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真正的书 

                                                               —— 罗斯金              谢国芳(Roy Xie)译     

            

所有的书可以分成两类:一时的书与永久的书。请注意这个区别——它不只是质量上的区别。并不仅仅是坏书不能经久,而好书能流芳百世,它乃是一个种的区别。

有一时的好书,也有永久的好书;有一时的坏书,也有永久的坏书。在进一步讨论之前,我必须先给这两种书下一个定义。一时的好书(至于坏书我就不讲了)不过是把某人有益的或有趣的谈话印刷出来给你看而已,——因为你无法和讲话人直接交谈。它们常常是非常有益的,会告诉你需要知道的很多东西;常常趣味盎然,就像一位明智的朋友面对面的谈话。那些聪明的关于旅行见闻的记述;轻松愉快而又机智诙谐的对某个问题的讨论;以小说形式讲述的一个个或欢快或伤感的故事;——所有这些一时的书都是当前这个时代所特有的,随着教育变得日益普及,其数量也在不断增加;对于它们,我们完全应该表示感谢,倘不能善加利用,还应当深感羞愧。但如果我们竟让它们霸占了真正书籍的位置,那就是对它们最糟糕的使用了;因为严格说来,它们根本就不是什么书籍,充其量只是印刷精良的书信或者报纸。

我们的朋友写的信在今天或许是令人愉快的,甚或是必要的,但是否值得保存,就有待考虑了。报纸在早餐时间阅读可能是完全适宜的,但它断然不能充当全天的读物。所以,一封向你娓娓讲述去年某个地方的客栈、道路和天气的长信,或是告诉你一个有趣的故事或某某事件之真实详情的信,虽然装订成册,而且具有不管多么巨大的临时参考价值,但在真正的意义上,却根本不是“书”,而且在真正的意义上,也谈不上被“阅读”。

书本质上不是讲谈录,而是著作物;而著作的目的,不仅仅是为了沟通,而且是为了永久。讲谈录之类的书之所以被印出来仅仅是因为其作者无法同时对数千人讲话,如果他能够,他会愿意直接讲的——书卷只不过是他的声音的扩大而已。你无法和你远在印度的朋友交谈(如果你能够,你会愿意直接来谈的),于是你便以写信代替:这仅仅是声音的传输。但写一本书却并非仅仅是为了扩大声音,运载声音,而且更是为了使它不朽。作者认识到某些事物真实而有用,或者美而有益因而感到有话要说。就他所知,尚没有一个人说过同样的话;就他所知也没有一个人能够说出同样的话。因此他一定要把它说出来,倘若他能够,还要说得清楚明了优美动听;说得清楚,是无论如何要做到的。

综其一生,他发现有一件事情或一组事情在他特别了然于胸——而这,不论是某种真正的知识或者见解,正是他所领受的那份日月之光华、大地之滋养允许他把握的。他极其渴望将它永久记录下来;倘若他能够,最好铭刻在岩石之上:“这才是我的精华;至于其余,吃喝睡觉、爱恨情仇我与常人并无两样;我的一生犹如蒸汽,已挥发殆尽,了无痕迹;但于这一点我却见有独到,知之至深:请记住它吧——倘若我的任何东西值得你们的记忆。”这便是他的“著作”;而这竭尽了他的绵薄之力、凝聚着不论多多少少他的真正灵感的文字,就是他的碑铭,他的经文,这才是一本真正的“书”。

 

     ……

                               谢国芳(Roy Xie 2005年9月译于广州富力千禧花园        

 

                      


      

    英文原文(Original English Text)

True Books

by  John Ruskin

   

      All books are divisible into two classes, the books of the hour, and the books of all time. Mark this distinction---it is not one of quality only. It is not merely the bad book that does not last, and the good one that does. It is a distinction of species.

     There are good books for the hour, and good ones for all time; bad books for the hour, and bad ones for all time. I must define the two kinds before I go farther. The good book of the hour, then, ---I do not speak of the bad ones, ---is simply the useful or pleasant talk of some person whom you cannot otherwise converse with, printed for you. Very useful often, telling you what you need to know; very pleasant often, as a sensible friend ’s present talk would be. These bright accounts of travels; good-humored and witty discussions of question; lively or pathetic storytelling in the form of novel; ---all these books of the hour, multiplying among us as education becomes more general, are a peculiar possession of the present age; we ought to be entirely thankful for them, and entirely ashamed of ourselves if we make no good use of them. But we make the worst possible use if we allow them to usurp the place of true books; for strictly speaking, they are not books at all, but merely letters or newspapers in good print.

     Our friend’s letter may be delightful, or necessary, today; whether worth keeping or not, is to be considered. The newspaper may be entirely proper at breakfast time, but assuredly it is not reading for all day. So, though bound up in a volume, the long letter which gives you so pleasant an account of the inns, and roads, and weather last year at such a place, or which tells you that amusing story, or gives you the real circumstances of such and such events, however valuable for occasional reference, may not be, in the real sense of the word, a "book" at all, nor in the real sense, to be "read".

     A book is not essentially a talked thing, but a written thing; and written, not with the view of mere communication, but of permanence. The book of talk is printed only because its author cannot speak to thousands of people at once; if he could, he would---the volume is mere multiplication of his voice. You cannot talk to your friend in India; if you could, you would; you write instead: that is mere conveyance of voice. But a book is written, not to multiply the voice merely, not to carry it merely, but to perpetuate it. The author has something to say which he perceives to be true and useful, or helpfully beautiful. So far as he knows, no one has yet said it; so far as he knows, no one else can say it. He is bound to say it, clearly and melodiously if he may; clearly, at all events.

     In the sum of his life he finds this to be the thing, or group of things, manifest to him;---this, the piece of true knowledge, or sight, which his share of sunshine and earth has permitted him to seize. He would fain set it down forever; engrave it on rock, if he could; saying, “This is the best of me; for the rest , I ate, and drank, and slept, loved, and hated, like another; my life was as the vapor and is not; but this I saw and knew: this if anything of mine, is worth your memory.” That is his “writing”; it is, in his small human way, and with whatever degree of true inspiration is in him, his inscription, or scripture. That is a “Book”.

 

 

 

 


 


英文原文(Original English Text)

   

    

 

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