短篇翻译:江河万里

未授权,仅一篇练习。

和《绝望的浪漫主义》相比,《江河万里》感觉更难一些,古诗词与中国文学中常见的隐喻都不好诠释,更糟糕的是,我不确定我理解得特别对,尽管我查了参考资料。依然有些我觉得把握得并不好的段落,有时间会再修改。


原作《江河万里》

作者 恋爱脑与乌托邦



Rivers of Thousands of Miles

 

On a Sunday of the Orthodox Church, when Ming Cheng received a letter from Ming Lou, the night just fell.


The letter, previously passed from person to person, was finally brought to him by a newly enrolled student at the next-door General Staff Academy. The day was calm, rainless, and has low temperature. With an annotated "The Science of Victory" in his arms, Ming Cheng ran hurriedly to the school entrance to pick up the letter and then jogged back to the reference room --- It had been dark, only thirty minutes or less left before the muster for the night training.

 

He opened the letter as he approached the lamplight with a pair of hands so shivering that even could not hold a piece of paper. The paper was thin, on which characters were elongated, well-proportioned, and familiar to Ming Cheng to the marrow. In the letter, Ming Lou told him that he had gone back to Paris and things were too complicated. A poetic line by Gu Yanwu was quoted at the end: "My will to fulfill justice in the light of humanity won't be changed until I die; and the crow won't cease even if wind and rain sweep across the gloomy sky."

 

 

Ming Lou practiced calligraphy in the style of Zhao Mengfu from childhood. He said Zhao's calligraphic style pays particular attention to hiding and showing. At that time, Ming Cheng was just in his teens. Though knowing little about these, he could remember every word of Ming Lou. They were in Shanghai, living in a big house. At the hard-won night that Ming Lou was idle at home, he would take out a writing brush and roll out a piece of paper to create a calligraphic work. Ming Cheng spent his time at Ming Lou's study as well, reading under the brightest floor-lamp that Ming Lou prepared for him. In a long time, none of them made a sound, but the world out of the window.

 

Ming Lou was a person who came across rivers and seas silently. Ming Cheng grew up in that silence from ten years old. In childhood, he could only feel the silence, but as growing up, he saw the rivers and seas.

 

He read the letter through, folded it up and put it into a book. But having thought a while, he took the letter out of the book and then put it into his shirt pocket.

 

 


The Frunze Military Academy is located one mile away from the Neva River. The fragrant odor of the river could be smelled on campus at night in summer but was hard to be aware in winter. He was enrolled in November the year before last and had lived in St. Petersburg for one year, nine months and eleven days. The length of schooling was two years and it was near the end.

 

It should be his longest parting from Ming Lou, so long that he came to realize the longness and accepted the torment brought about by it. Life to Ming Cheng was disciplinary yet easy --- He had well mastered Russian and was a good student with a young body in twenties, robust arms and legs, and a quick mind.

 

But he was tortured mentally.

 

 

As he arrived at St. Petersburg, he wrote three letters to Ming Lou, all of which was gone forever. Among the letters, one was sent to his dwelling place in Paris. Ming Lou bought a two-storey house nearby the Sorbonne. They lived there for more than four years, which made it almost a second home.

 

The second one was sent to Shanghai, addressed to a new-knowledge advocating bookstore Ming Lou used to go. Since their eldest sister did not know how mighty the winds and waves they stirred up were when they were away from home during these years, Ming Cheng did not dare to send a letter home.

 

Another one was sent to the liaison office of the Party in Guangzhou, the place he met Ming Lou for the last time. That day was chaotic. The meeting continued to the midnight, at which time Ming Lou received an order requiring him to go back to France on the next day, while Ming Cheng, together with other three students of the same term, was required to go to the north by water, then to Vladivostok via Shanghai, and finally to St. Petersburg by train.  

 

They found a tea house opened on a ship on the Pearl River, sitting there for hours. Ming Lou lighted up a cigarette for himself and ordered a water chestnut cake for Ming Cheng --- He still deemed Ming Cheng as a growing teenager.

 

Lying across in front of them was a huge change of life and country. Ming Lou looked exhausted, but the expression in his eyes was no different than that when he was practicing calligraphy atstudy seven or eight years ago. He gave Ming Cheng a new pamphlet printing anarticle by Qu Qiubai on reflection on the Guangzhou Uprising in 1927 ---Everyone was discussing it recently. Before leaving, he put a hand on Ming Cheng's head, saying that "we seldom part, but we shall part one day. Take care of yourself."

 

Ming Cheng felt grieved, brave yet grieved.

 



When his mental torture got serious, he would remember things in the past.

 

Ming Lou was fond of being unrestrained, so he let Ming Cheng go without restraints after they arrived in France. He always said, "You will never know the depth of a river if you don't go across it on your own." Gradually, Ming Cheng became increasingly independent. He read a lot and partook in many meetings. From "Diary on Metaphysics" to "Critique of the Gotha Program", he read hastily but had a rough idea about them. The life during those three to four years was vigorous and free, just like the growing of a tree and the running of a horse.  

 

Ming Lou always took Ming Cheng with him when going to other places. During a semester, since they muddled through the beginning and the end, came to school late and left early, they were all absent from many classes. Ming Cheng felt Ming Lou's ambition waslaid in somewhere else, but at that time he barely knew where his ambition was.

 

Ming Cheng once sneaked on a whim into a classroom of the Sorbonne to listen to the economics course Ming Lou was studying. Behind several rows of desks and chairs, he chose a seat directly facing the back of Ming Lou and sat down. Unexpectedly, Ming Lou did not take notes. He just sat in class.

 

Originally, Ming Cheng wanted to have a look at him and then pretended that he never came. However, as a seventeen-to-eighteen-year old Chinese boy, he was too conspicuous to hide himself. As seen by his elder brother, Ming Cheng was grasped calmly by Ming Lou to sit next to him.

 

 

"Next time, I'll run away if you still follow me." Having returned to the dwelling place, Ming Lou took off his coat and sat down on a sofa.

 

Ming Cheng took no notice of him. After all these years, he had been very familiar with Ming Lou's "standard methods". Ming Lou was complacent and commanding while saying the words. Ming Cheng knew that he had better not to respond them, since no matter how heresponded, he would lose.

 

"Silence is another answer." But Ming Lou was composed, not willing to end the conversation.

 

Ming Cheng continued paying no attention to him. He took off his shoes and was about to go upstairs with books in his arms. He intentionally passed by Ming Lou --- As a matter of course, his collar was grasped by his elder brother.

 

"Shall we have a word?"

 

"No."

 

"Communication promotes intersubjective understanding, and in this room, we are subject to each other," Ming Lou said smilingly,"What are you doing recently?"

 

Ming Cheng fulfilled his wish by making Ming Lou grasp him and let him sit next to him.The upper part of Ming Lou's body inclined, ready for a free and sincere talk--- His unique odor enclosed him.

 

In most cases, intimacy is a tacit agreement, which cannot exist without mutualconsent.

 

"I read books." Ming Cheng told the truth.

 

"What books?" Ming Lou took a book out of Ming Cheng's arms. It was Alfred de Vigny's "Ancient and Modern Poems". He browsed the contents and read aloud the titles with great interest, and said,"You are fond of symbolism."

 

Ming Cheng said nothing. This was a subtle moment when they were concentrating onstudying each other without distractions.

 

Fortunately, Ming Lou soon let him off. He rested himself on the sofa again, leaving a room for both of them, while Ming Lou chose a poem and read it aloud.

 

When Ming Lou spoke in France, his voice was deep, soft, moving yet strange.

 

 

 

Ming Cheng barely saw Ming Lou quarreling with others, except once.

 

It was in 1931 when they attended the Salon in Paris, where they encountered the Chinese students of the Poets Society for International Students, who were then discussing Chinese classical poetry under a copy of "Liberty Leading the People". Ming Cheng was fond of poetry, so he stopped to listen to their conversation, and it was rare that Ming Lou did not urge him but stopped as well to listen with him.

 

When the students mentioned "When the toll becomes silent and so do the people, looking on dangerous handrails would onlyresult in the exposure of the whole body", Ming Cheng, with his inherent acutesense of poetry, just felt the words dispirited, feeble and less righteous, though he did not know who wrote it. He became bored and almost lost theinterest as he was unsatisfactory with the poem. He glanced at Ming Lou, who stood aside with folded arms, ordinary facial expression, and a pair of cold eyes.

 

Ming Cheng shook his head to Ming Lou, indicating that he did not want to continue listening.

 

But Ming Lou did not go. He found a chair and sat down on it in the crowd. Ming Cheng called "brother" in a low voice, while Ming Lou paid no attention to it but held one of the wrists of his younger brother, letting him sit next to himself.

 

Soon everyone noticed him. With keen and beautiful eyes, neat and dignified clothes, shiny leather shoes, and a silver watch on a wrist, Ming Lou was so conspicuous that no one would doubt that he's a son of a rich family.

 

"You know who wrote it, don't you?" Ming Lou asked Ming Cheng with a deep yet powerful voice.

 

Though there were many people looking at them, Ming Cheng did not feel flustered. He shook his head, saying that he did not know.

 

Ming Lou smiled scornfully and asked, "Then, do you like it?"

 

Ming Cheng was aware of Ming Lou's implication in these words: His elder brother wanted him to help spoil the gathering.

 

"It lacks righteousness, so I don't like it." Ming Cheng made himself clearly.

 

"They're over-interpreting the poem so as to cater those in power,"Ming Lou stood up and looked down. His eyes narrowed and glanced around,"Wang Zhaoming had been in Paris. He wrote eight classical poems, but none of them is eligible for being appreciated by my younger brother. When you lavish praise on his works, don't you fear for bringing disgrace on this painting?"

 

Aftermany years, though he was able to complete the mission in dangerous situations with ease and skills, Ming Cheng still remembered this matter. It was his first time to have a taste of the incisiveness of Ming Lou. He thought he would be afraid of it. But Ming Lou was holding his wrist with a proper strength under the watchful eyes of the people. His palm was dry and warm, and as comforting as the sunlight in winter.

 

 

  

When Ming Cheng's training at the Frunze Military Academy was ended, it had been the year end in the old calendar of the Orthodox Church. Departing from St. Petersburg,he went through Siberia by train and arrived in Marseilles by air, where Ming Lou was waiting for picking him up. 

 

Having slept a day in the sky tens of millions of miles away from the earth, he finally saw Ming Lou.

 

In a long, gray dust coat, Ming Lou looked a bit thin. Ming Cheng called him brother, and then they hugged each other. At that time, he was as tall as Ming Lou. Ming Lou's bodywas warm, while Ming Cheng's heart was placid --- He was finally beside him. Though the continuous metal torture made his spirit like a piece of iron, beside Ming Lou was ultimately his only way out of the predicament. 

 

As they returned to Paris, it had been the next day evening. When parking the car, inexplicably, Ming Cheng felt that their house had aged a bit as well.

 

They ate soup at dinner, which was cooked by Ming Cheng --- Signorino Ming never cooked, even when holding a welcome dinner, which was unchanged no matter how many years had gone.

 

"Your cooking skill is enhanced. Is this a part of your training?" Ming Lou looked at Ming Cheng while drinking the soup. Ming Cheng looked a bit thin aswell, but he was composed and no longer a child.

 

"It is because you haven't seen me for a long time and thus lower your expectation." Ming Cheng smiled.

 

They had not seen each other for two years, and when looking at each other, they found there were something a bit different.

 

 

 

"Where have you been during these two years?" askedMing Cheng. 


"Many places." answered Ming Lou.

 

"You even didn't reply my letter."

 

Ming Cheng regretted after saying those words, but it was futile to hide them since they had been spoken out. At the other side of the table, Ming Lou smiled as if he had been aware of what his younger brother was thinking, while Ming Cheng lowered his head and drunk the soup.

 

"When it snows, even the rich families in the world will feel cold." Ming Cheng believed that poetic line before, but at this very moment when the warmth of the light hung over his head gradually permeated through his body, he felt the cold air deposited within was driven out.

 

With a spoon held by his fingers, Ming Lou told him the changing situation in the recent two years step by step.

 

"What shall we do next?" asked Ming Cheng. 

 

Suddenly, Ming Lou smiled as if there was a secret kept with him. He looked into Ming Cheng's eyes and said, "Allow me to ask you a question first."

 

 

In the end of 1934, in their old house in Paris, Ming Lou asked Ming Cheng a question. The question was so absurd that after many years he could barely clearly remember what was happened at that time. It should be a question as trenchant as if one could see another one's heart after he demolished his bones and as realistic as if the long accompany was only a dream having started since he was ten. 

 

 

Ming Lou asked Ming Cheng, "In 'the Forth Year of Duke Yin's Reign', there is a story telling that Shi Que killed his son, for he thought his son was a traitor who must have been killed. What do you think?"

 

"Is it a test given by the Party?" Ming Cheng responded after a while as long as if thousands of years had gone.

 

"Of course, it isn't a text, just a question." Ming Lou said smilingly.

 

"I don't have a son."

 

"But you have an elder brother."

 

"I don't want to answer the question."

 

"It's the premise of your next work. Of course, it's just a supposition..."

 

"You still want to sound me out after all." Ming Cheng interrupted him.

 

"No one knows you more than I know," Ming Lou still smiled, "I don't need to sound you out."

 

"It'sa false supposition." Ming Cheng was poker-faced.

 

"You fear to face it."

 

"I fear nothing, including death." Ming Cheng was a bit angry. His mood was difficult to control and his heart was irritable, just likea hedgehog.

 

"Meeting death unflinchingly is not that difficult," Ming Lou said seriously, "But making a choice is difficult and painful, because you have to abandon what you can't abandon...I use the cruelest thing to embarrass you and myself as well, for it's a mental preparation for both ofus."

 

The words were so explicit that Ming Cheng immediately understood what Ming Lou meant. The only thing they could do was to keep silent. 

 

Ming Cheng suddenly recalled that initially when he started livingin the Ming family, though he slept in Ming Lou's room, misgivings andstrangeness made him lie awake all the night. He did not believe in Ming Lou. He treated him with great respect and fear,and his heart was strongly fortified.

 

How did he get here with this man? They entrusted to each other their life and death, weakness, self-awareness, dignity, as well as eros too shy to speak out. 

 

Ming Cheng put down his bowl and stood up to go, but Ming Lou grasped his shoulders quickly and turned him back.

 

Ming Lou used to say that liberty and eros are the same in term of nature, for both of them make man feel pleasure in ardor and pain in conflict. But Ming Cheng felt that pain and pleasure are the same --- He was clamped and pushed to the wall, a cabinet, or any other things by Ming Lou. Such a calm man as Ming Lou had a body as warm as flame and kisses as violent as tempest, which forced Ming Cheng to respond in the same way.

 

 

 

In Chinese lunar calendar, 1936 was a leap year and the thirteenth year of the sixty-yearcircle. In that year, Ming Cheng went back alone to Guangzhou, while the National Government was preparing to move to Chongqing. After he transfered his data in the Party, there was an afternoon left for him. Inexplicably, he thought of that sweet yet a bit bitter water chestnut cake he ate four years ago and then went to the Pearl River. The chaos caused by the war made people homeless. He failed to find that shopopened on the ship.

 

The world of the past was collapsing. Standing on the waterside, Ming Cheng saw the river of thousands of miles. He did not know what would be on the road ahead but he was unflappable. He thought of the words Ming Lou said to him here, "We shallpart one day." At that time, he was unwilling to leave from him, but at this moment he thought "one day" sounded rather pessimistic with a bit of helpless, but it was used intentionally as if he had long prepared.

 

He made a step closer to Ming Lou, but Ming Lou was still indefinite to him. 

 

 

In the next year, Ming Tai came to Paris. He lived in Paris for two months and then went to Tours. Ming Lou got no one to scold, so he sometimes snapped at Ming Cheng in excuse of trifles. Ming Cheng took no noticed of him and usually went out as long as he finished cooking. Having been away from home for years, they still quarreled like this.

 

In the end, Ming Cheng went to Tours and brought Ming Tai back to Paris.

 

On the train back, Ming Tai was bored to study Ming Cheng's wallet. Ming Cheng let him do what he wanted to do. He turned up the collar of his dust coat, reading "The Canon of Ease", a magazine issued on March 5th, the 26th year of the Republic of China, which printed an article called "The Redundant Words" --- Ming Lou read this article but never discussed it with others.

 

Ming Tai found a black-and-white photo in the wallet. In that photo, no one was there, except an old house with a closed door, dusty brick walls, and mistysurroundings.

 

"Where is it? Why have I never seen it?" asked Ming Tai.

 

"It was where I lived before ten years old." answered Ming Cheng calmly. The first poem Ming Lou taught him and let him recite was "Redressing the Slander", a poem powerful, resonating and trenchant as if it could make ghosts unable to escape from being revealed their true features, a poem encouraging him not to hide his past. 

 

"What do you want to do with it since you still keep it?" Ming Tai did not understand, "It's all passed."

 

Ming Cheng did not respond, for he still thought of the words in that article ---"Surmount all the ideas and even the most subtle feelings considered as'other'" --- which were absurd yet sincere.

 

"Brother Ah Cheng..."Suddenly Ming Tai asked him slowly, "Do you feel boring as you live with our eldest brother every day?"

 

Ming Cheng smiled. The smile looked beautiful and gentle, and the gentleness was theanswer.

 

 

 

In winter, 1938, they finally prepared.

 

The II International Children's Home in Monino sent Ming Lou a letter, which was adocument of the Communist International. They destroyed it after they finished reading.

 

Almost in the same time, the Government in Chongqing openly sent a telegram to MingLou's office at the Sorbonne. It was a transfer order covered with anappearance of government document.

 

Finally, they were about to go home.

 

 

 

At that night, while the rain fell heavily in Paris, they sat side by side, talking.  It blew and rained outside, and there was only a lamp inside.

 

"We may never be able to come back." Ming Lou smiled. He had been more than thirty years old. Wrinkles had appeared on the corner of his eyes. 

 

"It doesn't matter." Ming Cheng answered, "Everywhere to me is the same."

 

"It's idealistic and not objective."

 

"I can look on the bright side of things."

 

"It's not always a good thing." Ming Lou smiled.

 

"I become not afraid when I look through things." Ming Cheng made himself clearly.

 

"You are not afraid of hardship and don't seek to live on, right?" Ming Lou asked him.

 

"Yes." Ming Cheng's answer was simple. He was twenty-seven-or-eight-year old with robust body, strong heartbeat, good visual and auditory senses, brave andfearless. It is the best age of a man.

 

 

"Do you remember the question I asked you four years ago?" Ming Lou smiled suddenly.

 

"Yes, I remember." Ming Cheng smiled, "Do you want my answer?"

 

"No. Fuzziness is an inherent virtue of wisdom. It'll be wrong if you say it out." Ming Lou shook his head. He looked at Ming Cheng with a bit of tenderness and frankness, which made him look like his old appearance behind thousands of screens, "Besides, I don't dare to know your answer. It's my timidity."

 

Suddenly, Ming Cheng felt, at that moment he truly understood Ming Lou.

 

 

     

He had long had his answer. He once sorrowed for the answer, like that he compromised on eros, but the answer would be unchanged no matter what ordeal he would endure, and compromise therefore became a piece of iron as firm as his faith. It might be because he had died once eighteen years ago. All the shame and unendurable things about that little child had been blurry in his memory. He had a new appearance, a new body and a new breath and became independent and rational, except that Ming Lou was in his bone and blood.

 

He was his deepest love, his start and terminal, his depravity and salvation, his timidity and bravery, and his shackles and freedom.   

 


 

In1939, they turned back to Shanghai via Hong Kong.

 

On the lonely island of 1939, the curtain of night was hung down. Ming Cheng drove with Ming Lou mile by mile from Japanese-occupied areas to home. He suddenly thought of a poetic line by Du Fu, "The night is as lonely as the moon forever", and felt it probably meant that mountains and rivers would forever be there even if the country was defeated. But the moon was feeble and useless, just like the pendant lamp.

 

It was a lonely and despairing situation, but they had their strengths and would continue moving forward even if there was no hope.

 


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