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中英:月亮和六便士(18)

2006-08-22 21:19

    Chapter XVIII

    In point of fact, I met Strickland before I had been a fortnight in Paris.

    I quickly found myself a tiny apartment on the fifth floor of a house in the Rue des Dames, and for a couple of hundred francs bought at a second-hand dealer's enough furniture to make it habitable. I arranged with the concierge to make my coffee in the morning and to keep the place clean. Then I went to see my friend Dirk Stroeve.

    Dirk Stroeve was one of those persons whom, according to your character, you cannot think of without derisive laughter or an embarrassed shrug of the shoulders. Nature had made him a buffoon. He was a painter, but a very bad one, whom I had met in Rome, and I still remembered his pictures. He had a genuine enthusiasm for the commonplace. His soul palpitating with love of art, he painted the models who hung about the stairway of Bernini in the Piazza de Spagna, undaunted by their obvious picturesqueness; and his studio was full of canvases on which were portrayed moustachioed, large-eyed peasants in peaked hats, urchins in becoming rags, and women in bright petticoats. Sometimes they lounged at the steps of a church, and sometimes dallied among cypresses against a cloudless sky; sometimes they made love by a Renaissance well-head, and sometimes they wandered through the Campagna by the side of an ox-waggon. They were carefully drawn and carefully painted. A photograph could not have been more exact. One of the painters at the Villa Medici had called him Le Maitre de la Boite a Chocoloats. To look at his pictures you would have thought that Monet, Manet, and the rest of the Impressionists had never been.

    "I don't pretend to be a great painter, " he said, "I'm not a Michael Angelo, no, but I have something. I sell. I bring romance into the homes of all sorts of people. Do you know, they buy my pictures not only in Holland, but in Norway and Sweden and Denmark? It's mostly merchants who buy them, and rich tradesmen. You can't imagine what the winters are like in those countries, so long and dark and cold. They like to think that Italy is like my pictures. That's what they expect. That's what I expected Italy to be before I came here. "

    And I think that was the vision that had remained with him always, dazzling his eyes so that he could not see the truth; and notwithstanding the brutality of fact, he continued to see with the eyes of the spirit an Italy of romantic brigands and picturesque ruins. It was an ideal that he painted —— a poor one, common and shop-soiled, but still it was an ideal; and it gave his character a peculiar charm.

    It was because I felt this that Dirk Stroeve was not to me, as to others, merely an object of ridicule. His fellow-painters made no secret of their contempt for his work, but he earned a fair amount of money, and they did not hesitate to make free use of his purse. He was generous, and the needy, laughing at him because he believed so naively their stories of distress, borrowed from him with effrontery. He was very emotional, yet his feeling, so easily aroused, had in it something absurd, so that you accepted his kindness, but felt no gratitude. To take money from him was like robbing a child, and you despised him because he was so foolish. I imagine that a pickpocket, proud of his light fingers, must feel a sort of indignation with the careless woman who leaves in a cab a vanity-bag with all her jewels in it. Nature had made him a butt, but had denied him insensibility. He writhed under the jokes, practical and otherwise, which were perpetually made at his expense, and yet never ceased, it seemed wilfully, to expose himself to them. He was constantly wounded, and yet his good- nature was such that he could not bear malice: the viper might sting him, but he never learned by experience, and had no sooner recovered from his pain than he tenderly placed it once more in his bosom. His life was a tragedy written in the terms of knockabout farce. Because I did not laugh at him he was grateful to me, and he used to pour into my sympathetic ear the long list of his troubles. The saddest thing about them was that they were grotesque, and the more pathetic they were, the more you wanted to laugh.

    But though so bad a painter, he had a very delicate feeling for art, and to go with him to picture-galleries was a rare treat. His enthusiasm was sincere and his criticism acute. He was catholic. He had not only a true appreciation of the old masters, but sympathy with the moderns. He was quick to discover talent, and his praise was generous. I think I have never known a man whose judgment was surer. And he was better educated than most painters. He was not, like most of them, ignorant of kindred arts, and his taste for music and literature gave depth and variety to his comprehension of painting. To a young man like myself his advice and guidance were of incomparable value.

    When I left Rome I corresponded with him, and about once in two months received from him long letters in queer English, which brought before me vividly his spluttering, enthusiastic, gesticulating conversation. Some time before I went to Paris he had married an Englishwoman, and was now settled in a studio in Montmartre. I had not seen him for four years, and had never met his wife.

    实际上,我在巴黎住了还不到两个星期就看到思特里克兰德了。

    我没有费什么工夫就在达姆路一所房子的五层楼上租到一小间公寓。我花了两三百法郎在一家旧货店购置了几件家具,把屋子布置起来,又同看门的人商量好,叫她每天早晨给我煮咖啡,替我收拾房间。这以后我就去看我的朋友戴尔克。施特略夫。

    戴尔克。施特略夫是这样一个人:根据人们不同的性格,有人在想到他的时候鄙夷地一笑,有的则困惑地耸一下肩膀。造物主把他制造成一个滑稽角色。他是一个画家,但他是一个很蹩脚的画家。我是在罗马和他认识的,我始终记得他那时画的画儿。他衷心拜倒在平凡庸俗的脚下。他的灵魂由于对艺术的热爱而悸动着,他描摹悬在斯巴尼亚广场贝尼尼①式楼梯上的一些画幅,一点儿也不觉得这些绘画美得有些失真。他自己画室里的作品张张画的是蓄着小胡须、生着大眼睛、头戴尖顶帽的农民,衣衫破烂但又整齐得体的街头顽童,和穿着花花绿绿的裙子的女人。这些画中人物有时候在教堂门口台阶上闲立,有时候在一片晴朗无云的碧空下的柏树丛中戏逐,有时候在有文艺复兴时期建筑风格的喷泉边调情,也有时候跟在牛车旁边走过意大利田野。这些人物画得非常细致,色彩过于真切。就是摄影师也不能拍出更加逼真的照片来。住在梅迪其别墅的一位画家管施特略夫叫做巧克力糖盒子的大画师②。看了他的画,你会认为莫奈③、马奈④和所有印象派画家从来不曾出现过。

    ①乔凡尼。罗伦索。贝尼尼(1598—1680),意大利巴洛克派雕塑家、建筑家和画家。

    ②原文为法语

    ③克劳德。莫奈(1840—1926),法国画家。

    ④埃多瓦。马奈(1832—1883),法国画家。

    “我知道自己不是个伟大的画家,”他对我说,“我不是米开朗基罗,不是的,但是我有自己的东西。我的画有人要买。我把浪漫情调带进各种人的家庭里。你知道,不只在荷兰,就是在挪威、瑞典和丹麦也有人买我的画。买画的主要是商人,有钱的生意人。那些国家里冬天是什么样子你恐怕想象不到,阴沉、寒冷、长得没有尽头。他们喜欢看到我画中的意大利景象。那是他们所希望看到的意大利,也是我没来这里以前想象中的意大利。”

    我觉得这是他永远也抛弃不掉的幻景,这种幻景闪得他眼花缭乱,叫他看不到真实情景。他不顾眼前严酷的事实,总用自己幻想的目光凝视着一个到处是浪漫主义的侠盗、美丽如画的废墟的意大利。他画的是他理想中的境界——尽管他的理想很幼稚、很庸俗、很陈旧,但终究是个理想;这就赋予了他的性格一种迷人的色彩。

    正因为我有这种感觉,所以戴尔克。施特略夫在我的眼睛里不象在别人眼睛里那样,只是一个受人嘲弄挖苦的对象。他的一些同行毫不掩饰他们对他作品的鄙视,但是施特略夫却很能赚钱,而这些人把他的钱包就看作是自己的一样,动用时是从来没有什么顾虑的。他很大方;那些手头拮据的人一方面嘲笑他那么天真地轻信他们编造的不幸故事,一方面厚颜无耻地伸手向他借钱。他非常重感情,但是在他那很容易就被打动的感情里面却含有某种愚蠢的东西,让你接受了他好心肠的帮助却丝毫没有感激之情。向他借钱就好象从小孩儿手里抢东西一样;因为他太好欺侮,你反而有点儿看不起他。我猜想,一个以手快自豪的扒手对一个把装满贵重首饰的皮包丢在车上的粗心大意的女人一定会感到有些恼火的。讲到施特略夫,一方面造物主把他制造成一个笑料,另一方面又拒绝给他迟钝的感觉。人们不停地拿他开玩笑,不论是善意的嘲讽或是恶作剧的挖苦都叫他痛苦不堪,但是他又从来不停止给人制造嘲弄的机会,倒好像他有意这样做似的。他不断地受人伤害,可是他的性格又是那么善良,从来不肯怀恨人;即便挨了毒蛇咬,也不懂得吸取经验教训,只要疼痛一过,又会心存怜悯地把蛇揣在怀里。他的生活好象是按照那种充满打闹的滑稽剧的格式写的一出悲剧。因为我没有嘲笑过他,所以他很感激我;他常常把自己的一连串烦恼倾注到我富于同情的耳朵里。最悲惨之点在于他受的这些委屈总是滑稽可笑的,这些事他讲得越悲惨,你就越忍不住要笑出来。

    但是施特略夫虽然是一个不高明的画家,对艺术却有敏锐的鉴赏力,同他一起参观画廊是一种很难得的享受。他的热情是真实的,评论是深刻的。施特略夫是个天主教徒,他不仅对古典派的绘画大师由衷赞赏,对于现代派画家也颇表同情。他善于发掘有才能的新人,从不吝惜自己的赞誉。我认为在我见到的人中,再没有谁比他的判断更为中肯的了。他比大多数画家都更有修养,也不象他们那样对其他艺术那样无知。他对音乐和文学的鉴赏力使他对绘画的理解既深刻又不拘于一格。对于象我这样的年轻人,他的诱导是极其可贵的。

    我离开罗马后同他继续有书信往来,每两个月左右我就接到他用怪里怪气的英语写的一封长信。他谈话时那种又急切又热情、双手挥舞的神情总是跃然纸上。在我去巴黎前不久,他同一个英国女人结了婚,在蒙特玛特尔区一间画室里安了家。我已经有四年没有同他见面了,她的妻子我还从来没见过。

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