之貌美兼大德者,几为罕见[3]。此犹造化宁可谬错,勿造上品之故[4]。故俊秀之人重才而轻志,重行而轻德[5]。然事非绝对。罗马大帝奥古斯都、法王腓力普、英王爱德华四世、古雅典将军亚西比德、以及波斯国王伊思迈尔一世,非但胸怀鸿鹄之志,且为至美之俊男。若于美者,貌之清秀胜于色之艳丽;然美之为美者,非尽在貌之清秀,而在仪态之优雅。美之至美者,非图之可描绘,然可乍视能识也[6]。但凡绝美之人,其身材比例皆有异于常人之处[7]。有画家二人,名曰阿贝尔与杜勒。其画人像也,一则按几何比例精工细作,一则取众脸之精华集于一人之身。二者熟更滑稽,未敢有定夺者也[8]。然窃以为,此般画像,唯有画家本人喜好,恐无他人悦焉。余以为,画家之画像,其美虽可超绝尘寰[9],然须有神来之笔,而非循其“规”蹈其“矩”也;作画也,当如乐师之作乐,余音绕梁焉[10]。视人之脸,若逐一细察,则一无是处;若整体而视,则光彩夺目。美之要者,在于举止端庄。既然如此,比之于年少者,年长者更为和蔼可亲,此不足为奇也。拉丁古谚云:“至美者,晚秋之景也。”年少而享美名者,盖鉴于人之宽宏大量,量其年轻,其体可塑之故也。美如夏之果实,易腐而不可持久,常使年少者放荡不拘,年老者愁容满面。然重归论旨,美之于德,若相得益彰,可使德光彩夺目,使恶无地自容也。
 
摘自颜林海《英语美文雅译》
 

[1] 此处features是复数,指人的脸形、容貌,delicate意为精致。Not of…与comely形成让步结构,此小句译为,“人之貌者,其美不在,其美不在精致,怡人则可矣。”
[2]此句其中 presence指人的举止风度;aspect与features同义,指容貌; “hath rather …, than…”意为:与其……毋宁……. 此句翻译时处理成对仗格式:“重仪态之端庄,而轻貌之华丽”
[3] 此句中“Neither is it almost seen that…”是倒装句,其意为:“It is not almost seen either…”译为“几为罕见”,“几”意为“几乎”,其用法见《虞初新志·秋声诗自序》:“几欲先走。” it是形式主语,that clause 为真正主语,翻译时,先译主语从句,译为: “人之貌美兼大德者,几为罕见。”
[4] “as if…”此句实为解释原因,故译为“此犹…”,“犹”之用法,见《墨子?公输》:“此犹文轩之与敝舆。”
[5] 此句与注释2中提及的句型格式相同,翻译方法与注释2相似。
[6] 此句中“In beauty”中的In等同于as for,“that”指beauty;“favor”意为“容貌”。但翻译时that of favor译为“貌之清秀”,“that of color”译为“色彩之艳丽”。“decent and gracious motion”指仪态端庄。
[7] “There is no excellent beauty, that hath not…”为双重否定并带有绝对之含义。故译为含有“绝对”含义的巨型,即“但凡绝美之人……”
[8] “A man cannot tell whether…, or …, were…”意为“人无法区分…或…是否是…”。
[9] Not but=not but that, 意为:尽管,虽然。“better…than ever was”指“前所未有”
[10] 此句中“felicity” 指巧妙得当的语言,此处译为“有神来之笔”;“by rule”与汉语“循规蹈矩”的字面含义完全相同,故翻译时加了引号。“maketh an excellent air in music”指音乐在空中回荡,故译为“余音绕梁焉”