Is There a Santa Claus?
圣诞老人真的存在吗?

(选自《英语世界》2015年第12期)

译/张博博

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Dear Editor,
I am eight years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon
115 W. 95th St
亲爱的主编:
我今年八岁了。一些小朋友说世界上并没有圣诞老人。爸爸告诉我:“如果《太阳报》说有,那就真的有。”请您告诉我,世界上真的有圣诞老人吗?
弗吉尼娅•奥汉隆
纽约市西95街115号

In 1897, on the advice of her father, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a short, inquisitive letter to the editor of New York’s since-defunct newspaper, The Sun, in which she sought confirmation of Santa Claus’s existence. The paper’s editor, Francis P. Church, soon replied to Virginia’s letter by way of an editorial, titled “Is There a Santa Claus?”, which went on to become, and in fact remains to this day, the most reprinted English-language editorial in history, and which has since spawned numerous adaptations.
1897年,八岁的弗吉尼娅•奥汉隆在爸爸的建议下,给纽约《太阳报》(现已停刊)时任主编弗朗西斯•P.丘奇写了一封简短的信,询问圣诞老人是否真的存在。这位主编很快以社论的形式回复了弗吉尼娅,社论题为“圣诞老人真的存在吗?”。刊发至今,该文已成为史上重印次数最多的一篇英文社论,并且改编版本众多。

Virginia herself went on to become a teacher and as a result of her innocent question received fan mail for much of her life. She passed away in 1971, aged 81.
长大后,弗吉尼娅成为了一名教师。她在大半生中一直收到热心人的邮件,回复她儿时那个天真无邪的问题。1971年,弗吉尼娅去世,享年81岁。

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VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
亲爱的弗吉尼娅,你的小朋友们说圣诞老人不存在,他们错了。他们已经被质疑一切的时代风气所影响。他们只相信自己眼睛看到的事情,以为自己的小脑袋无法理解的事物绝不存在。所有人,不论是大人还是小孩,才智都有限。在这个浩瀚的宇宙中,与身处其中的无垠世界相比,以掌握全部真理和知识的智慧来衡量,人类的智力只相当于蝼蚁这样的昆虫。

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
是的,弗吉尼娅,世界上真的有圣诞老人。你一定知道,这个世界充满了爱、慷慨和奉献,我们的生活因此而无比美好和欢乐,圣诞老人就和它们一样。啊,如果没有圣诞老人,这个世界将多么令人沮丧!就如同没有你这样的小朋友一样令人沮丧!那样,便没了孩童的天真,没了诗意,没了让我们生有可恋的爱情。除了肤浅的感官之娱外,我们再无欢乐可言。而童年带给这个世界的永恒之光也会彻底消失。

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
不相信圣诞老人的存在!那也别相信小精灵的存在了。或许你可以让爸爸在圣诞夜雇几个人看着所有的烟囱,看看是否能遇到圣诞老人。不过,即便他们没有看到圣诞老人从烟囱里下来,那又能说明什么呢?虽然没人看到他,但也没有事实能证明他不存在。世界上最真实的事物是孩子和大人们都看不到的。你亲眼看到过精灵在草地上跳舞吗?肯定没有,但也没有证据能说明他们不存在。这世上没有看到和不能看到的神奇事物远超出我们的认知和想象。

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, not even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
如果你想弄明白小宝宝的拨浪鼓里是什么在响,大可将其打开一探究竟。但面对遮住未知世界的神秘面纱,我们之中最强大的人,甚至集合史上所有强者的力量,也无法掀开一角。只有信念、诗歌、热爱与爱情可以将其掀开,使我们亲眼见证并描绘此间的大美与荣光。这些都是真实存在的吗?啊,亲爱的弗吉尼娅,世界上没有比这更真实、更永恒的了。

No Santa Claus! Thank GOD! He lives, and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
世界上没有圣诞老人?!谢天谢地!他不仅真实存在,而且将永远存在。从现在开始的一千年后,不,千千万万年以后,他依然会给孩子们的内心带来欢乐。

Francis P. Church, Editor
主编   弗朗西斯•P.丘奇

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