您的位置:外语教育网 > 英语文化视窗 > 文学与艺术 > 小说 正文
  • 站内搜索:

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (part 3 chapter 6)

2006-08-22 20:21


  I'd never drive. I'm scared stiff of accidents! Even if they don't kill you, they mark you for life! And so saying, the sculptor made an instinctive grab for the finger he had nearly chopped off one day while whittling away at a wood statue. It was a miracle the finger had been saved.

  What do you mean? said Marie-Claude in a raucous voice. She was in top form. I was in a serious accident once, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. And I've never had more fun than when I was in that hospital! I couldn't sleep a wink, so I just read and read, day and night.

  They all looked at her in amazement. She basked in it. Franz reacted with a mixture of disgust (he knew that after the accident in question his wife had fallen into a deep depression and complained incessantly) and admiration (her ability to transform everything she experienced was a sign of true vitality)。

  It was there I began to divide books into day books and night books, she went on. Really, there are books meant for daytime reading and books that can be read only at night.

  Now they all looked at her in amazement and admiration, all, that is, but the sculptor, who was still holding his finger and wrinkling his face at the memory of the accident.

  Marie-Claude turned to him and asked, Which category would you put Stendhal in?

  The sculptor had not heard the question and shrugged his shoulders uncomfortably. An art critic standing next to him said he thought of Stendhal as daytime reading.

  Marie-Claude shook her head and said in her raucous voice, No, no, you're wrong! You're wrong! Stendhal is a night author!

  Franz's participation in the debate on night art and day art was disturbed by the fact that he was expecting Sabina to show up at any minute. They had spent many days pondering whether or not she should accept the invitation to this cocktail party. It was a party Marie-Claude was giving for all painters and sculptors who had ever exhibited in her private gallery. Ever since Sabina had met Franz, she had avoided his wife. But because they feared being found out, they came to the conclusion that it would be more natural and therefore less suspicious for her to come.

  While throwing unobtrusive looks in the direction of the entrance hall, Franz heard his eighteen-year-old daughter, Marie-Anne, holding forth at the other end of the room. Excusing himself from the group presided over by his wife, he made his way to the group presided over by his daughter. Some were in chairs, others standing, but Marie-Anne was cross-legged on the floor. Franz was certain that Marie-Claude would soon switch to the carpet on her side of the room, too. Sitting on the floor when you had guests was at the time a gesture signifying simplicity, informality, liberal politics, hospitality, and a Parisian way of life. The passion with which Marie-Claude sat on all floors was such that Franz began to worry she would take to sitting on the floor of the shop where she bought her cigarettes.

  What are you working on now, Alain? Marie-Anne asked the man at whose feet she was sitting.

  Alain was so naive and sincere as to try to give the gallery owner's daughter an honest answer. He started explaining his new approach to her, a combination of photography and oil, but he had scarcely got through three sentences when Marie-Anne began whistling a tune. The painter was speaking slowly and with great concentration and did not hear the whistling. Will you tell me why you're whistling? Franz whispered. Because I don't like to hear people talk about politics, she answered out loud.

  And in fact, two men standing in the same circle were discussing the coming elections in France. Marie-Anne, who felt it her duty to direct the proceedings, asked the men whether they were planning to go to the Rossini opera an Italian company was putting on in Geneva the following week. Meanwhile, Alain the painter sank into greater and greater detail about his new approach to painting. Franz was ashamed for his daughter. To put her in her place, he announced that whenever she went to the opera she complained terribly of boredom.

  You're awful, said Marie-Anne, trying to punch him in the stomach from a sitting position. The star tenor is so handsome. So handsome. I've seen him twice now, and I'm in love with him.

  Franz could not get over how much like her mother his daughter was. Why couldn't she be like him? But there was nothing he could do about it. She was not like him. How many times had he heard Marie-Claude proclaim she was in love with this or that painter, singer, writer, politician, and once even with a racing cyclist? Of course, it was all mere cocktail party rhetoric, but he could not help recalling now and then that more than twenty years ago she had gone about saying the same thing about-him and threatening him with suicide to boot.

  At that point, Sabina entered the room. Marie-Claude walked up to her. While Marie-Anne went on about Rossini, Franz trained his attention on what the two women were saying. After a few friendly words of greeting, Marie-Claude lifted the ceramic pendant from Sabina's neck and said in a very loud voice, What is that? How ugly!

  Those words made a deep impression on Franz. They were not meant to be combative; the raucous laughter immediately following them made it clear that by rejecting the pendant Marie-Claude did not wish to jeopardize her friendship with Sabina. But it was not the kind of thing she usually said.

  I made it myself, said Sabina.

  That pendant is ugly, really! Marie-Claude repeated very loudly. You shouldn't wear it.

  Franz knew his wife didn't care whether the pendant was ugly or not. An object was ugly if she willed it ugly, beautiful if she willed it beautiful. Pendants worn by her friends were a priori beautiful. And even if she did find them ugly, she would never say so, because flattery had long since become second nature to her.

  Why, then, did she decide that the pendant Sabina had made herself was ugly?

  Franz suddenly saw the answer plainly: Marie-Claude proclaimed Sabina's pendant ugly because she could afford to do so.

  Or to be more precise: Marie-Claude proclaimed Sabina's pendant ugly to make it clear that she could afford to tell Sabina her pendant was ugly.

  Sabina's exhibition the year before had not been particularly successful, so Marie-Claude did not set great store by Sabina's favor. Sabina, however, had every reason to set store by Marie-Claude's. Yet that was not at all evident from her behavior.

  Yes, Franz saw it plainly: Marie-Claude had taken advantage of the occasion to make clear to Sabina (and others) what the real balance of power was between the two of them.

相关热词:文学 小说
科目名称 主讲老师 课时 免费试听 优惠价 购买课程
英语零起点 郭俊霞 30课时 试听 150元/门 购买
综艺乐园 ------ 15课时 试听 100元/门 购买
边玩边学 ------ 10课时 试听 60元/门 购买
情景喜剧 ------ 15课时 试听 100元/门 购买
欢乐课堂 ------ 35课时 试听 150元/门 购买
趣味英语速成 钟 平 18课时 试听 179元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语预备级 (Pre-Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语一级 (Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语二级 (Movers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语三级 (Flyers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
初级英语口语 ------ 55课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
中级英语口语 ------ 83课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
高级英语口语 ------ 122课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
郭俊霞 北京语言大学毕业,国内某知名中学英语教研组长,教学标兵……详情>>
钟平 北大才俊,英语辅导专家,累计从事英语教学八年,机械化翻译公式发明人……详情>>

  1、凡本网注明 “来源:外语教育网”的所有作品,版权均属外语教育网所有,未经本网授权不得转载、链接、转贴或以其他方式使用;已经本网授权的,应在授权范围内使用,且必须注明“来源:外语教育网”。违反上述声明者,本网将追究其法律责任。