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温斯顿·丘吉尔 写作的乐趣

2006-07-07 16:52

Winston Churchill

THE JOYS OF WRITING

February 17,1908

  The fortunate people in the world-the only reallyfortunate people in the world,in my mind,-arethose whose work is also their pleasure.The classis not a large one,not nearly so large as it is oftenrepresented to be;and authors are perhaps one ofthe most important elements in its composition.They enjoy in this respect at least a real harmonyof life.To my mind,to be able to make your workyour pleasure is the one class distinction in theworld worth striving for;and I do not wonder thatothers are inclined to envy those happy human be-ings who find their livelihood in the gay effusionsof their fancy,to whom every hour of labour is anhour of enjoyment,to whom repose-however nec-essary-is a tiresome interlude.and even a holidayis almost deprivation.Whether a man writes wellor ill,has much to say or little,if he cares aboutwriting at all,he will appreciate the pleasures ofcomposition.To sit at one's table on a sunny morning,with four clear hours of uninterruptiblesecurity,plenty of nice white paper,and a Squeez-er pen-that is true happiness.The complete ab-sorption of the mind upon an agreeable occupa-tion-what more is there than that to desire?Whatdoes it matter what happens outside?The House ofCommons may do what it likes,and so may theHouse of Lords.The heathen may rage furiously inevery part of the globe.The bottom may beknocked clean out of the American market.Con-sols may fall and suffragettes may rise.Nevermind,for four hours,at any rate,we will with-draw ourselves from a common,ill-governed,and disorderly world,and with the key of fancyunlock that cupboard where all the good things ofthe infinite are put away.

  And speaking of freedom,is not the authorfree,as few men are free?Is he not secure,as fewmen are secure?The tools of his industry are socommon and so cheap that they have almost ceasedto have commercial value.He needs no bulky pileof raw material,no elaborate apparatus,no serviceof men or animals.He is dependent for his occupa-tion upon no one but himself,and nothing outsidehim that matters.He is the sovereign of an em-pire,self-supporting,self-contained.No onecan sequestrate his estates.No one can deprivehim of his stock in trade;no one can force him toexercise his faculty against his will;no one canprevent him exercising it as he chooses.The pen isthe great liberator of men and nations.No chainscan bind,no poverty can choke,no tariff can re-strict the free play of his mind,and even the“Times” Book Club can only exert a moderatelydepressing influence upon his rewards.Whetherhis work is good or bad,so long as he does his besthe is happy.I often fortify myself amid the uncer-tainties and vexations of political life by believingthat I possess a line of retreat into a peaceful andfertile country where no rascal can pursue andwhere one need never be dull or idle or even whollywithout power.It is then,indeed,that I feel de-voutly thankful to have been born foud of writing.It is then,indeed,that I feel grateful to all thebrave and generous spirits who,in every age and inevery land,have fought to establish the now un-questioned freedom of the pen.

  And what a noble medium the English lan-guage is.It is not possible to write a page withoutexperiencing positive pleasure at the richness andvariety,the flexibility and the profoundness of ourmother-tongue.If an English writer cannot saywhat he has to say in English,and in simple Eng-lish,depend upon it it is probably not worth say-ing.What a pity it is that English is not more gen-erally studied.I am not going to attack classical e-ducation.No one who has the slightest pretensionto literary tastes can be insensible to the attractionof Greece and Rome.But I confess our present ed-ucational system excites in my mind grave misgiv-ings.I cannot believe that a system is good,oreven reasonable,which thrusts upon reluctant anduncomprehending multitudes treasures which can only be appreciated by the privileged and giftedfew.To the vast majority of boys who attend ourpublic schools a classical education is from begin-ning to end one long useless,meaningless rigma-role.If I am told that classles are the best prepara-tion for the study of English,I reply that by farthe greater number of students finish their educa-tion while this preparatory stage is still incompleteand without deriving any of the benefits which arepromised as its result.

  And even of those who,without being great scholars,attain a certain general acquaintance withthe ancient writers,can it really be said that theyhave also obtained the mastery of English?How many young gentlemen there are from the universi-ties and public schools who can turn a Latin versewith a facility which would make the old Romanssquirm in their tombs.How few there are who canconstruct a few good sentences,or still less a fewgood paragraphs of plain,correct,and straightfor-ward English.Now,I am a great admirer of theGreeks,although,of course,I have to depend up-on what others tell me about them,-and I wouldlike to see our educationists imitate in one respect,at least,the Greek example.How is it that theGreeks made their language the most graceful andcompendious mode of expression ever known a- mong men?Did they spend all their time studyingthe languages which had preceded theirs? Did theyexplore with tireless persistency the ancient rootdialects of the vanished world?Not at all.Theystudied Greek.They studied their own language.They loved it,they cherished it,they adorned it,they expanded it,and that is why it survives amodel and delight to all posterity.Surely we,whose mother-tongue has already won for itselfsuch an unequalled empier over the modern world,can learn this lesson at least from the ancientGreeks and bestow a little care and some proper-tion of the years of education to the study of a language which is perhaps to play a predominant partin the future progress of mankind.

  Let us remember the author can always do hisbest.There is no excuse for him.The great crick-eter may be out of form.The general may on theday of decisive battle have a bad toothache or a badarmy.The admiral may be seasick—as a sufferer Ireflect with satisfaction upon that contingency.Caruso may be afflicted with catarrh,or Hacken-schmidt with influenza.As for an orator,it is notenough for him to be able to think well and truly.He must think quickly.Speed is vital to him.Spontaneity is more than ever the hall-mark ofgood speaking.All these varied forces of activityrequire from the performer the command of thebest that is in him at a particular moment whichmay be fixed by circumstances utterly beyond hiscontrol.It is not so with the author.He need nev-er appear in public until he is ready.He can alwaysrealise the best that is in him.He is not dependentupon his best moment in any one day.He maygroup together the best moments of twenty days.There is no excuse for him if he does not do hisbest.Great is his opportunity;great also his re-sponsibility.Someone—I forget who—has said: “Words are the only things which last for ever.”That is,to my mind,always a wonderful thought.The most durable structures raised in stone by thestrength of man,the mightiest monuments of hispower,crumble into dust,while the words spokenwith fleeting breath,the passing expression of theunstable fancies of his mind,endure not as echoesof the past,not as mere archaeological curiositiesor venerable relics,but with a force and life as newand strong,and sometimes far stronger than whenthey were first spoken,and leaping across the gulfof three thousand years,they light the world forus to-day.

温斯顿·丘吉尔

写作的乐趣

1908年2月17日

  在我看来,世上幸运的人——世上唯一真正幸运的人,是那些以工作为乐的人。这个阶层的人并不多,还没有人们常说的那样多。也许,作家是其中最重要的组成部分之一。就幸运而言,他们至少享受着生活中真正的和谐美。依我看,能使工作成为乐趣,是世人值得为之奋斗的一种崇高的荣誉;而且,我毫不怀疑别人会羡慕这些幸福的人,因为他们在快乐地喷涌的幻想中找到了生计,对他们来说,每劳动一小时,就是享受一小时,而休息——无论多么有必要——是令人讨厌的插曲,甚至度假也几乎成了一种损失。无论写得好坏,写成多少,只要在意,就可尝到谋章布局的乐趣。在一个阳光明媚的早晨,临桌而坐,整整四个小时不受打扰,有足够数量的雪白稿纸,还有一支“挤压式”妙笔——那才叫真正的幸福。全心全意地投入一项令人愉快的职业——此愿足矣!外面发生什么事又有何妨?下院想干什么就干什么吧,上院也可如此。异教徙可以在全球各地大发作。美国市场可以彻底崩溃。证券可以下跌;女权运动可以兴起。没有关系,不管怎么说,我们有四个小时可以躲开这俗气的、治理不善的、杂乱无章的世界,并且用想象这把钥匙,去开启藏有大千世界一切宝物的小橱。

  说到自由,既然自由自在的人为数不多,难道作家还不算自由?既然获得安全感的人并不多,难道作家还不算安全?作家作业的工具极为平常,极为便宜,几乎不再有商业价值。他不需要成堆的原材料,不需要精密仪器,不需要有人效犬马之劳。他的职业不靠任何人,只靠自己;除了他自己以外,任何事都无关紧要。他就是一国之君,既自给,又自立。任何人都不能没收他的资产。任何人都不能剥夺他的从业资本;任何人都不能强迫他违心地施展才华;任何人都不能阻止他按自己的选择发挥天赋。他的笔就是人类和各民族的大救星。他的思想在自由驰骋,任何锁链束缚不住,任何贫困阻挡不住,任何关税限制不住,甚至“泰晤士”图书俱乐部也只能有节制地对他的收获泼一点冷水。无论作品是好是糟,只要已经尽力而为,他就会感到欢快。在变幻无常、扑朔迷离的政坛活动中,我每每以此信念自励:我有一条通向安逸富饶之地的退路,在那里,任何无赖都不能追踪,我永远不必垂头丧气或无可事事,即便没有一丁点权力。确实,在那时,我才为自己生来就爱好写作而真诚地感到欣慰不已;在那时,我才对各个时代、各个国家所有勇敢而慷慨的人充满感激之情,因为他们为确立如今无可争议的写作自由进行了斗争。

  英语是多么崇高的工具!我们每写下一页,都不可能不对祖国语言的丰富多采、灵巧精深,产生一种实实在在的喜悦。如果一位英国作家不能用英语,不能用简单的英语说出他必须说的话,请诸位相信,那句话也许就不值得说。英语没有更广泛地得到学习是何等的憾事!我不是要攻击古典教育。凡自命对文学有一丁点鉴赏力的人,都不可能对希腊罗马的吸引力无动于衷。但我承认,我国目前的教育制度却使我忧心忡忡。我无法相信这个制度是好的,甚至是合理的,因为它把唯有少数特权人物和天才人物才能欣赏的东西,一古脑儿摆在很不情愿又很不理解的人民大众面前。对公立学校的广大学童来说,古典教育从头至尾都是一些冗长的、毫无用处的和毫无意义的废话。如果有人告诉我,古典课程是学习英语的最好准备,那我就回答说,迄今为止,大批学生已完成了学业,而这个准备阶段却仍然很不完善,未能收到它所保证的任何好处。

  即使那些无缘成为大学者、但对古代作家有所了解的人,难道可以说他们已经掌握了英语吗?究竟有多少从大学和公学毕业的年轻绅士,能够娴熟地写下一段拉丁诗文,使坟墓中的古罗马人闻之动情?能写出几行佳句的人何其少也!更不要说能用简单的、正确的和练达的英语写出几个精彩段落的人了。不过,我倒是极为仰慕古希腊人——当然我得仰仗别人把他们的情况告诉我——我想见到我们的教育专家至少能在一个方面效法古希腊人。古希腊人是如何使自己的语言,成为人类迄今所知最典雅、最简练的表达方式的呢?他们花毕生时间学习希腊语以前的语言了吗?他们无休无止地坚持探索已消失的世界的原始方言了吗?根本没有!他们只学习希腊语。他们学习自己的语言。他们热爱它,珍惜它,点缀它,发展它,因此,它才能延续下来,成为所有后代人的楷模和乐趣。毫无疑问,对我们来说,既然英语已经为自己在现代世界赢得了如此无与论比的疆域,我们至少能从古希腊人那里学到一条道理,在数年教育中稍微操点心并拨出一些时间,去学习一种也许将在人类未来进步中起到主导作用的语言。

  让我们都记住,作家永远可以尽最大的努力,他没有任何借口不这样做。板球巨星也许会状态不佳。将军在决战之日也许会牙疼,或者他的部队很糟糕。舰队司令也许会晕船——我作为晕船者满意地想到了那种意外。卡鲁索也许会得黏膜炎,哈肯施米特也许会得流感。至于一位演说家,想得好和想得正确是不够的,他还需想得快。速度至关重要;随机应变越来越成为优秀演说家的标志。所有上述活动都需要行动者在一个特定的时刻倾其所能,而这一时刻也许决定于他完全无法控制的种种事态。作家的情况不一样。不到万事俱备,他永远不必出场。他永远可以发挥最大的能力。他并不依赖于自己在某一天的最佳一刻,他可以把20天的最佳时刻加起来。他没有理由不尽最大的努力。他的机会很多;他的责任也很重。某人说过——我忘了此君是谁——“话语乃唯一持久不灭之物”。依我看,这永远是绝妙的思想。人类力量的最伟大的杰作,即人类用石块垒起的无比坚固的大厦,也会夷为废墟,而那脱口而出的话语,那思绪起伏时转瞬即逝的表达却延续了下来,但它不是过去的回响,不是纯粹的建筑奇迹或神圣的遗址,它力量依旧,生命依旧,有时候远比初说时更坚强有力,它越过了3000年时光的峡谷,为今天的我们照亮了世界。

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