来源 :中华考试网 2021-05-28中
Master of the Intricacies of the Human Heart
By Michiko Kakutani
Oct. 10, 2013
Alice Munro, named on Thursday as the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature, once observed: “The complexity of things — the things within things — just seems to be endless. I mean nothing is easy, nothing is simple.”
爱丽丝·门罗(Alice Munro)于本周四获得2013年诺贝尔文学奖，她曾说过：“事物的复杂性，即蕴含在事物之中的事物，似乎无穷无尽。我的意思是，没有任何事是轻 松简单的。”
That is also a perfect description of Ms. Munro’s quietly radiant short stories — stories that have established her as one of the foremost practitioners of the form. Set largely in small-town and rural Canada and often focused on the lives of girls and women, her tales have the swoop and density of big, intimate novels, mapping the crevices of characters’ hearts with cleareyed Chekhovian empathy and wisdom.
Fluent and deceptively artless on the page, these stories are actually amazingly intricate constructions that move back and forth in time, back and forth between reality and memory, opening out, magically, to disclose the long panoramic vistas in these people’s lives (the starts, stops and reversals that stand out as hinge moments in their personal histories) and the homely details of their day-to-day routines: the dull coping with “food and mess and houses” that can take up so much of their heroines’ time.
Ms. Munro’s stories possess an emotional amplitude and a psychological density that stand in sharp contrast to the minimalistic work of Raymond Carver, and to Donald Barthelme’s playful, postmodernist tales. Her understanding of the music of domestic life, her ability to simultaneously detail her characters’ inner landscapes and their place in a meticulously observed community, and her talent for charting “the progress of love” as it morphs and mutates through time — these gifts have not only helped Ms. Munro redefine the contours of the contemporary short story, but have also made her one of today’s most influential writers, celebrated by authors as disparate as Lorrie Moore, Jonathan Franzen, Deborah Eisenberg and Mona Simpson.
门罗的小说既有情感的广度，亦有心理的深度，与雷蒙德·卡佛(Raymond Carver)的简约风格，乃至唐纳德·巴塞尔姆(Donald Barthelme’s)戏谑的后现代主义故事形成鲜明对比。她深深了解蕴含在家庭生活中的音乐;在描绘笔下人物内心世界细节的同时，无微不至地勾勒出社区的状态，并点出人物在社区中的位置;此外她还擅长书写“爱的进程”，在时间的演进中为爱的变形与变异画出图谱。这些特质令她重新定义了当代短篇小说的外延，也使她成为当今世上最重要的作家之一，洛丽·摩尔(Lorrie Moore)、乔纳森·弗兰岑(Jonathan Franzen)、黛博拉·埃森堡(Edborah Eisenberg)与莫娜·辛普森(Mona Simpson)等风格各异的作家都对她赞不绝口。
In short fiction that spans four and a half decades — beginning with the collection “Dance of the Happy Shades” (1968), through classic volumes like “The Moons of Jupiter” (1982), “The Progress of Love”(1986), “Friend of My Youth”(1990) and “Open Secrets” (1994), up to “Dear Life” (2012), which she has said will be her last — Ms. Munro has given us prismatic portraits of ordinary people that reveal their intelligence, toughness and capacity to dream, as well as their lies, blind spots and lapses of courage and good will. Such descriptions are delivered not with judgmental accountancy, but with the sort of “unsparing unsentimental love” harbored by a close friend or family member.
门罗创作短篇小说已有45年，最早的作品集是1968年的《快乐影子舞》(Dance of the Happy Shades)，其间有《木星的卫星》(The Moons of Jupiter，1982)、《爱的进程》(The Progress of Love, 1986)、《青年时代的朋友》(Friend of My Youth, 1990)和《公开的秘密》(Open Secrets, 1994)等经典小说集，直到2012年的《亲爱的生活》(Dear Life)——她说《亲爱的生活》将是她的最后一本小说集。在这些作品中，门罗为普通人的生活描绘出五光十色的画像，展现他们的智慧、坚韧与梦想的能力，与此同时也有他们的谎言和盲点，乃至勇气和善意的偶尔缺失。她的描写不带评判色彩，只有“不夹偏私，冷静理性的爱”，如同来自亲密的朋友或家庭成员。
There is always an awareness in her fiction of the subjectivity of perception, and the kaleidoscopic permutations that memory can work on reality. In “Friend of My Youth,” the story of a twice-jilted woman named Flora is remembered by a friend, and that friend’s account, in turn, is framed by her daughter’s thoughts on the subject, turning Flora’s sad tale into a kind of Rorschach test for the pair of them.
她的小说也总是清醒地认识到认知能力的主观性，以及记忆对现实的各种丰富多彩的影响。《青年时代的朋友》讲述两次遭人遗弃的芙罗拉在一位朋友心目中的回忆，这位朋友的叙述也受到她女儿对芙罗拉看法的影响，芙罗拉悲哀的故事变成了母女之间的罗夏墨迹心理测验(Rorschach test) 。
Like Ms. Munro, many of the women in these stories grew up in small towns in Canada and, at some point, faced a decision about whether to stay or to leave for the wider world. Their lifetimes often span decades of startling social change — from a time and place when tea parties and white gloves were de rigueur to the days of health food stores and stripper bars.
For that matter, Ms. Munro’s women, much like John Updike’s men, often find themselves caught on the margins of shifting cultural mores and pulled between conflicting imperatives — between rootedness and escape, domesticity and freedom, between tending to familial responsibilities or following the urgent promptings of their own hearts.
The narrator of “Miles City, Montana” craves “a place to hide” from the demands of running a household; she wants to “get busy at my real work, which was a sort of wooing of distant parts of myself,” only to realize, after a swimming pool accident, that her self-preoccupation has endangered her daughter. In “Family Furnishings,” the heroine doesn’t stay home to take care of her ailing mother, but wins a college scholarship, moves away to the big city and sets about becoming a writer.
《蒙大拿迈尔斯城 》(Miles City, Montana)中的叙事者渴望“一个躲藏的地方”，可以逃避持家的义务;她想“忙于我真正的工作，有点像哄好我内心深处冷淡的部分，”但在一次游泳事故之后，她发现她对自我的关注令女儿置身危险境地。在《家居装饰》(Family Furnishings)中，女主人公没有呆在家里照顾生病的母亲，而是获取大学学位，搬到大城市，打算开始写作。
In story after story, passion is the magnet or the motor that drives women’s choices. Love and sex, and marriage and adultery are often mirrors that reveal a Munro heroine’s expectations — her fondest dreams and cruel self-delusions, her sense of independence and need to belong.
Ms. Munro is adept at tracing the many configurations that intimacy can take over the years, showing how it can suffocate a marriage or inject it with a renewed sense of devotion. She shows how sexual ardor can turn into a “tidy pilot flame” and how an impulsive tryst can become a treasured memory, hoarded as a bulwark against the banalities of middle age.
Illness and death frequently intrude upon these stories, and the reader is constantly reminded of the precariousness of life — and the role that luck, chance and reckless, spur-of-the-moment choices can play. Some of Ms. Munro’s characters embrace change as a liberating force that will lift them out of their humdrum routines, or at least satisfy their avid curiosity about life. Others regard it with fearful dismay, worried that they will lose everything they hold dear — or at least everything familiar.
In “A Wilderness Station,” an orphan named Annie marries a gruff frontiersman and after his mysterious death, finds herself in jail for his murder. And in “A Real Life,” a woman who has led a marginal existence, trapping muskrats for their fur in the Ontario countryside, meets a visitor from Australia, begins corresponding with him and after he proposes, moves to Queensland, where she finds herself flying airplanes and shooting crocodiles.
譬如《旷野车站》(A Wilderness Station)讲述孤女安妮嫁给一个性情冷漠的拓荒者，丈夫神秘死亡后，她却莫名其妙地被控谋杀他，进了牢房。《真实生活》(A Real Life)里，一个住在安大略乡村的女人靠捕捉麝鼠贩卖皮毛勉强维生，她遇到一个澳大利亚游客，开始和他通信，后来他向她求婚后，她移居昆士兰，过上了开飞机和猎杀鳄鱼的生活。
Some of Ms. Munro’s more recent tales have exchanged the elliptical narratives she pioneered years ago for a more old-fashioned, stage-managed approach. Compared to her earlier work, many of the stories in “Dear Life” feature tightly plotted — even contrived — narratives and more closure than in the past.
The highlights of that volume were four final entries, which she described as “the first and last — and the closest — things I have to say about my own life,” a comment that cannot help but remind the reader of how closely many of Ms. Munro’s stories have followed the general contours of her life: from a hardscrabble childhood in an Ontario farming community, to early marriage and a move to British Columbia, followed by divorce, a new marriage and a move back to rural Ontario.
In the last paragraph of the last of those semi-autobiographical pieces, Ms. Munro writes, “I did not go home for my mother’s last illness or for her funeral. I had two small children and nobody in Vancouver to leave them with. We could barely have afforded the trip, and my husband had a contempt for formal behavior, but why blame it on him? I felt the same. We say of some things that they can’t be forgiven, or that we will never forgive ourselves. But we do — we do it all the time.”
Writers and artists make quite a few appearances in Munro stories, but storytelling remains important to all her characters, no matter their vocation — in fact, it’s an essential tool for ordering and making sense of their lives. Sometimes, it’s a way of reimagining the past in order to manufacture an identity or mythologize one’s family. Sometimes it’s a way of foregrounding certain events, while smudging over others. Sometimes it’s a way of finding patterns in the chaos of the everyday. And sometimes, as in Ms. Munro’s own wonderful stories, it’s a way of connecting time past, present and future — not in conventional terms of beginnings, middles and ends, but in surprising new ways that leave readers with a renewed appreciation of the endless “complexity of things — the things within things.”
最近几十年来，中国全方位快 速崛起，其巨大影响波及至世界各个角落。全球政治、历史、经济研究的顶 尖人士，纷纷聚焦中国，希望探究这一历史重大事件的深远含义。这个群体不再象前两代那样限于中国通，而是来自各个领域，他们便构成了第三代中国学的主体。
EMERGING TRENDS IN CHINESE STUDIES AND THE ROLE OF THE PARTY
By: Eric X. Li
In the modern era, Chinese studies in the West have gone through two main generations: the generation of the historic school and the generation of the ideological school. Contemporary Western perceptions and understanding of China, in both the academic world and popular press, have been informed by the methods and aims of these two schools.
I would like to suggest that we are at the beginning of a new phase. A third generation is emerging. This new generation is approaching China with new methods and different aims within different contexts. This development has placed the fundamental frameworks of Chinese studies in transition. How this evolves will have decisive impacts on the world’s interpretations of China. As such, the contemporary CCP, the party, as China’s central governing institution, is in a position to exercise significant influence over the future landscape and conditions of Chinese studies and thereby China’s image in the eyes of the world.
First, let’s summarize the past.
The first generation, the historic school, has guided the world’s understanding of China since early 20th century. Its ranks have been filled with illustrious scholars, such as Jonathan Spence and Ezra Vogel. They seek to study modern China in an historical context and thereby better understand the nation’s trajectory. Their methods are deeply cultural. Their studies in China’s politics, historical and social conditions, and the personalities who drove China’s modern history have made significant contributions to the world’s repertoire of knowledge.
The second generation, the ideological school, on the other hand, has proved to be a deeply flawed approach. This school materialized after 1989 in the context of the post Cold War ideological fervor. Historic determinism framed their approach and the entire school was defined by the ideological dichotomy between liberal democracy and authoritarianism. The aim of their studies carried an overtly political and ideological agenda - to prove the Chinese political system is on an inevitable course towards eventual collapse. The methods of their studies are similar to what is called “opposition research” in American political campaigns. This school has been largely discredited by facts on the ground and I suspect their impact on the future will be limited at best.
That was then, and this is now.
The dramatic rise of China in all aspects of its national power in recent decades is impacting every walk of life in just about every corner of the world. As a result, some of the brightest minds in political science, history, and economics are beginning to examine closely what it all really means. Many of them are no longer China experts but generalists. They form the third new generation.
One of the two newly emerging trends in the current generation is the theoretical school. It seeks to use existing theories in political science and international relations, such as constructivism, theory of "rightful resistance", theory of "social solidarity", "audience theory", etc. to analyze and interpret various developments in China. In my personal view, the approaches taken by the theoretical school are not promising. They may fall into the same trap as the ideological school that proceeded them – applying abstract principles to highly specific and incommensurate conditions.
A much more interesting emerging trend is the empirical school. In this approach, the methods center around empirical data and the aim is the objective understanding of Chinese governance in both historic and contemporary contexts. Some of the most notable scholars have begun to undertake this approach, such as Francis Fukuyama on political science, Nicholas Lardy on economics, and Taylor Fravel on international relations. More importantly, perhaps, is that many from the current young generation of scholars are undertaking this approach.
In my view, the emerging empirical school carries the most significant promise in the future. It is the most significant sign that the academic community is shifting beyond ideological judgment and toward empirical analysis. Its heavy emphasis on governance, its focus on specific problems, and its reliance on data are all consistent with what the world needs in both its desire to better understand China and the need to address governance problems elsewhere.
This new generation of Chinese scholarship is attracting some of the best minds in the business. It is happening in the context of two underlying forces. First, the global impact of China’s rise is such that more comprehensive understanding of its governance is urgently needed. Second, a vast number of countries, including America and major European states and many developing nations are encountering unprecedented difficulties in political governance. Everywhere, the post Cold War consensus on political governance is being reassessed. The accomplishments of China, if properly studied, could provide the world with much needed fresh perspectives.
There is, however, a substantial gap that, if not addressed, would greatly limit the potential of this shift. There is too little knowledge and data about the most important institution that is at the center of it all – the party.
The party’s centrality in Chinese governance has been a fact in both principle and practice. Yet, a most peculiar phenomenon in the past decades since the founding of the People’s Republic has been the party’s insistence that it remains behind a state structure that resembles every other modern state in the world.
But everyone knows it is not so. Everyone knows the Chinese model of governance has its own unique characteristics, namely, the party matters the most. Everyone knows the party has a most extraordinarily elaborate system of selecting and promoting officials within the political system. Everyone knows the party operates a highly sophisticated process of decision-making and feedback collection on policies. Yet, so little specifics are made known to the world.
We are at the beginning of a new era. Ideology is receding into the background. In this post-ideological era, governance and problem solving are becoming the most pressing requirements everywhere in the world. It seems the world’s scholastic community is ready and eager to find practical solutions to real world problems.
This new generation of scholars of every social science is finding that China is the big elephant in the room. One cannot produce a credible and full picture of contemporary political governance without considering the Chinese case. Indeed, the Chinese phenomenon is perhaps the most significant experiment in political governance taking place in the world today. Further, one cannot unlock the secret behind the Chinese phenomenon without studying the party. The key resides with the party. All roads lead to the party. Will the party step forward and offer the world a chance to learn? What is the content that could bring about qualitative improvements in not only the understanding of China but political governance in general?
The answers to both are affirmative and encouraging. In its nearly 65 years of governing the People’s Republic, the party has led China from the most debilitated state of existence to an emerging great power. In the 35 years since Deng Xiaoping’s reforms, the party has led the most significant improvements in standard of living for the largest number of people in the shortest period of time in human history. The party’s model of governance is deep and rich and unique. The opening up of the party will expand the entire world’s horizon.
Perhaps today can be the beginning of a new and rewarding period. The party will further open itself to the world. And the world will undertake to study and understand the most important institution that is at the center of the most important phenomenon in political governance of our time.
It is a two-way street. The party needs to come forward and open up. The scholastic community needs to approach the party with an open mind and empirical attitude. Much work remains to be done. But I am hopeful that, a generation from now, this process will have facilitated the building of new bodies of knowledge that would contribute to the entire world’s understanding of political governance. From its standpoint, the party will have an unprecedented opportunity to influence the narrative of modern China for generations to come.
By then, perhaps, we can look back to this day as a historic beginning.