18.4 C
China
星期六, 13 4 月, 2024
spot_img
HomeModern Chinese EssaysJi Xianlin's Essay: On the Futility of Literary Criticism -- modern chinese...

Ji Xianlin’s Essay: On the Futility of Literary Criticism — modern chinese literature 季羡林《文学批评无用论》

Listen to this article

文学批评无用论

季羡林

读最近一期的《文学评论》,里面有几篇关于“红学” 〔12〕  的文章,引起了我的注意。有的作者既反省 〔13〕  ,又批判。有的作者从困境中找出路。有的作者慨叹,“红学”出了危机。如此等等,煞是热闹。文章的论点都非常精彩,很有启发。但是,我却忽然想到了一个怪问题:这样的“红学”有用处吗?对红学家本身,对在大学里和研究所里从事文学理论研究的人,当然有用。但是对广大的《红楼梦》的读者 〔14〕  呢?我看 〔15〕  是没有用处。

《红楼梦》问世二百年以来 〔16〕  ,通过汉文原文和各种译文读过本书的人,无虑多少个亿。这样多的读者哪一个是先看批评家的文章,然后再让批评家牵着鼻子走,按图索骥地去读原作呢? 〔17〕  我看是绝无仅有 〔18〕  。一切文学作品,特别是像《红楼梦》这样伟大的作品 〔19〕  ,内容异常地丰富,涉及到的社会层面异常地多,简直像是一个宝山,一座迷宫。而读者群就更为复杂,不同的家庭背景,不同的社会经历,不同的民族,不同的国家,不同的文化传统,不同的心理素质,不同的年龄,不同的性别,不同的职业,不同的爱好——还可以这样“不同”下去,就此打住——,他们来读《红楼梦》,会各就自己的特点,欣赏《红楼梦》中的某一个方面,受到鼓舞,受到启发,引起了喜爱;也可能受到打击 〔20〕  ,引起了憎恶,总之是千差万别。对这些读者来说,“红学家”就好像是住在“太虚幻境” 〔21〕  里的圣人、贤人,与自己无关。他们不管“红学家”究竟议论些什么,只是读下去,读下去。

因此我说,文学批评家无用。

不但对读者无用,对作者也无用。查一查各国文学史,我敢说,没有哪一个伟大作家是根据文学批评家的理论来进行创作的。

那么,文学批评家的研究不就是毫无意义了吗?也不是的。他们根据自己的文学欣赏的才能,根据不同的时代潮流,对文学作品提出自己的看法,互相争论,互相学习,互相启发,互相提高,这也是一种创作活动,对文学理论的建设会有很大的好处。只是不要幻想,自己的理论会对读者和作者有多大影响。这样一来,就可以各安其业,天下太平了。

上面这些话其实只有幼儿园的水平 〔22〕  。可是还没有见有什么人这样坦率地说了出来。就让我当一个“始作俑者”吧! 〔23〕

On the Futility of Literary Criticism

Ji Xianlin

In the latest issue of the Literary Review, several articles on Redology have attracted my attention. Some of the authors are introspective as well as critical; some try to find a way out of their academic predicament; some sigh with regret that Redology is faced with a crisis; and so on and so forth. The discussion is quite animated. The arguments set forth in the articles are very interesting and enlightening. Nevertheless, a strange question has occurred to me: Is this kind of Redology of any use at all? It is of course useful to the Redologists themselves as well as to those engaged in the study of literary theory at universities and research institutes. But, to my mind, it is of little use to readers of A Dream of Red Mansions at large.

Ever since the publication of this novel some 200 years ago, hundreds of millions of people have read its Chinese original or its translations in various languages. Of these innumerable people, how many have read the novel by starting with a perusal of the critics’ articles and allowing themselves to be led by the nose by the critics as to how to read the novel? Next to none. All literary works, especially a monumental one like A Dream of Red Mansions, are extremely rich in content and involve diverse social strata — to such an extent that they virtually resemble a mountain of treasure or a labyrinth. And the readers are even more complicated, differing from each other in family background, social experience, nationality, country, cultural tradition, psychological condition, age, sex, profession, hobby, etc., etc. The list could go on endlessly, so I wouldn’t mind stopping here. They will each appreciate a certain aspect of the novel according to their own individuality. They may feel inspired and enlightened, and hence love it, or they may feel hurt, and hence loathe it. In short, the reactions vary. To them, the Redologists seem to be sages and men of virtue residing in the “Illusory Land of Great Void” and having nothing whatsoever to do with them. They just read on and on, caring not what the Redologists may say.

Therefore, I reiterate, literary criticism is useless.

It is useless not only to readers, but also to writers. Looking up the literary history of each and every country, I dare say that none of the world’s great literary figures ever did their writing in line with the theory of literary critics.

On the other hand, however, does it follow that the research done by literary critics is totally meaningless? No, that is not true either. In accordance with their own capacity for literary appreciation and the different historical trends, the views they put forward for mutual discussion, study, inspiration and improvement are also something creative and conducive to the development of literary theory. Only they should be under no illusion about their theories exerting powerful influence on the readership or writers. That is the way for each to have a role of his own to play and for peace to reign under heaven.

What I’ve said above is only skin-deep, of kindergarten level. But so far none else have ventured to be equally candid. Therefore, let me be reconciled to being saddled with the epithet of “originator of a bad practice”.

《文学批评无用论》是季羡林写于1989年1月26日的一篇小品文。

注释

〔12〕 “红学”指研究古典文学《红楼梦》的学问,可译为Hongloumeng scholarship,但不如Redology简洁。Redology是由Red加词尾ology(学)构成。

〔13〕 “反省”译为introspective,和self-examining同义。

〔14〕 “广大的……读者”译为readers of … at large,其中at large是成语,和as a whole或in general同义。

〔15〕 “我看”意即“我认为”,现用成语to my mind表达。

〔16〕 “问世二百年以来”实际上是“问世约二百年以来”,故译为Ever since the publication of … some 200 years ago,其中some是添加的成分,作“大约”解。

〔17〕 “哪一个是先看批评家的文章,然后再让批评家牵着鼻子走,按图索骥地去读原作呢?”译为how many have read the novel by starting with a perusal of the critics’ articles and allowing themselves to be led by the nose by the critics as to how to read the novel?“按图索骥”在这里指“按批评家的指点去读原作”,其意思已包括在上面译文中,故略而不译。

〔18〕 “绝无仅有”作“极其少有”解,译为Next to none,和Almost none同义。

〔19〕 “特别是像《红楼梦》这样伟大的作品”译为especially a monumental one like A Dream of Red Mansions,其中monumental比great更有力,有不朽(immortal)的意思。

〔20〕 “也可能受到打击”中的“打击”作“刺痛”或“感情受到创伤”等解,不宜按字面直译为feel attacked。现全句译为or they may feel hurt。

〔21〕 “太虚幻境”引自《红楼梦》第五回,曾被译为Great Void Illusion Land和Illusory Land of Great Void等。

〔22〕 “上面这些话其实只有幼儿园的水平”译为What I’ve said above is only skin-deep, of kindergarten level,其中skin-deep(肤浅的)是添加成分,用以衬托of kindergarten level。

〔23〕 “就让我当一个‘始作俑者’吧!”语气幽默,意即“姑且接受‘始作俑者’的称号吧!”现按此意译为Therefore, let me be reconciled to being saddled with the epithet of “originator of a bad practice”。

Rate this post
iStudy
iStudy
Create International Study Opportunities For All Youth

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

RELATED ARTICLES
- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Random University

Flag Counter

Recent Comments

Translate »