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文学有什么用? – 译学馆
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文学有什么用?

What is Literature for?

我们通常有一个感觉,某种程度上一些非常著名的地方发生了很多重要的事情
We have a general sense that these sort of places
但文学究竟有什么样的好处那?
are filled with things that are deeply important, but what exactly is literature good for?
为什么我们需要花时间阅读小说或诗歌呢?
Why should we spend our time reading novels or poems
当那时很多大事件正在发生时
when out there, big things are going on.
让我们思考一下文学有益于我们生活的方式。
Let’s have a think about some of the ways literature benefits us..
当然,这看起来很浪费时间,但是文学最终是最节省时间的。
Of course, it looks like it’s wasting time, but literature is ultimately the greatest
因为他直接给我们一系列的情感和事件——这些可能需要花费你
time-saver, for it gives us access to a range of emotions and events that it would take you
一年、十年、百年的时间去直接体验的
years, decades, millenia to try to experience directly.
文学是最伟大的“现实模拟器”,一个可以将你带入无限多场景里的机器,
Literature is the greatest ‘reality simulator’, a machine that puts you through infinitely
而不用你直接亲眼去见证。
more situations than you could ever directly witness.
这让你安全地(这是至关重要的一点)去看如果离婚的话会如何;
It lets you – safely: that’s crucial – see what it’s like to get divorced.
或者杀人和悔恨是什么样子;或者丢掉工作离开沙漠是怎样的;
Or kill someone and feel remorseful. Or chuck in your job and take off to the desert.
或者当领导一个国家时犯了严重的错误会如何。
Or make a terrible mistake while leading your country.
这让你加速了你的时间,为了看清生活从童年到老年的
It lets you speed up time: in order to see the arc of a life from childhood
生命弧线。
to old age
文学给了你通往天堂和无数人卧室的钥匙,
It gives you the keys to the palace, and to countless bedrooms,
让你可以通过对别人生活的评价来评估你自己的生活
so you can assess your life in relation to that of others.
文学向你你介绍了更绝妙的人物:一个罗马将军,一个十一世纪的法国公主,
It introduces you to fascinating people: a Roman general, an 11th century French princess,
一个刚开始一段风流韵事的俄国上流社会的母亲……
a Russian upper class mother just embarking on an affair…
文学带领你跨过大陆
It takes you across continents
和时空
and centuries
文学治好了你的地方习气,几乎在不花一分钱的情况下,将你变成了一个世界公民。
Literature cures you of provincialism and, at almost no cost, turns us into citizens of the world.
文学表演了简单的魔法
literature performs the basic magic
让我们看到别人眼里的事物是怎样的。
of showing us what things look like from someone else’s point of view.
它让我们思考我们的行为可能会对他人的影响,以一种我们否则绝不会想到的方式
It allows us to consider the consequences of our actions on others in a way we otherwise wouldn’t.
并且它向我们展示了人性的善良、慷慨、具有同情心的一面。
And it shows us examples of kindly, generous, sympathetic people
文学典型地站在了人类主流价值体系的对立面,
Literature typically stands opposed to the dominant value system, the one that rewards
而其要求名利双收。
money and power.
作家们,在另一方面,他们让我们知晓对思想和情感要抱有同情心是非常重要的
Writers are on the other side, they make us sympathetic to ideas and feelings that are
却在商业化、重视地位、愤世嫉俗的世界里
of deep importance but that can’t afford airtime in a commercialised, status-conscious
没法开场的思想和体会。
and cynical world.
我们比我们所能承认的要更怪诞。
We are weirder than we’re allowed to admit.
因为我们现实中总是口是心非,言不由衷。
We often can’t say what’s really on our minds.
但在书本里,我们可以找到真实刻画的自我和事情的本原的具体描述,
But in books, we find descriptions of who we genuinely are and what events are actually like,
那些用真诚的,和正常交流所允许的不一样的描述。
described with an honesty quite different from what ordinary conversation allows for.
在一些经典之作中,作者好像总是比我们更懂我们自己。
In the best books it’s as if the writer knows us better than we know ourselves.
他们能找到恰当的词句来描述我们所有内心世界的破碎,离奇及特殊体验。
They find the words to describe the fragile, weird, special experiences of our inner lives:
比如像夏日清晨的阳光的美好;和我们在纷扰中的不安
– the light on a summer morning – the anxiety we felt at the gathering
以及初吻带来的怦然心动;朋友告知他新事业时,我们内心萌发的妒忌;
– the sensations of a first kiss – the envy when a friend told us of their new business
和踏上一辆始发列车上对未来的那种渴望——
– the longing we experienced on the train,
当望向另一个我们不敢攀谈的旅客的侧脸时;
looking at the profile of another passenger we never dare to speak to
作家打开了我们的心灵和思想——还给了我们可以在少些偏执和烦扰的情况下
Writers open our hearts and minds – and give us maps to our own selves so that we can travel
以更真实的方式通向自己的地图
in them more reliably and with less of a feeling of paranoia and persecution.
就像作家爱默生说的那样:在伟大的作者的作品中,我们发现了自己被忽略的想法。
As the writer Emerson remarked: ‘In the works of great writers, we find our own neglected thoughts.’
文学是对浅薄的矫正和友谊的妥协。
Literature is a corrective to the superficiality and compromises of friendship.
书籍即挚友,总在手边,从不忙碌,
Books are our true friends, always to hand, never too busy, giving us unvarnished accounts
毫无粉饰的给予我们事实真相的描述。
of what things are really like.
我们的全部生命,最害怕的事情之一是失败,搞砸了…
All of our lives, one of our greatest fears is of failing, of messing up… of becoming,
成为一个标签标志的“失败者”
as the tabloids put it, a ‘LOSER’.
每天,媒体带我们看失败的故事
Every day, the media takes us into stories of failure
有趣的是,好多文学作品也与失败有关。用这样那样的方式,
Interestingly, a lot of literature is also about failure. In one way or another, a great
很多小说、戏剧和诗歌是关于人们怎么搞砸的
many novels, plays and poems are about people who’ve messed up, people…
那些……错误的跟自己妈妈上床的人,
…who slept with mum by mistake
让自己伴侣失望的人
… who let down their partner
或者在购物狂欢中债台高筑随后死去的人
… or who died after running up some debts on shopping sprees.
如果媒体不得不报道这些,他们会大肆抨击。
If the media got to them, they’d make mincemeat out of them.
但伟大的作品不会厉声评判或像媒体一样单方面报导
But great books don’t judge as harshly or as one-dimensionally as the media.
他们为唤起对英雄的怜悯和对自身的恐惧,基于我们离完全毁掉自己的生活有多么近的全新感受。
They evoke pity for the hero and fear for ourselves based on a new sense of how near we all are to destroying our own lives.
但如果文学真的无所不能,我们或许需要用和现在有点不同的方式对待它。
But if literature can really do all these things, we might need to treat it a bit differently to the way we do now.
我们倾向于把文学看做(供在海滨)消遣、娱乐的东西。
We tend to treat it as a distraction, an entertainment (something for the beach).
但文学远不止于此,它是广义上的真实疗法
But it’s far more than that, it’s really therapy, in the broad sense.
我们应该学着用医生对待医疗工具那样对待文学,
We should learn to treat it as doctors treat their medicines, something we prescribe in
针对一系列疾病和分类的问题开处方可能是最好的
response to a range of ailments and classify according to the problems it might be best
适合访问的方式
suited to addressing.
文学名副其实最重要的一个原因:
Literature deserves its prestige for one reason above all others: because it’s a tool to
因为它是帮助我们活着和死去的一个工具通过更聪明、善良和通情达理一些
help us live and die with a little more wisdom, goodness and sanity.

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