双语 · 有声︱作家为何对跑步情有独钟?

双语 · 有声︱作家为何对跑步情有独钟?
2019年02月18日 12:00 新浪网 作者 新东方英语官方微博

From Homer's The Iliad to A. E. Housman's poem about an athlete dying young, there's no shortage of literary depictions of running. "Move, as the limbs / Of a runner do," writes W. H. Auden. "In orbit go / Round an endless track." There's also a long tradition of writers leaving their pens or screens behind to stride along roads, tracks, and trails. Jonathan Swift, according to Samuel Johnson, would "run half a mile up and down a hill every two hours" during his 20s. Louisa May Alcott ran since her youth: "I always thought I must have been a deer or a horse in some former state," she wrote in her journal, "because it was such a joy to run." Despite this correlation, The New Yorker's Kathryn Schulz recently lamented how few books capture the mindset of the runner in descriptive terms, citing Thomas Gardner's new collection of essays Poverty Creek Journal as the best exception.

从荷马的史诗《伊利亚特》到A. E. 豪斯曼描写一位运动员英年早逝的诗歌,文学作品中从不缺乏对跑步的描述。诗人W. H. 奥登这样写道:“动起来,如跑步者/摆动四肢/沿着无尽的跑道/一圈圈奔跑。”作家们也常常扔下钢笔,或者离开电脑屏幕,奔跑在大大小小的路上,这种传统由来已久。塞缪尔·约翰逊曾说,乔纳森·斯威夫特20多岁时“每两个小时就要沿着一座小山上上下下跑半英里”。路易莎·梅·奥尔科特从年轻时就开始跑步。“我总觉得自己上辈子就是一只小鹿或者一匹马,”她在日记中写道,“因为我跑起步来是那样快乐。”尽管文学与跑步的缘分如此之深,《纽约客》撰稿人凯瑟琳·舒尔茨最近却撰文遗憾地称,能够以描述性语言准确捕捉到跑步者心境的书籍真是太少了。不过,她特别提到了托马斯·加德纳的新散文集《贫溪日记》,认为他写得最好,是个例外。

Freedom, consciousness, and wildness: Running offers writers escape with purpose. When confronted with "structural problems" in her writing as the result of a "long, snarled (纠结的,混乱的), frustrating and sometimes despairing morning of work," Joyce Carol Oates would ease her writing blocks with afternoon runs. For Oates and many other writers, running is process and proves especially useful for the type of cloistered (隐居的), intensive work they do. But in many ways running is a natural extension of writing. The steady accumulation of miles mirrors the accumulation of pages, and both forms of regimented exertion can yield a sense of completion and joy. Through running, writers deepen their ability to focus on a single, engrossing (使人全神贯注的) task and enter a new state of mind entirely—word after word, mile after mile.

自由、自觉、野趣——跑步能使作家从写作中解脱出来,有目的地放松自己。美国女作家乔伊斯·卡罗尔·奥茨在写作时会遇到一些“结构性问题”,因为她“在漫长的上午工作时往往会感到思路混乱,觉得特别受挫,有时甚至绝望”,每当此时,她就会在下午选择跑步,以此扫除写作的障碍。对于奥茨和其他许多作家来说,跑步是一个加工过程,对于写作这种需要独处的高强度工作来说尤其有用。但在很大程度上,跑步是写作的自然延伸。一步步跑下去,可成千里之行;一页页写下去,可成鸿篇巨制——这两者何其相似。这两种努力积累起来都可产生一种成就感,也是快乐之源。通过跑步,作家可磨练自己,使自己专注于一项单一、有趣的工作,一字字地写,一步步地跑,进入一种全新的境界。

While on sabbatical (休假) in London in 1972, a homesick Oates began running "compulsively; not as a respite (暂缓) for the intensity of writing but as a function of writing." At the same time, she began keeping a journal that ultimately exceeded 4,000 single-spaced, typewritten pages. "Running seems to allow me, ideally, an expanded consciousness in which I can envision what I'm writing as a film or a dream," she wrote. Oates still runs along "a country road that goes up a hill" where she feels "there will be ideas waiting for me ... If I just sat in a room it wouldn't be the same thing." Don DeLillo also relished the transporting (使欣喜若狂) effects of running after his morning writing sessions: "This helps me shake off one world and enter another. Trees, birds, drizzle—it's a nice kind of interlude (插曲)."

1972年,奥茨在伦敦休假时思乡心切,开始“强迫性地”跑步,“不是因为高强度的写作需要休息,而是为了促进写作”。同时,她开始写日记,最后以单倍行距打印出来时,竟长达4000多页。她这样写道:“跑步似乎使我达到一种完美的状态,放大了我的意识,使我能够看到自己要写的东西,就像在看电影或者做梦一样。”至今,奥茨仍在“沿着一条通往山上的乡间小路”跑步,她感到“那里有灵感在等着我……如果我只是在房间里待着,那就不会是这个样子了”。美国当代小说家唐·德里罗在经过一上午的创作之后,也喜欢享受跑步带来的令人愉悦的感受:“跑步使我摆脱了原有的世界,进入到另一个全新的世界。有树,有鸟,还有毛毛细雨——真是一段令人愉悦的插曲。”

Whether their reasoning is practical or spiritual, many writers run with ritualistic devotion. The short-story writer Andre Dubus "ran for the joy and catharsis (感情宣泄) of it," but like Oates and DeLillo, his running was also deliberately timed. Dubus kept a log book that detailed his daily exercise output and writing word count. His method came from an interpretation of Ernest Hemingway's dictum to stop a story mid-sentence, perform physical exercise, and then return to the work the next day.

无论是出于实用主义还是精神追求,许多作家在跑步时都带着一种宗教仪式般的虔诚。短篇小说作家安德烈·杜伯斯“为了追求快乐、宣泄情绪而跑步”,但他也和奥茨与德里罗一样,有意识地规划自己跑步的时间。杜伯斯在日志里详细记录了自己每天的锻炼成果和创作字数。他的这种方法是受了欧内斯特·海明威一句名言的启发,那就是在一个故事写到中间时停下来,进行体育锻炼,然后第二天再继续创作。

Why do writers so often love to run? Running affords the freedom of distance, coupled with the literary appeal of solitude. There's a meditative cadence (节律) to the union of measured (有节奏的) breaths and metered strides. Writers and runners both operate on linear planes, and the running writer soon realizes the relationship between art and sport is a mutually beneficial one. The novelist Haruki Murakami, a former Tokyo jazz-bar manager who would smoke 60 cigarettes a day, started running to get healthy and lose weight. His third novel had just been published, but he felt his "real existence as a serious writer [began] on the day that I first went jogging." Continual running gave him the certainty that he could "make it to the finishing line."

为什么作家如此热衷于跑步?跑步给人以空间的自由,还有文人墨客喜爱的孤寂感。匀称的呼吸,律动的步伐——二者的结合形成一种特别适合沉思的韵律。作家与跑步者都是在线性的平面上活动,而奔跑中的作家很快就能体会到艺术与运动之间存在一种相互促进的关系。日本小说家村上春树曾经做过东京一家爵士乐吧的经理,每天要抽60支烟,为了健康和减肥,他开始跑步。他觉得他“作为一个严肃作家,真正的生命是从我第一次跑步时开始的”,而说这话之前他的第三部小说都已经出版了。持之以恒的跑步锻炼使他坚信他能够“跑到终点”。

Murakami's sentiment reminds me of the LSD—long, slow distance—of my college track days. My coach sent us on long afternoon runs without prescribed routes, simply giving us the directive of time. Once I built a tolerance for distance my runs became incubators for writing ideas. The steady, repetitive movement of distance running triggers one's intellectual autopilot (潜意识的行为状态), freeing room for creative thought. Neuroscientists describe this experience as a feeling of timelessness, where attention drifts and imagination thrives.

村上春树的感慨让我想起了大学里在跑道上度过的那些日子——我的慢速长跑。教练常常打发我们下午进行长跑,也不规定具体路线,只是在时间上做一些要求。一旦我锻炼出长跑的耐力,跑步就成了写作灵感的孵化器。长跑中那稳定而又不停重复的动作往往能激发起人在智力上的自发放任状态,为创造性思维释放自由空间。神经医学科学家将这种经历描述成一种时间停滞的感觉,注意力开始神游,想象力爆发。

Oates enjoyed this mental freedom and "special solitude" while running during her youth. She went through orchards, "through fields of wind-rustling corn towering over my head, along farmers' lanes and on bluffs (悬崖,峭壁) ... These activities are intimately bound up with storytelling, for always there's a ghost-self, a 'fictitious' self, in such settings. For this reason I believe that any form of art is a species of exploration and transgression (超越)." Exertion frees this fictitious, creative other, enabling the mind of writers who run to wander without inhibition. Writers tap into this ghost-self whenever they construct narratives and characters; writers who run have the benefit of a first draft on foot.

年轻的时候,奥茨非常享受跑步时这种无拘无束的精神状态和“别样的孤寂”。她穿过果园,“穿过玉米地——微风吹过,玉米叶儿在头顶沙沙作响——穿过田间小径,沿着悬崖峭壁……这些都与小说创作息息相关,因为在这些场景中,总有一个自我的影子,一个‘虚拟的’自我。鉴于此,我相信,任何艺术形式都是一种探索和超越”。运动释放出这个虚拟的、富有创造力的自我,促使跑步的作家能够神思飞扬、无拘无束。每当作家们创作故事和人物时,他们都会探索这个自我的影子;跑步的作家的优势就在于可以用脚来起草第一稿。

"One of the luckiest things that can happen to a writer," Reynolds Price notes, "is the gradual acquisition of the sense that one is doing it just for the sake of doing it, that it's become a kind of lonely long-distance running which nonetheless has its own huge rewards." Price is correct that this acquisition is gradual. The former United States Poet Laureate Kay Ryan captures the complicated feelings of both writers and runners: "I like to run. Actually, I don't really like to run but I've done it for a million years.”

美国小说家雷诺兹·普莱斯说:“一个作家所能遇到的最幸运的事就是逐渐意识到,创作就是为了创作本身,犹如孤独的长跑,本身就拥有巨大的回报。”普莱斯认为这种领悟是逐渐获得的,可谓一语中的。美国前桂冠诗人凯·瑞恩准确地捕捉到作家和跑步者的这种复杂情感:“我喜欢跑步。事实上,我并不太喜欢跑步,但我好像已经跑了一百万年。”

Writers, like runners, often like the idea of their pursuit more so than the difficult work. The appeal of a running regimen (养生之道) is how the miles not only condition the body, but free up a space for the creative mind. Which is perhaps why some writers, like Malcolm Gladwell, find themselves returning to running after a long absence. Gladwell, who recently completed the Fifth Avenue Mile in New York City in 5:03 minutes, sees the utilitarian impact running has on his projects: "I very explicitly use this time to work out writing problems."

作家和跑步者一样,往往都喜欢追寻的感觉,而不是费力的劳作。跑步作为一种养生之道,其魅力就在于,它不仅能强身健体,而且能为创造性思维提供任意驰骋的空间。或许这就是为什么有些作家喜欢在长时间停跑之后选择回归跑步,比如马尔科姆·格拉德威尔。格拉德威尔最近刚刚以五分零三秒的成绩完成了在纽约第五大道举行的一英里路跑,他深刻体会到了跑步对创作的促进作用:“我非常明确地利用跑步时间来解决写作中遇到的问题。”

After my college running days ended, I chose sprints over distance, gained some pounds, and looked more like a fullback (后卫) than a half-miler. Yet I missed those long, aimless runs, when the act of running was one of discovery, not dictated by the set distance of a track. I now run down open rural roads, and, against good sense, straddle (跨立于) the center yellow lines that yarn to the horizon. Since I've returned to distance running, I've changed the way I think about writing. Writing exists in that odd mental space between imagination and intellect, between the organic and the planned. Runners must learn to accept the same paradoxes, to realize that each individual run has its own narrative, with twists and turns and strains.

大学里跑步的那段日子结束后,我就放弃了长跑,选择了快速短跑,结果体重增加了好几磅,看起来再也不像一个半英里赛运动员,而像一个足球后卫。然而,我还是怀念那段可以漫无目的地长跑的日子,不受跑道固定距离的限制,奔跑的过程也是发现的过程。如今,我奔跑在空旷的乡村道路上,道路中间的黄线无限延伸,一直通到天的尽头,而我就任性地骑着线跑。自从我重新开始长跑,我改变了自己对创作的看法。创作存在于一种奇特的思维空间里,既要驰骋想象,又要发挥才智,既要师法自然,又要细心筹划。跑步者也要学会接受同样的悖论,要明白每一次跑步都是一个独特的叙事,迂回曲折的道路犹如情节曲径通幽,拉伸绷紧的肌肉犹如紧张刺激的叙事格调。(译注:此处twists and turns and strains具有双关含义,既可以指跑步,又可以指创作,strains既可以指绷紧拉伸,又可以指作品的情调、笔调等。)

Writers and runners use the same phrase—“hit my stride (逐渐进入状态)”—to describe the moment when exertion and work become joy. Writers stuck on a sentence should lace their sneakers and go for a jog, knowing that when they return, they will be a bit sweatier, more tired, but often more charged to run with their words.

作家和跑步者在感受到努力和工作带来的快乐时,都会不约而同地说:“终于上路喽!”作家在写不下去时,应该穿上运动鞋,出去跑跑步,这样在他们回来时,尽管会汗流浃背,疲惫不堪,但却能更加精神抖擞地继续他们与文字的赛跑。

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