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通识英语导读(一)

锦城学院英语专业的同学们:我今天专门为你们写了一篇《通识英语导读》,很短,稍后以长微博方式发出来。我准备在寒假期间继续为你们自学 English for Self Study 一书写一点《导读》放在我的博客上,以备你们的不时之需。你们同意吗?

菲尔普斯:《书中之乐》导读(English for Self Study, p.189-190)

这篇随笔继承了培根以来英语随笔的风格,娓娓道来,不慌不忙,比较随意,还有些幽默。虽然后来曾在电台广播,但以作者68岁的年龄,语速一定不快,文章固有的风格不会有大的改变,甚至可能因作者的个人语音而得以发挥。

本篇的篇名 The Pleasure of Books(可译为“书的乐趣”、“书中之乐“)当然是指书给人带来的乐趣。我们后面会读到,这乐趣不止是阅读的乐趣,也还有收藏和长久厮守相伴的乐趣。

前面两小段是原编者加的。第一段介绍作者。第二段介绍文章发表时的背景。通常,我们读一篇文章时,都需要弄清文章的作者是谁、他的身份(作家?学者?政治家?)、文章发表的时代或时期,等等。很多时候,一篇文章的意义,常常和它的背景(background)、语境(context)有关。虽然一篇好的文章,其价值并不受时代的限制,但多知道一些相关背景绝不是一件坏事。

当时的背景,是纳粹德国正在焚书——焚的是所有不被纳粹法西斯思想认可的书,而德国大学生充当了这一暴行的帮凶。

文章第一句首先肯定读书是人类最了不起的习惯之一。habit 和 resources 这样放置很有意思,也更能引起联想。如果写成 Reading is one of the greatest habits of mankind 就没有大家风范了。punctiliousness(拘谨)、formality(正规)意在形容借别人的书来读会有种种不便,例如不便在上面划记号(mark it)、不能随意折角(turn down the pages)等等。最后一句是说借来的书终归还是要还给别人。值得注意的是,作者此处,似有含蓄暗示自己的书借出后很少收回的意思。

第二段说,书还是自己的好,并特别强调,书不是拿来炫耀,拿来陈列,而是拿来读的。作者自己的读书习惯,喜欢在书上圈划,还习惯停下来休息时将书摊开或者反扣在桌上(wide open and face down)。在书上做标记做点评好比在林中砍下一块树皮做路标,日后重读时,就像重走以前走过的林中小路,既能回忆起当年头脑中的景色(the intellectual scenery),也仿佛又回到从前的那个自己。这里要特别注意的是,作者所用的比喻,暗示了读书既是求知,也是一种享受,有一种独自在林中旅行跋涉的乐趣,不时都有意想不到的“思想风景”出现。

第三段说,拥有私人财产是人的基本天性,而从年轻时代开始就收藏属于自己的书,更是只有好处没有坏处地培养了这种与生俱来的天性。书是有个性有人格的,与书相处,就像与亲密朋友相处。意识到有这么多朋友就在身边就在眼前(The knowledge that they are there in plain view)很有些令人振奋。一些陌生的来访者往往会问:“这么多书你都读过吗?”而作者随时准备好的一个回答则是:“有些读过两遍。”

作者不是宅男,不是隐士(recluse),也无意得罪生活中的朋友。他只想说明,书作为人的朋友之所以有其不可替代的价值,是因为有血有肉的人终有一死,留下的文字却能够永世长存。Literature is the immortal part of history; it is the best and most enduring part of personality 一句,暗示了活在时间之中的人是易逝的,留存于文字的东西才是永恒的,因为人把自己最好、最有持久生命力的东西都留在了文字里(书本中)。Books are of the people, by the people, for the people 一句套用了林肯(Abraham Lincoln)“民有、民治、民享”的说法,可以算是“用典”,也使文字变得有些逗趣。在作者看来,苏格拉底、莎士比亚、卡莱尔、大仲马、狄更斯、萧伯纳、巴利(《彼得潘》的作者)、高尔斯华绥这些大师,活着的时候你是见不着的,而你身边的朋友常常也有自己的事情,不可能随叫随到。言下之意,还是书作为朋友随时相伴好。最主要的是:你从这些伟人们的书中,能够看到最好的他们。他们的书是专门为你而写的,他们把自己完完全全地敞现给了你(They "laid themselves out,"),你读他们的书,可以一直深入到他们内心最深之处(look into their innermost heart of heart)。

William Lyon Phelps:The Pleasure of Books

William Lyon Phelps (1865-1943) was an American educator, literary critic and author. He served as a professor of English at Yale University from 1901 to 1933. His works include: Advance of the English Novel and Essays on Modern Dramatists. On April 6, 1933, he delivered this speech during a radio broadcast.

His reverence for books was not shared by everyone, especially those in Nazi Germany. On May 10, 1933, Nazis staged an event unseen since the Middle Ages as young German students from universities, formerly regarded as among the finest in the world, gathered in Berlin and other German cities to burn books with "un-German" ideas.

The habit of reading is one of the greatest resources of mankind; and we enjoy reading books that belong to us much more than if they are borrowed. A borrowed book is like a guest in the house; it must be treated with punctiliousness, with a certain considerate formality. You must see that it sustains no damage; it must not suffer while under your roof. You cannot leave it carelessly, you cannot mark it, you cannot turn down the pages, you cannot use it familiarly. And then, some day, although this is seldom done, you really ought to return it.

But your own books belong to you; you treat them with that affectionate intimacy that annihilates formality. Books are for use, not for show; you should own no book that you are afraid to mark up, or afraid to place on the table, wide open and face down. A good reason for marking favorite passages in books is that this practice enables you to remember more easily the significant sayings, to refer to them quickly, and then in later years, it is like visiting a forest where you once blazed a trail. You have the pleasure of going over the old ground, and recalling both the intellectual scenery and your own earlier self.

Everyone should begin collecting a private library in youth; the instinct of private property, which is fundamental in human beings, can here be cultivated with every advantage and no evils. One should have one's own bookshelves, which should not have doors, glass windows, or keys; they should be free and accessible to the hand as well as to the eye. The best of mural decorations is books; they are more varied in color and appearance than any wallpaper, they are more attractive in design, and they have the prime advantage of being separate personalities, so that if you sit alone in the room in the firelight, you are surrounded with intimate friends. The knowledge that they are there in plain view is both stimulating and refreshing. You do not have to read them all. Most of my indoor life is spent in a room containing six thousand books; and I have a stock answer to the invariable question that comes from strangers. "Have you read all of these books?"——"Some of them twice." This reply is both true and unexpected.

There are of course no friends like living, breathing, corporeal men and women; my devotion to reading has never made me a recluse. How could it? Books are of the people, by the people, for the people. Literature is the immortal part of history; it is the best and most enduring part of personality. But book-friends have this advantage over living friends; you can enjoy the most truly aristocratic society in the world whenever you want it. The great dead are beyond our physical reach, and the great living are usually almost as inaccessible; as for our personal friends and acquaintances, we cannot always see them. Perchance they are asleep, or away on a journey. But in a private library, you can at any moment converse with Socrates or Shakespeare or Carlyle or Dumas or Dickens or Shaw or Barrie or Galsworthy. And there is no doubt that in these books you see these men at their best. They wrote for you. They "laid themselves out," they did their ultimate best to entertain you, to make a favorable impression. You are necessary to them as an audience is to an actor; only instead of seeing them masked, you look into their innermost heart of heart.

原文地址:http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_53f9cb8e01017z2v.html