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马克·吐温在汉尼堡

2006-07-09 13:36

Mark Twain in Hannibal

  When be wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain turned Hannibal, Missouri—which he later described as a “white town drowsing in the sunshine of a summer's morning” — into an American literary Mecca. No other town in the country has stronger associations with an author, and Twain readily acknowledged its role in his success.

  The relationship between Hannibal and Twain began in November 1839, when Twain's father, John Clemens, decided to leave the hamlet of Florida, Missouri, and move east about 35 miles(56km) to the somewhat larger and more prosperous Hannibal, on the banks of the Mississippi River. Twain, then known as Samuel Clemens, marked his fourth birthday about a week after the family settled there. He showed little promise of becoming a long-term resident. However, because his health was so poor that his parents probably feared he would not survive childhood.

  During the family's first few years in Hannibal, Twain was too young to understand fully the changes going on around him. John Clemens, though trained as a lawyer, tried to support his family by running a store and speculating in real estate. When those ventures failed. Clemens was forced to postpone his plans to establish a permanent home for the family.

  About 1843, he began concentrating on the practice of law, a decision that brought some stability to the family finances and enabled him to have a house built. Construction began in 1843, and the family moved into the new house the next year. Situated on Hill Street, near the center of town, the modest two-story frame house attracted little attention during the years when the family called it home. The kitchen, dining room and parlor were on the first floor, and three bedrooms, along with a small wardrobe room, were upstairs.

  About the time the family moved into their new home. Twain's health improved dramatically. Instead of having to lead a quiet indoor life, he could roam the streets of Hannibal. Climb the surrounding hills, explore the area's caves and splash about in local swimming holes. He reveled in his newfound freedom, spending nearly all his free time playing outdoors with the other boys in town and soon becoming a leader. One member of his gang was Twain's and became a close friend. Twain's many comrades also included girls. Across the street lived one named Laura Hawkins, with whom he often flirted.

  Twain's carefree days did not last long, His father used their house as collateral for a friend's loan, and the creditor took possession when the loan failed. A physician who lived diagonally across the street from the family offered to let them live in his home, which was called the Pilaster House because of its decorative columns. The Clemens family moved into that house sometime in late 1846. On March 24, 1847, John Clemens died. His wife. Jane Lampton Clemens, and their oldest son, Orion, managed to regain possession of the little house on Hill Street, and the family moved back into it that summer. These events dampened but did not extinguish Twain's cheerful disposition.

  For the next six years, Twain, his brother Henry, and his sister Pamela live with their mother in the family home. Twain began taking odd jobs after school to bring in extra cash. Within a year of his father's death, he quit school and became an apprentice printer, and when his brother Orion bought the Hannibal Journal in 1851, Twain went to work for him as a printer and editorial assistant. The stories he wrote for Orion's paper, his first publications, taught him that he much preferred writing to typesetting. Thus, when he decided to leave Hannibal in May 1853, he already had an inkling of his future career.


马克·吐温在汉尼堡

  当马克·吐温撰写《汤姆·索亚历险记》和《哈克贝里·费恩历险记》时,他把密苏里的汉尼堡变成了美国文学的圣地(后来他描写它如同一座“沐浴在夏日清晨阳光照射下安宁的小镇”)。在这个国家没有哪一座城镇会比这里能与作家的关系更紧密的了,而且吐温乐于承认它在他取得成功中的作用。

  汉尼堡与吐温的关系始于1893年,当时吐温的父亲,约翰·克莱门斯,决定离开密苏里州佛罗里达的小村子,迁往东35英里(56公里)位于密西西比河岸边那座大点儿的、繁荣些的汉尼堡。当一家人在那里居了大约一个星期后,吐温(当时叫塞缪尔·克莱门斯)度过了四岁的生日。然而他差点儿没能成为哪儿的长期居民,因为他的身体很差以至于父母担心他可能会夭折。

  在全家人住在汉尼堡的头几年里,吐温太小还不能完全理解他周围发生的变化。约翰·克莱门斯尽管受过做律师的训练,可还是要靠开店铺和做房地产的投机买卖来养家糊口。但当这些生意失败后,克莱门斯不得不推迟了他为家人建一个长久安乐窝的计划。

  大概到了1843年,他的注意力开始转向法律行业,这个决定为全家带来了一些经济保障并且使他能盖一栋房子了。房子是1843年开始盖的,第二年全家乔迁新居。这栋两层的简易木板房座落在临近镇中心的希尔街,当时几乎没有人去注意这栋被全家人称作家的房子。厨房,餐厅和起居室在一层,三间卧室和一间小藏衣室在楼上。

  也就在全家乔迁新居时,吐温的身体戏剧般地好转了。他不再被迫过着肃静的室内生活,而可以在汉尼堡的街道上随处闲逛,攀爬周围的小山,探寻这里的洞穴以及在当地的水潭里嬉戏。他陶醉在新获得的自由中,几乎所有的空闲时间他都在外面和镇子里的其他们孩子玩耍并且很快就成了小头头儿。在这帮孩子中有个叫汤姆·布兰肯希普的,他住在离吐温家不到一个街区的一栋年久失修的房子里,并与吐温成了好朋友。在吐温众多的伙伴中也有女孩子。住在街对面一个叫做劳拉·霍金斯的女孩,吐温时常找她逗闷。

  吐温无忧无虑的日子没过多久。父亲将他们的房子做了抵押,以便向一个朋友贷款,当贷款还不上后这个债主占了抵押物。一位住在他家斜对面的医生主动提出让他们住在他家,他的家因为有装饰性的柱子而被称为“壁柱屋”。在1846年末的一个时候克莱门斯一家搬进了那栋房子。1847年3月24日,约翰·克莱门斯去世。其妻简·兰普顿·克莱门斯和长子奥利翁,设法重新得到了希尔街那栋小屋的产权,并在那年夏天举家搬了回去。这些事很丧气,但并没有改变吐温愉悦的个性。

  以后的六年间,吐温的哥亨利,妹妹帕梅拉及母亲住在自己的家里。吐温在放学后开始打零工来挣些钱贴补家用。父亲去世的一年后,他辍了学并在印刷厂当起学徒,1851年当他哥哥奥利翁买下《汉尼堡杂志》时,吐温去那里给他干活,当了一名印刷工兼编辑助理。他为奥利翁的报纸写的故事,也是他的处女作,使他明白与排字工作相比自己更喜欢写作。于是,当他在1853年5月决定离开汉尼堡时,他对将来的事业已有了初步的勾画。

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