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HomeModern Chinese EssaysLu Xun: Preface to “Call to Arms” ~ 《呐喊》自序with English Translations

Lu Xun: Preface to “Call to Arms” ~ 《呐喊》自序with English Translations

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《呐喊》自序

Preface to “Call to Arms”

(December 3, 1922)

文/鲁迅

译/杨宪益、戴乃迭

我在年青时候也曾经做过许多梦,后来大半忘却了,但自己也并不以为可惜。所谓回忆者,虽说可以使人欢欣,有时也不免使人寂寞,使精神的丝缕还牵着已逝的寂寞的时光,又有什么意味呢,而我偏苦于不能全忘却,这不能全忘的一部分,到现在便成了《呐喊》的来由。

When I was young I, too, had many dreams. Most of them came to be forgotten, but I see nothing in this to regret. For although recalling the past may make you happy, it may sometimes also make you lonely, and there is no point in clinging in spirit to lonely bygone days. However, my trouble is that I cannot forget completely, and these stories have resulted from what I have been unable to erase from my memory.

我有四年多,曾经常常,——几乎是每天,出入于质铺和药店里,年纪可是忘却了,总之是药店的柜台正和我一样高,质铺的是比我高一倍,我从一倍高的柜台外送上衣服或首饰去,在侮蔑里接了钱,再到一样高的柜台上给我久病的父亲去买药。回家之后,又须忙别的事了,因为开方的医生是最有名的,以此所用的药引也奇特:冬天的芦根,经霜三年的甘蔗,蟋蟀要原对的,结子的平地木,……多不是容易办到的东西。然而我的父亲终于日重一日的亡故了。

For more than four years I used to go, almost daily, to a pawnbroker’s and to a medicine shop. I cannot remember how old I was then; but the counter in the medicine shop was the same height as I, and that in the pawnbroker’s twice my height. I used to hand clothes and trinkets up to the counter twice my height, take the money proffered with contempt, then go to the counter the same height as I to buy medicine for my father who had long been ill. On my return home I had other things to keep me busy, for since the physician who made out the prescriptions was very well-known, he used unusual drugs: aloe root dug up in winter, sugar-cane that had been three years exposed to frost, twin crickets, and ardisia… all of which were difficult to procure. But my father’s illness went from bad to worse until he died.

有谁从小康人家而坠入困顿的么,我以为在这途路中,大概可以看见世人的真面目;我要到N进K学堂去了,仿佛是想走异路,逃异地,去寻求别样的人们。我的母亲没有法,办了八元的川资,说是由我的自便;然而伊哭了,这正是情理中的事,因为那时读书应试是正路,所谓学洋务,社会上便以为是一种走投无路的人,只得将灵魂卖给鬼子,要加倍的奚落而且排斥的,而况伊又看不见自己的儿子了。然而我也顾不得这些事,终于到N去进了K学堂了,在这学堂里,我才知道世上还有所谓格致,算学,地理,历史,绘图和体操。生理学并不教,但我们却看到些木版的《全体新论》和《化学卫生论》之类了。我还记得先前的医生的议论和方药,和现在所知道的比较起来,便渐渐的悟得中医不过是一种有意的或无意的骗子,同时又很起了对于被骗的病人和他的家族的同情;而且从译出的历史上,又知道了日本维新是大半发端于西方医学的事实。

I believe those who sink from prosperity to poverty will probably come, in the process, to understand what the world is really like. I wanted to go to the K—school in N—perhaps because I was in search of a change of scene and faces. There was nothing for my mother to do but to raise eight dollars for my travelling expenses, and say I might do as I pleased. That she cried was only natural, for at that time the proper thing was to study the classics and take the official examinations. Anyone who studied “foreign subjects” was looked down upon as a fellow good for nothing, who, out of desperation, was forced to sell his soul to foreign devils. Besides, she was sorry to part with me. But in spite of that, I went to N—and entered the K—school; and it was there that I heard for the first time the names of such subjects as natural science, arithmetic, geography, history, drawing and physical training. They had no physiology course, but we saw woodblock editions of such works as A New Course on the Human Body and Essays on Chemistry and Hygiene. Recalling the talk and prescriptions of physicians I had known and comparing them with what I now knew, I came to the conclusion those physicians must be either unwitting or deliberate charlatans; and I began to sympathize with the invalids and families who suffered at their hands. From translated histories I also learned that the Japanese Reformation had originated, to a great extent, with the introduction of Western medical science to Japan.

因为这些幼稚的知识,后来便使我的学籍列在日本一个乡间的医学专门学校里了。我的梦很美满,预备卒业回来,救治像我父亲似的被误的病人的疾苦,战争时候便去当军医,一面又促进了国人对于维新的信仰。我已不知道教授微生物学的方法,现在又有了怎样的进步了,总之那时是用了电影,来显示微生物的形状的,因此有时讲义的一段落已完,而时间还没有到,教师便映些风景或时事的画片给学生看,以用去这多余的光阴。其时正当日俄战争的时候,关于战事的画片自然也就比较的多了,我在这一个讲堂中,便须常常随喜我那同学们的拍手和喝彩。有一回,我竟在画片上忽然会见我久违的许多中国人了,一个绑在中间,许多站在左右,一样是强壮的体格,而显出麻木的神情。据解说,则绑着的是替俄国做了军事上的侦探,正要被日军砍下头颅来示众,而围着的便是来赏鉴这示众的盛举的人们。

These inklings took me to a provincial medical college in Japan. I dreamed a beautiful dream that on my return to China I would cure patients like my father, who had been wrongly treated, while if war broke out I would serve as an army doctor, at the same time strengthening my countrymen’s faith in reformation. I do not know what advanced methods are now used to reach microbiology, but at that time lantern slides were used to show the microbes; and if the lecture ended early, the instructor might show slides of natural scenery or news to fill up the time. This was during the Russo-Japanese War, so there were many war films, and I had to join in the clapping and cheering in the lecture hall along with the other students. It was a long time since I had seen any compatriots, but one day I saw a film showing some Chinese, one of whom was bound, while many others stood around him. They were all strong fellows but appeared completely apathetic. According to the commentary, the one with his hands bound was a spy working for the Russians, who was to have his head cut off by the Japanese military as a warning to others, while the Chinese beside him had come to enjoy the spectacle.

这一学年没有完毕,我已经到了东京了,因为从那一回以后,我便觉得医学并非一件紧要事,凡是愚弱的国民,即使体格如何健全,如何茁壮,也只能做毫无意义的示众的材料和看客,病死多少是不必以为不幸的。所以我们的第一要著,是在改变他们的精神,而善于改变精神的是,我那时以为当然要推文艺,于是想提倡文艺运动了。在东京的留学生很有学法政理化以至警察工业的,但没有人治文学和美术;可是在冷淡的空气中,也幸而寻到几个同志了,此外又邀集了必须的几个人,商量之后,第一步当然是出杂志,名目是取“新的生命”的意思,因为我们那时大抵带些复古的倾向,所以只谓之《新生》。

Before the term was over I had left for Tokyo, because after this film I felt that medical science was not so important after all. The people of a weak and backward country, however strong and healthy they may be, can only serve to be made examples of, or to witness such futile spectacles; and it doesn’t really matter how many of them die of illness. The most important thing, therefore, was to change their spirit, and since at that time I felt that literature was the best means to this end, I determined to promote a literary movement. There were many Chinese students in Tokyo studying law, political science, physics and chemistry, even police work and engineering, but not one studying literature or art. However, even in this uncongenial atmosphere I was fortunate enough to find some kindred spirits. We gathered the few others we needed, and after discussion our first step, of course, was to publish a magazine, the title of which denoted that this was a new birth. As we were then rather classically inclined, we called it Xin Sheng (New Life).

《新生》的出版之期接近了,但最先就隐去了若干担当文字的人,接着又逃走了资本,结果只剩下不名一钱的三个人。创始时候既已背时,失败时候当然无可告语,而其后却连这三个人也都为各自的运命所驱策,不能在一处纵谈将来的好梦了,这就是我们的并未产生的《新生》的结局。

When the time for publication drew near, some of our contributors dropped out, and then our funds were withdrawn, until finally there were only three of us left, and we were penniless. Since we had started our magazine at an unlucky hour, there was naturally no one to whom we could complain when we failed; but later even we three were destined to part, and our discussions of a dream future had to cease. So ended this abortive New Life.

 

我感到未尝经验的无聊,是自此以后的事。我当初是不知其所以然的;后来想,凡有一人的主张,得了赞和,是促其前进的,得了反对,是促其奋斗的,独有叫喊于生人中,而生人并无反应,既非赞同,也无反对,如置身毫无边际的荒原,无可措手的了,这是怎样的悲哀呵,我于是以我所感到者为寂寞。

Only later did I feel the futility of it all; at that time I did not really understand anything. Later I felt if a man’s proposals met with approval, it should encourage him; if they met with opposition, it should make him fight back; but the real tragedy for him was to lift up his voice among the living and meet with no response, neither approval nor opposition, just as if he were left helpless in a boundless desert. So I began to feel lonely.

这寂寞又一天一天的长大起来,如大毒蛇,缠住了我的灵魂了。

And this feeling of loneliness grew day by day, coiling about my soul like a huge poisonous snake.

然而我虽然自有无端的悲哀,却也并不愤懑,因为这经验使我反省,看见自己了:就是我决不是一个振臂一呼应者云集的英雄。

Yet in spite of my unaccountable sadness, I felt no indignation; for this experience had made me reflect and see that I was definitely not the heroic type who could rally multitudes at his call.

只是我自己的寂寞是不可不驱除的,因为这于我太痛苦。我于是用了种种法,来麻醉自己的灵魂,使我沉入于国民中,使我回到古代去,后来也亲历或旁观过几样更寂寞更悲哀的事,都为我所不愿追怀,甘心使他们和我的脑一同消灭在泥土里的,但我的麻醉法却也似乎已经奏了功,再没有青年时候的慷慨激昂的意思了。

However, my loneliness had to be dispelled, for it was causing me agony. So I used various means to dull my senses, both by conforming to the spirit of the time and turning to the past. Later I experienced or witnessed even greater loneliness and sadness, which I do not like to recall, preferring that it should perish with me. Still my attempt to deaden my senses was not unsuccessful—I had lost the enthusiasm and fervour of my youth.

S会馆里有三间屋,相传是往昔曾在院子里的槐树上缢死过一个女人的,现在槐树已经高不可攀了,而这屋还没有人住;许多年,我便寓在这屋里钞古碑。客中少有人来,古碑中也遇不到什么问题和主义,而我的生命却居然暗暗的消去了,这也就是我惟一的愿望。夏夜,蚊子多了,便摇着蒲扇坐在槐树下,从密叶缝里看那一点一点的青天,晚出的槐蚕又每每冰冷的落在头颈上。

In S Hostel there were three rooms where it was said a woman had lived who hanged herself on the locust tree in the courtyard. Although the tree had grown so tall that its branches could no longer be reached, the rooms remained deserted. For some years I stayed here, copying ancient inscriptions. I had few visitors, there were no political problems or issues in those inscriptions, and my only desire was that my life should slip quietly away like this. On summer nights, when there were too many mosquitoes, I would sit under the locust tree, waving my fan and looking at the specks of sky through the thick leaves, while the caterpillars which came out in the evening would fall, icy-cold, on to my neck.

那时偶或来谈的是一个老朋友金心异,将手提的大皮夹放在破桌上,脱下长衫,对面坐下了,因为怕狗,似乎心房还在怦怦的跳动。

The only visitor to come for an occasional talk was my old friend Chin Hsin-yi. He would put his big portfolio down on the broken table, take off his long gown, and sit facing me, looking as if his heart was still beating fast after braving the dogs.

“你钞了这些有什么用?”有一夜,他翻着我那古碑的钞本,发了研究的质问了。

“What is the use of copying these?” he demanded inquisitively one night, after looking through the inscriptions I had copied.

“没有什么用。”

“No use at all.”

“那么,你钞他是什么意思呢?”

“Then why copy them?”

“没有什么意思。”

“For no particular reason.”

“我想,你可以做点文章……”

“I think you might write something…”

我懂得他的意思了,他们正办《新青年》,然而那时仿佛不特没有人来赞同,并且也还没有人来反对,我想,他们许是感到寂寞了,但是说:

I understood. They were editing the magazine New Youth, but hitherto there seemed to have been no reaction, favourable or otherwise, and I guessed they must be feeling lonely. However I said:

“假如一间铁屋子,是绝无窗户而万难破毁的,里面有许多熟睡的人们,不久都要闷死了,然而是从昏睡入死灭,并不感到就死的悲哀。现在你大嚷起来,惊起了较为清醒的几个人,使这不幸的少数者来受无可挽救的临终的苦楚,你倒以为对得起他们么?”

“Imagine an iron house without windows, absolutely indestructible, with many people fast asleep inside who will soon die of suffocation. But you know since they will die in their sleep, they will not feel the pain of death. Now if you cry aloud to wake a few of the lighter sleepers, making those unfortunate few suffer the agony of irrevocable death, do you think you are doing them a good turn?”

“然而几个人既然起来,你不能说决没有毁坏这铁屋的希望。”

“But if a few awake, you can’t say there is no hope of destroying the iron house.”

是的,我虽然自有我的确信,然而说到希望,却是不能抹杀的,因为希望是在于将来,决不能以我之必无的证明,来折服了他之所谓可有,于是我终于答应他也做文章了,这便是最初的一篇《狂人日记》。从此以后,便一发而不可收,每写些小说模样的文章,以敷衍朋友们的嘱托,积久就有了十余篇。

True, in spite of my own conviction, I could not blot out hope, for hope lies in the future. I could not use my own evidence to refute his assertion that it might exist. So I agreed to write, and the result was my first story, A Madman’s Diary. From that time onwards, I could not stop writing, and would write some sort of short story from time to time at the request of friends, until I had more than a dozen of them.

在我自己,本以为现在是已经并非一个切迫而不能已于言的人了,但或者也还未能忘怀于当日自己的寂寞的悲哀罢,所以有时候仍不免呐喊几声,聊以慰藉那在寂寞里奔驰的猛士,使他不惮于前驱。至于我的喊声是勇猛或是悲哀,是可憎或是可笑,那倒是不暇顾及的;但既然是呐喊,则当然须听将令的了,所以我往往不恤委婉了一点,在《药》的瑜儿的坟上平空添上一个花环,在《明天》里也不叙单四嫂子竟没有做到看见儿子的梦,因为那时的主将是不主张消极的。至于自己,却也并不愿将自以为苦的寂寞,再来传染给也如我那年青时候似的正做着好梦的青年。

As for myself, I no longer feel any great urge to express myself; yet, perhaps because I have not entirely forgotten the grief of my past loneliness. I sometimes call out, to encourage those fighters who are galloping on in loneliness, so that they do not lose heart. Whether my cry is brave or sad, repellent or ridiculous, I do not care. However, since it is a call to arms, I must naturally obey my general’s orders. This is why I often resort to innuendoes, as when I made a wreath appear from nowhere at the son’s grave in Medicine, while in Tomorrow I did not say that Fourth Shan’s Wife had no dreams of her little boy. For our chiefs then were against pessimism. And I, for my part, did not want to infect with the loneliness I had found so bitter those young people who were still dreaming pleasant dreams, just as I had done when young.

这样说来,我的小说和艺术的距离之远,也就可想而知了,然而到今日还能蒙着小说的名,甚而至于且有成集的机会,无论如何总不能不说是一件侥幸的事,但侥幸虽使我不安于心,而悬揣人间暂时还有读者,则究竟也仍然是高兴的。

It is clear, then, that my short stories fall far short of being works of art; hence I count myself fortunate that they are still known as stories, and are even being compiled in one book. Although such good fortune makes me uneasy, I am nevertheless pleased to think they have readers in the world of men, for the time being at least.

所以我竟将我的短篇小说结集起来,而且付印了,又因为上面所说的缘由,便称之为《呐喊》。

Since these short stories of mine are being reprinted in one collection, owing to the reasons given above, I have chosen the title Na Han (Call to Arms).

一九二二年十二月三日,鲁迅记于北京。

December 3, 1922, Peking

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