书评︱《生命不息》:如有来生

书评︱《生命不息》:如有来生
2019年09月14日 12:00 新浪网 作者 新东方英语官方微博

凯特·阿特金森(Kate Atkinson),英国当代女作家,1951年生于约克,1974年获得邓迪大学文学硕士学位,毕业后曾做过家务工、秘书、教师等工作,现居爱丁堡。1995年,阿特金森发表长篇小说处女作《博物馆的幕后》(Behind the Scenes at the Museum),获得英国惠特布莱德图书奖,此后又相继出版了小说《真人槌球》(Human Croquet)、《怪诞的情感》(Emotionally Weird)以及短篇小说集《世界末日还没到》(Not the End of the World)。2004年开始,她的侦探小说系列《尘封旧案》(Case Histories)、《善意恶行》(One Good Turn)、《何时会有好消息?》(When Will There Be Good News? )和《带着小狗,早早出发》(Started Early, Took My Dog)相继出版。其中《何时会有好消息?》获得英国国家图书奖,《尘封旧案》则由BBC改编成热门剧集。2013年,阿特金森的长篇小说《生命不息》(Life After Life)问世,受到评论界和读者的赞誉,并获得南岸天空艺术奖、科斯塔图书奖等。2014年,《生命不息》的姐妹篇《生命不息·归来》(A God in Ruins)出版。阿特金森的小说充满睿智的思考和对人类情感的深切体验,文笔娴熟有力,人物刻画和心理描写尤为动人。

中文赏析

如果生命可以重新来过,你选择怎样生活?如果可以选择,你怎能确定等待你的下一次生命不是悲苦的深渊?如果身处深渊,你又是否能够一跃而起?如果……

《生命不息》为我们呈现了许多种“如果”的答案。小说断断续续、重重叠叠地讲述了20世纪一位名叫厄苏拉的英国女性不断重生的故事。1910年2月11日,厄苏拉刚出生就窒息而死,时间旋即回到生命原点。下一次生命中,厄苏拉得以顺利出生,但从光明到黑暗的距离似乎永远无法预知,“一个人在一睁眼、一失足间,就能失去一切”,死神将在每一次生命的某个岔路口等待着厄苏拉。

厄苏拉4岁时会被大海吞噬,5岁时将从屋顶坠地而死,8岁时她传染上致命的流感,22岁时将被丈夫虐打致死。随后的第二次世界大战将更多人卷入死亡的深渊,德军的炸弹把厄苏拉埋葬在废墟之下。换一种活法是否能从战争中幸免于难呢?下一场轮回中,35岁的厄苏拉在德国结婚生子,并成为希特勒情人的女伴,然而伴随着苏军的坦克驶进柏林,生命被饥饿、疲惫和绝望操控,厄苏拉最终还是和女儿一起服药自杀。但被死神逼入死角的厄苏拉即将触底反击,命运的轮盘开始发生改变。

下一次生命中,厄苏拉加入了伦敦志愿救援队伍。一场又一场的轰炸让那些似乎无足轻重的生命如石块般在空中四散,而厄苏拉将在炮火和废墟中穿行,为了救助这些生命而四处奔走。她就这样顽强挺过了二战,战后的大萧条也未能伤害她分毫。57岁时,战争在那些空喊“和平”口号的年轻人眼中已经虚幻得不再真实,但二战带来的冲突却仍在继续,厄苏拉即将退休,终身未婚的她似乎已经了无牵挂,她将躺在公园的躺椅上,安静逝去。

然而,是否还有未竟之事?

《圣经·新约》里的《哥林多前书》的语句再一次被吟诵:“我若有先知讲道之能,也明白各样的奥秘、各样的知识,而且有全备的信,叫我能够移山,却没有爱,我就算不得什么。”在跨越了两次世界大战的几十年间,厄苏拉在死神的魔掌间奔走,个体生命在意外、家暴、战争中无可遁逃,同时她还不得不面临着家人、爱人、朋友和更多无辜生命的消逝。二战期间,厄苏拉的父亲休因心脏病突发去世,弟弟泰迪在执行飞行任务时身亡,母亲希尔维因无法承受丧子之痛而自杀,数千万人如草芥般被战争蹂躏。厄苏拉在轮回中成长,也在时光中逐渐体会死生轮回的悲痛。在半个多世纪的磨难中,人类命运的悲惨与创痛清晰地呈现在厄苏拉面前。是无数次从死神手中寻求生的可能,还是冒险挺身向前扼住死神的咽喉,为苍生的命运而奋力一搏?在人类的苦难和黑暗中颠簸轮回之后,厄苏拉最终被爱铸造成了一位勇士。

厄苏拉如同黑夜中的一道闪电,从深渊中一跃而起。那无数次被死神玩弄于股掌的生死轮回都不过是生命的演习,在这一次的生命中,厄苏拉躲过了大海、流感、怀孕、流产,那个虚伪残暴的男人也没有成为她的丈夫;她选择了学习现代德语而不是古拉丁语,加入了射击俱乐部;她将走在德国阿马林大街上,推开霍夫曼摄影店的门,认识一位叫伊娃的女孩,这个女孩是希特勒的情人,也将成为她的朋友。她缩起脖子生活,小心翼翼地躲过每一次死神的眷顾,只为最后推开咖啡馆的门,来到希特勒面前——那场将夺去无数人生命的战争需要在未开始前终结。厄苏拉冷静地掏出手枪,四下的手枪纷纷对准了她,她坚定地向希特勒扣动了扳机。

在看了《大话西游》《土拨鼠之日》《时间旅行者的妻子》《忽然七日》等诸多电影、小说之后,我们对文学艺术作品中的时空穿越叙事或许不再感觉新鲜。在这些作品中,传统的时空观被打破,时间如同音符般灵动起来,主人公可以穿越时空,或去赢得爱人,或去挽救生活,情节叙事往往细碎而温暖。但是,《生命不息》这部小说却将视角投向家庭、战争和人类命运。尤其是在对第二次世界大战的叙述中,作者巧妙地以细致入微的个体经验勾勒出其复杂的社会背景,同时生动刻画了人们在城市废墟和炮火中的艰难生活景象。小说如同贝多芬第三交响曲般,基调悲壮沉重,主人公在命运中回旋,却始终涌动着趋向光明的强大力量。

作为儿童、妻子、母亲、传染病患者、战争难民以及烈士家属,小说的主人公厄苏拉是无法避免偶然灾祸的脆弱人类中的一员,遭受了20世纪人类曾遭受的诸多苦难。厄苏拉“既是持矛的武士,又是那银晃晃的矛本身。是夜的深处闪着寒光的宝剑,是刺穿黑暗的长枪”。她一次又一次重返生命,是为了挽救所爱之人的生命,为了挽救更多人的生命。她在黑暗与光明的交替中不断练习,在重生中成长,在时间的羊皮书上书写又擦去,直至命运的轮盘终于圆满的那一刻,她以爱之名挺身与死神相搏。刺杀希特勒这一情节表面上看既天真又荒诞,但作者以之完成了一种仪式性的告慰死者的祭奠。小说体现出对人类悲苦的深切体认和无限告慰,它召唤着那些死于家庭暴力、战火纷争中的无数生灵,而同时,它又以一种坚韧绵柔的勇气赐予人们永远仰望光明的力量。

英文节选

Excerpts1)

December 30, 1930

URSULA KNEW ALL about Eva. She knew how much she liked fashion and make-up and gossip. She knew that she could skate and ski and loved to dance. And so Ursula lingered over the expensive frocks2) in Oberpollinger3) with her before visiting a café for coffee and cake, or an ice-cream in the Englischer Garten4) where they would sit and watch the children on the carousel5). She went to the skating rink with Eva and her sister Gretl. She was invited to dinner at the Brauns’ table. “Your English friend is very nice,” Frau Braun told Eva.

Eva loved to be photographed and Ursula took many, many photographs of her on her box Brownie and then they spent their evenings sticking them in albums and admiring the different poses that Eva had struck. “You should be in films,” Ursula told Eva and she was ridiculously flattered. Ursula had mugged up6) on celebrities, Hollywood and British as well as German, on the latest songs and dances. She was an older woman, interested in a fledgling7). She took Eva under her wing and Eva was bowled over by her new sophisticated friend.

Ursula knew, too, of Eva’s infatuation for her “older man” whom she made sheep’s eyes at8), whom she trailed around after, sitting in restaurants and cafés, forgotten in a corner while he conducted endless conversations about politics. Eva started to take her along to these gatherings—Ursula was her best friend, after all. All Eva wanted was to be close to Hitler. And that was all Ursula wanted too.

And Ursula knew about Berg9) and bunker. And really she was doing this frivolous10) girl a great favour by inserting herself in her life. Ursula knew, too, of Eva’s infatuation for her.

And so, just as they had got used to Eva hanging around so they became accustomed to seeing her little English friend as well. Ursula was pleasant, she was a girl, she was nobody. She became so familiar that no one was surprised when she would turn up on her own andsimper11) with admiration at the would-be great man. He took adoration casually. To have so little self-doubt, she thought, what a thing that must be.

But, ye gods, it was boring. So much hot air rising above the tables in Café Heck or the Osteria Bavaria, like smoke from the ovens. It was difficult to believe from this perspective that Hitler was going to lay waste to the world in a few years’ time.

It was colder than usual for this time of year. Last night a light dusting of snow, like the icing sugar on Mrs Glover12)’s mince pies, had sifted over Munich. There was a big Christmas tree on the Marienplatz13) and the lovely smell of pine needles and roasting chestnuts everywhere.

The frosty air was invigorating and she walked towards the café with a wonderful purpose in her step, looking forward to a cup of Schokolade, hot and thick with cream.

Inside, the café was smoky and rather disagreeable after the sparklingly cold outdoors. The women were in furs and Ursula rather wished that she could have brought Sylvie14)’s mink with her. Her mother never wore it and it was left permanently mothballed in her wardrobe these days.

He was at a table at the far end of the room, surrounded by the usual disciples. They were an ugly lot, she thought, and laughed to herself.

“Ah. Unsere Englische Freundin15),” he said when he caught sight of her. “Guten Tag, gnädiges Fräulein16).” With the slightest flick of a finger he ousted a callow-lookingacolyte17) from the chair opposite and she sat down. He seemed irritable.

Es schneit, she said. “It’s snowing.” He glanced out of the window as if he hadn’t noticed the weather. He was eating Palatschinken18). They looked good but when the waiter came bustling over she ordered Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte19) to eat with her hot chocolate. It was delicious.

“Entschuldigung20),” she murmured, reaching down into her bag and delving for a handkerchief. Lace corners, monogrammed with Ursula’s initials, “UBT,” Ursula Beresford Todd, a birthday present from Pammy21). She dabbed politely at the crumbs on her lips and then bent down again to put the handkerchief back in her bag and retrieve the weighty object nesting there. Her father’s old service revolver from the Great War, a Webley Mark V. She made fast her heroine heart. “Wacht auf 22),” Ursula said quietly. The words attracted theFührer23)’s attention and she said, “Es nahet gen dem Tag24).”

A move rehearsed a hundred times. One shot. Swiftness was all, yet there was a moment, a bubble suspended in time after she had drawn the gun and levelled it at his heart when everything seemed to stop.

“Führer,” she said, breaking the spell. “Für Sie25).”

Around the table guns were jerked from holsters26) and pointed at her. One breath. One shot.

Ursula pulled the trigger.

Darkness fell.

注释

1.选自小说第四部分的“做个勇敢的人”(Be Ye Men of Valour) 小节,讲述的是主人公厄苏拉(Ursula)前往德国接近希特勒的情人伊娃·布劳恩(Eva Braun)并刺杀希特勒的过程。本节选略有删节。

2.frock [frɒk] n. 女式礼服;连衣裙

3.Oberpollinger:奥伯林格百货商厦,欧洲最大的百货公司之一,位于慕尼黑。

4.Englischer Garten:德语,指慕尼黑的英国公园。

5.carousel [ˌkærəˈsel] n. 旋转木马

6.mug up:〈英〉临时用功,突击学习

7.fledgling [ˈfledʒlɪŋ] n. 刚长羽毛的小鸟

8.make sheep’s eyes at (sb.):用充满爱意的眼神看(某人),向(某人)送秋波

9.Berg: 伯格霍夫(Berghof),意为山间别墅,又叫元首山庄,是希特勒的度假别墅,位于巴伐利亚。

10.frivolous [ˈfrɪvələs] adj. 草率的,不认真的

11.simper [ˈsɪmpə(r)] vi. 假笑;傻笑

12.Mrs Glover:厄苏拉家里的女仆格洛弗太太

13.the Marienplatz:玛利亚广场,慕尼黑的市中心广场

14.Sylvie:厄苏拉的母亲希尔维

15.Ah. Unsere Englische Freundin:德语,意为“啊,我们的英国小姐”。

16.Guten Tag, gnädiges Fräulein:德语,意为“你好,亲爱的女士”。

17.acolyte [ˈækəlaɪt] n. 侍从;助手;追随者

18.Palatschinken:德语,意为“可丽饼”。

19.Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte:德语,意为“黑森林蛋糕”。

20.Entschuldigung:德语,意为“不好意思”。

21.Pammy:帕米,厄苏拉的姐姐

22.Wacht auf:德语,意为“醒来吧”。

23.Führer:德语,意为“元首”(纳粹统治时期对希特勒的称呼)。

24.Es nahet gen dem Tag:德语,意为“曙光即将来临”。

25.Für Sie:德语,意为“给你”。

26.holster [ˈhəʊlstə(r)] n. (系在皮带等上的)手枪皮套

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