《红楼梦》英译品读 (一)
中国网 2019-05-04 14:27

作者:王晓辉

《红楼梦》作为中国文学的代表作能够走向世界,为西方读者所了解,主要归功于四位译者:大卫·霍克斯、约翰·闵福德和杨宪益、戴乃迭。前两位是师生兼翁婿,后两位则是夫妻。这两对组合分别于上世纪七、八十年代将《红楼梦》译成英文,让外国读者能够走进大观园,一窥这座奇伟瑰丽的文学宝库。

大卫·霍克斯【图片来源:www.cuhk.edu.hk】

霍克斯是英国人,汉学家,1948年-1951年曾就读于北京大学,回国后任教于牛津大学中文系。1970年,霍克斯开始翻译《红楼梦》。这是一项开天辟地的工程,为此,霍克斯辞去了牛津大学中文系的教职,全心全意地投入了翻译工作,直到1980年,才将《红楼梦》的前八十回(曹雪芹著)译竟出版。曹雪芹写作《红楼梦》,“披阅十载,增删五次”;霍克斯翻译《红楼梦》,同样历时十年。曹雪芹为写《红楼梦》,贫困潦倒,举家食粥;霍克斯为译《红楼梦》,一度生活窘迫,曾经想找一个送牛奶的工作贴补家用,当店老板得知他是牛津大学的教授,却以“学术背景过高,不适合此项工作”为由婉拒了他。看来,成就大事者,必经艰苦磨砺,古今同理,中外皆然。

翻译《红楼梦》,困难重重。首先遇到的障碍就是“甄(真)”与“贾(假)”、梦境与现实以及大量隐喻、谐音的处理。《红楼梦》虽然是文学创作,但所记之事,不仅是作者亲身经历,而且又有很多情节涉及到皇家,因此,作者不得不隐去真名,借女娲补天的故事,引出通灵宝玉的前世今生。曹雪芹在小说中反复使用写“梦”的手法,拉开故事情节与现实生活的距离,同时,又用大量的隐喻、暗示,包括人名和地名的谐音,将故事与真实联系起来。书中第一回甄士隐在梦中见到“太虚幻境”石牌坊上的一副对联:“假作真时真亦假,无为有处有还无(Truth becomes fiction when the fiction's true, Real becomes not-real when the unreal's real.—霍克斯译 When false is taken for true, true becomes false; If non-being turns into being, being becomes non-being.—杨宪益译)”,似乎也是在提示读者书中真实与虚构的复杂关系。

《红楼梦》第一回:

当日地陷东南,这东南一隅有处曰姑苏,有城曰阊门者,最是红尘中一二等富贵风流之地。这阊门外有个十里街,街内有个仁清巷,巷内有个古庙,因地方狭窄,人皆呼作葫芦庙。庙旁住着一家乡宦,姓甄,名费,字士隐。嫡妻封氏,性情贤淑,深明礼义。家中虽不十分富贵,然本地便也推他为望族了。因这甄士隐禀性恬淡,不以功名为念,每日只以观花修竹、酌酒吟诗为乐,倒是神仙一流人品。只是一件不足:如今年已半百,膝下无儿,只有一女,乳名唤作英莲,年方三岁。

这段文字看似平铺直叙,却大有深意。《红楼梦》故事从这里拉开序幕,女娲补天剩下的那块石头(贾宝玉)、绛珠仙子(林黛玉)等一批痴男怨女均在这个时候投胎转世,坠入红尘,等待他们的是阊门(娼门)、十里街(势利街)、仁清巷(人情巷)……俱是人间的烦恼苦难的根源。第一个出场的人物姓甄(真)名费(非)字士隐(事隐),既是真又是非,同时,还将“真事隐”了!

这样一小段文字,就隐藏着这么多地名人名的谐音和隐喻,霍克斯会怎么处理呢?

他是这样翻译的:Long, long ago the world was tilted downwards towards the south-east; and in that lower-lying south-easterly part of the earth there is a city called Soochow; and in Soochow the district around the Chang-men Gate is reckoned one of the two or three wealthiest and most fashionable quarters in the world of men. Outside the Chang-men Gate is a wide thoroughfare called Worldly Way; and somewhere off Worldly Way is an area called Carnal Lane. There is an old temple in the Carnal Lane area which, because of the way it is bottled up inside a narrow cul-de-sac, is referred to locally as Bottle-gourd Temple. Next door to the Bottle-gourd Temple lived a gentleman of private means called Zhen Shi-yin and his wife Feng-she, a kind, good woman with a profound sense of decency and decorum. The household was not a particularly wealthy one, but they were nevertheless looked up to by all and sundry as the leading family in the neighborhood. Zhen Shi-yin himself was by nature a quiet and totally unambitious person. He devoted his time to his garden and to the pleasure of wine and poetry. Except for a single flaw, his existence could, indeed, have been described as an idyllic one. The flaw was that, although already past fifty, he had no son, only a little girl, just two years old, whose name was Ying-lian.

霍克斯不愧是一位汉学家,他没有采用音译的办法,而是用转译的手法,将“十里街”译为Worldly Way, 意思是“势利街”,将“仁清巷”译为Carnal Lane, 意思是“世俗巷”。无论是什么灵石还是仙草,一旦堕入凡间,等待他们的不就是名缰利索和情怨苦恨吗?这样的翻译,不仅保留了原意,而且还与作者“神合”,殊为不易。当然,也不是每一处谐音、隐喻和游戏笔墨都要直白译出,如果将“阊门”译成Brothel Gate,将甄士隐译成Hidden Truth,反有过分之嫌。

霍克斯在英译本的前言中也提到《红楼梦》中的梦境:The idea that the worldling's ‘reality' is illusion and that life itself is a dream from which we shall eventually awake is of course a Buddhist one; but in Xueqin's hands it becomes a poetical means of demonstrating that his characters are both creatures of his imagination and at the same time the real companions of his golden youth.(佛教认为,一切俗世的“真实”皆为虚幻,人生只是一场终将醒来的梦。在曹雪芹的笔下,佛家的这种观念却变成了浪漫的写作手法,作者年轻时的真实际遇与创作中的虚幻想象有机结合,难分彼此。)

对于书中的象征、隐喻和谐音,霍克斯是这样理解的:......but many of the symbols, word-plays and secret patterns with which the novel abounds seem to be used out of sheer ebullience, as though the author was playing some sort of game with himself and did not much care whether he was observed or not.Many such subtleties will, I fear, have vanished in translation.My one abiding principle has been to translate EVERYTHING-even puns. For although this is, in the sense I have already indicated, an ‘unfinished'novel, it was written and rewritten by a great artist with his very lifeblood. I have therefore assumed that whatever I find in it is there for a purpose and must be dealt with somehow or other. I cannot pretend always to have done so successfully, but if I can convey to the reader even a fraction of the pleasure this Chinese novel has given me, I shall not lived in vain.(小说中颇多象征、隐喻及游戏笔墨,应系作者兴之所致,信手拈来,仿佛在与自己捉迷藏,至于是否有人观看,他并不甚在意。但这些微妙含蓄之处,恐怕已在翻译过程中消失殆尽了。我始终不渝的原则就是“全部”翻译出来,即使是双关语也要设法译出。虽然这是一本未完成的小说,但却是一位伟大的艺术家用生命之血写成,所以,我认为小说里的内容,不论是什么,必有其存在的目的,无论如何也要想办法处理,不能删减。我不能说自己做得有多么成功,但只要能够将这本中国小说带给我的快乐,哪怕是很小的一部分,传递给读者,也算不虚此生了。)

霍克斯的担心不是没有道理,在语言转换的过程中,最难处理的就是谐音之类的文字游戏了。英语中也常有这样类似于脑筋急转弯的话:He is a man of letters—he works in a post office. 就像中国的歇后语“肚皮上盖章——印度”一样,只可意会,一旦转换成另一种语言,由谐音构成的逻辑与幽默都不复存在了。连霍克斯这样的大师级译者尚存遗憾,足见翻译之难。

霍克斯花费十年光阴翻译《红楼梦》,是中国文学外译的精品,也是对中国文化的巨大贡献,功德无量。后学晚辈,茶余饭后,换一种语言品读红楼,在两种文字转换之间体会语言文化的微妙,偶有心得,与朋友分享,也是人生一大乐趣。

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