Well, I saw a really alarming newspaper article just a week or so ago
in which it was—some survey had shown
that more than 50 percent of self-identifying Republicans believed
that universities were bad for America,
believed that universities were actually
a negative harmful force in American life.
That was, I mean I’d never, I’d never seen any group of people saying that before, you know,
so that was shocking.
And I do think this is not unique to America, because also in England
there is a similar kind of distrust of expertise.
You know, and, and, you know, in the Brexit vote there—one of the things that came up over and over again
was a dislike of experts “telling you what to think”.
And so somehow this mistrust of “people who know things” has become internationalized.
It’s not just something about the American Right.
And, it’s obviously to somebody who has seen knowledge as being a great virtue,
and who has spent his life trying to accumulate little bits of it,
and somebody who thinks of knowledge as a kind of beauty,
it’s very discomforting to say the least to have people who think of it as being suspicious.
You know, um…
Because what’s happening it seems to me is a strange distortion of the idea of the elite.
If you ask me “What’s an elite?”
I would think more about the many, many billionaires sitting in the Trump administration.
Here’s a government with more super-rich people in it than has ever been in any American government,
and that government calls college professors and journalists elites.
We’re not the ones with private planes and golf courses in the Bahamas—relatively few novelists have these things.
And the idea that we’re the elites, whereas that group,
那些百里挑一 万里挑一的人 却将自己某种程度上视作普罗大众
that kind of 0.1 of the 1 percent that considers itself to be in some way possessing the common touch,
that just seems like an absurd comic inversion of reality.
I think one of the things we see at the moment, and I tried to in a way capture in the novel,
is this idea of a world turned upside down,
在这个世界中 关于现实的那些平庸 务实 可靠的描述每天都在人们的脑海中徘徊
in which things that one thought of as being normal—solid, believable descriptions of reality—are being stood on their head everyday.
The idea of reality itself, the idea of truth is something verifiable and objective,
all these things are being inverted and knocked off their pedestals.
我是说 有一件很可怕的事情 作家们有时会对彼此说
Well, I mean there is a terrible thing which writers sometimes say to each other,
which is, “The worse it is the better it is,”
because when the world is in a terrible condition there’s a lot to write about.
I mean one demonstration of this is the literature, very often underground literature—the Samizdat
literature of the Soviet Union was of an extraordinary quality when there was this colossal adversary
of Soviet authoritarianism.
许多作家 无论是在小说还是非虚构作品中 都被这一危机激发了 并创造了非凡的
Many writers, both in a fiction and nonfiction, rose to that challenge and created extraordinary
And I think it’s not unfair to say that the literature of the post Soviet Union, the
literature of Russia since 1989, that there is a somewhat of a falling off, that it’s
not quite as intense and extraordinary as that earlier work because of the lack of the
To put it in another way it seems to me that spy fiction was enormously damaged by the
loss of the Soviet Union because suddenly, who were the enemy?
所以我确实认为 在这种情况下 这是一种非常对立的问题 在这个问题上
So I do think that in times this, which are very adversarial and in which the question
of the truth has become so central, there’s a big place for art, there’s a really big
role for art to speak up in such a time.
我认为 在美国 我认识的多多少少每一个作家
And I think more or less every writer I know in America is considering how best to respond
to the place we find ourselves, including me.
Most of this book was written before November the 8th, I mean the vast bulk of it was finished
before the election.
我很遗憾地说 我猜对了 也就是说 我一直都知道 如果
And I’m sorry to say that I guessed right, that’s to say that I always knew that if
things had gone another way that there would’ve had to be some reshaping of a part of the
(但实际上 我需要做一点重塑 因为事情并不总是
(But actually anyway I needed to do a bit of reshaping because things don’t always
turn out exactly as you foresee.)
But I wanted to try and capture this strange moment and to tell the truth that part of
the novel is very much background rather than foreground, so the actual storyline of the
book, what happens to the characters and how they resolve their particular dilemmas, that
would not have been altered in any way if the election had gone in another way.
我的意思是 故事是这样的 但是故事的背景
I mean the story is the story, but the context of the story, the way in which America developed
from the beginning of the Obama administration to the present moment, what happened in that
arc of time, that’s the context against which the story takes place.
And there I had to guess and gamble a little bit and then try and fix things right up till
the moment the book went to the presses, so that’s more or less—there’s a moment
when they take your fingers off the keyboard and say “we’re printing the book today,
so you can’t do anymore!”
But until that moment I was trying to fix things.
世界是否回归黑暗时代？| Salman Rushdie