周一至周五 | 9:00—22:00

末世中的乌托邦

作者: 本刊编辑部

  ◎ 赏析 / 陈榕       保罗・奥斯特(Paul Auster) 1947年出生于美国新泽西州一个犹太中产阶级家庭。1965年,他考取了哥伦比亚大学,在就读期间曾到巴黎短暂游学。1970年,他获得哥伦比亚大学硕士学位,毕业后当过海员,做过编剧,翻译过法国诗歌。1985年,奥斯特发表了小说《玻璃之城》(City of Glass),1986年又相继发表了《幽灵》(Ghosts)与《密室》(The Locked Room)。这三部小说合称《纽约三部曲》(New York Trilogy),使他在美国文坛一举成名。《末世之城》(In the Country of Last Things)出版于1987年,之后他还出版了《幻影书》(The Book of Illusions)、《预言之夜》(Oracle Night)等小说。奥斯特被誉为美国当代最有知识分子气质的小说家之一。他的作品具有魔幻色彩,充满了新颖的想象和深刻的哲学思考。 中国论文网 https://www.xzbu.com/9/view-1723544.htm  
  Excerpts1)
  There are the last things, she wrote. One by one they disappear and never come back. I can tell you of the ones I have seen, of the ones that are no more, but I doubt there will be time. It is all happening too fast now, and I cannot keep up.
  I don’t expect you to understand. You have seen none of this, and even if you tried, you could not imagine it. These are the last things. A house is there one day, and the next day it is gone. A street you walked down yesterday is no longer there today. Even the weather is in constant flux. A day of sun followed by a day of rain, a day of snow followed by a day of fog, warm then cool, wind then stillness, a stretch of bitter cold, and then today, in the middle of winter, an afternoon of fragrant light, warm to the point of merely sweaters. When you live in the city, you learn to take nothing for granted. Close your eyes for a moment, turn around to look at something else, and the thing that was before you is suddenly gone. Nothing lasts, you see, not even the thoughts inside you. And you mustn’t waste your time looking for them. Once a thing is gone, that is the end of it.
  This is how I live, her letter continued. I don’t eat much. Just enough to keep me going from step to step, and no more. At times my weakness is so great, I feel the next step will never come. But I manage. In spite of the lapses2), I keep myself going. You should see how well I manage.
  The streets of the city are everywhere, and no two streets are the same. I put one foot in front of the other, and then the other foot in front of the first, and then hope I can do it again. Nothing more than that. You must understand how it is with me now. I move. I breathe what air is given me. I eat as little as I can. No matter what anyone says, the only thing that counts is staying on your feet.
  You remember what you said to me before I left. William3) has disappeared, you said, and no matter how hard I looked, I would never find him. Those were your words. And then I told you that I didn’t care what you said, that I was going to find my brother. And then I got on that terrible boat and left you. How long ago was that? I can’t remember anymore. Years and years, I think. But that is only a guess. I make no bones about4) it. I’ve lost track, and nothing will ever set it right for me.
  This much is certain. If not for my hunger, I wouldn’t be able to go on. You must get used to doing with as little as you can. By wanting less, you are content with less, and the less you need, the better off5) you are. That is what the city does to you. It turns your thoughts inside out6). It makes you want to live, and at the same time it tries to take your life away from you. There is no escape from this. Either you do or you don’t. And if you do, you can’t be sure of doing it the next time. And if you don’t, you never will again.
  I am not sure why I am writing to you now. To be honest, I have barely thought of you since I got here. But suddenly, after all this time, I feel there is something to say, and if I don’t quickly write it down, my head will burst. It doesn’t matter if you read it. It doesn’t even matter if I send it―assuming that could be done. Perhaps it comes down to this. I am writing to you because you know nothing. Because you are far away from me and know nothing.
  There are people so thin, she wrote, they are sometimes blown away. The winds in the city are ferocious7), always gusting8) off the river and singing in your ears, always buffeting9) you back and forth, always swirling papers and garbage in your path. It’s not uncommon to see the thinnest people moving about in twos and threes, sometimes whole families, bound together by ropes and chains, to ballast10) one another against the blasts11). Others give up trying to go out altogether, hugging to the doorways and alcoves12), until even the fairest sky seems a threat. Better to wait quietly in their corner, they think, than to be dashed against the stones. It is also possible to become so good at not eating that eventually you can eat nothing at all.
  It is even worse for the ones who fight their hunger. Thinking about food too much can only lead to trouble. These are the ones who are obsessed, who refuse to give in to the facts. They prowl13) the streets at all hours, scavenging14) for morsels15), taking enormous risks for even the smallest crumb16). No matter how much they are able to find, it will never be enough. They eat without ever filling themselves, tearing into their food with animal haste, their bony fingers picking, their quivering jaws never shut. Most of it dribbles17) down their chins, and what they manage to swallow, they usually throw up again in a few minutes. It is a slow death, as if food were a fire, a madness, burning them up from within. They think they are eating to stay alive, but in the end they are the ones who are eaten.
  
  1. 节选部分选自小说的开头部分,主人公安娜以给朋友写信的方式,描述了事情发生的背景和自身所处的恶劣生存环境。
  2. lapse [læps] n. 退步,后退
  3. William:威廉,小说中安娜的哥哥
  4. make no bones about:坦率地承认,对……不加隐瞒
  5. better off:境况好起来的
  6. inside out:彻底地
  7. ferocious [fəˈrəʊʃəs] adj. 十分强烈的
  8. gust [�ʌst] vi. 一阵阵地劲吹
  9. buffet [ˈbʌfɪt] vt. 连续猛击
  10. ballast [ˈbæləst] vt. 使稳定
  11. blast [bl�ːst] n. 狂风,暴风
  12. alcove [ˈælkəʊv] n. 凹室
  13. prowl [praʊl] vt. (为觅食等)潜行;(仔细地)搜寻
  14. scavenge [ˈskævɪndʒ] vt. (从丢弃物中)捡(有用之物);在……中搜寻有用之物
  15. morsel [ˈmɔː(r)s(ə)l] n. (食物的)一口,一小份
  16. crumb [krʌm] n. 碎屑;面包屑;糕饼屑
  17. dribble [ˈdrɪb(ə)l] vi. 滴下;一点一滴地落下
  
  作品欣赏
  1516年,英国作家托马斯・莫尔出版了小说《乌托邦》(Utopia)。在这部小说中,他描绘了一个民主、平等、没有纷争的世界。这个美丽新世界寄托了身处封建君主统治下的莫尔对理想社会的构想。莫尔创造的“Utopia”(乌托邦)这个词来自两个希腊词汇“ou”与“topos”。其中“ou”表示“没有”,“topos”表示“地方”。不过,“ou”在英文中的谐音“eu-”又表示“美好”。所以乌托邦既是美好的国度,又是在这个世界上难以寻觅的“乌有乡”。
  后来,人们开始用“乌托邦小说”来泛指文学中那些想象幸福世界的作品。人们有感于现存世界的种种弊病,用乌托邦小说来憧憬出一个完美的未来社会。然而,并不是所有人都如此乐观,也并不是所有人都相信这个世界会越变越好,世上还有很多对事态发展持怀疑态度的人。这些怀疑主义者反其道而行之,用“反乌托邦小说”勾勒出人间的劫难和丑恶。在这些小说里,我们乘着时间的列车前行奔驰,没有抵达天堂,而是来至地狱的入口。
  《末世之城》便是这样一部反乌托邦小说。小说没有标明故事发生的年代,但根据作者的描述,我们能猜测出是在未来的某个时空。小说主人公是一位名叫安娜的女性。书稿是她写给朋友的长信。为了找到失踪的哥哥,安娜来到了纽约。此时的纽约已经是一座末世之城。所有的工业都被摧毁,生产中断。人们只能依靠残存的物资生活,大量的人口在疾病或饥饿中死去。为了生存,安娜做了一名拾荒人,并因此遇到了一位名叫伊莎贝的老妇人,和她结下了如同母女般的情谊。伊莎贝病故后,安娜流浪到纽约市国家图书馆,遇到了新闻记者萨姆,两个人坠入爱河,之后安娜怀了孕。不幸的是,安娜遭人蒙骗,被拐卖到了以贩卖人肉为生的地下屠宰场。为了从屠宰场逃生,安娜破窗而出,结果孩子流产,但幸运的是,她被慈善院“沃朋之家”的工作人员救助和收留。小说的结尾,安娜和爱人萨姆以及“沃朋之家”的主人维多利亚等决定结伴离开纽约,但前路关卡重重,成功希望渺茫。
  在这部小说中,未来的纽约是一座黑暗的城市:气候反复无常,人们没有御寒的衣物;机器停止了转动,人们缺乏最基本的日常消费品;一座座楼房在倾塌,人们找不到温暖的居所;食物成了最珍贵的私有物资,人们在饥饿的啃噬中痛苦地死去。在这样一座城市里,生存成了每天被拉长的痛苦。为了早日得到解脱,人们发明了各种快速死亡的方式。有人请医生帮忙实施安乐死。有人服用大剂量毒品,想让死亡来到的那一刻充满虚幻的快感。有人甚至发明了新颖的集体自杀的方式,比如“跑死族”,大家一起拖着虚弱的身体狂奔,在心脏不能承受负荷的一刹那倒地身亡。
  更为可怕的是,恶劣的生存环境放大了人性的恶。为了一点食物,人们可以自相残杀。为了换取自身的生存,人们可以互相出卖。城市里还有地下屠宰场,将活人诱骗到那里杀掉,将人肉作为食物售卖。《末世之城》的结尾没有出现好人有好报的预言。主人公和朋友们打算集体出逃,不过他们心里明白自己一定会被政府设立的路障拦下来。
  然而,越是丑陋、邪恶的环境,越容易反衬出人性的美好。安娜在末世之城里的遭遇就说明了这一点。她先后落脚了三个地方:拾荒老妇人伊莎贝的家、作为文明象征的图书馆,还有福利机构“沃朋之家”。这三个地方是这个末世之城里的浮岛,为安娜提供了一个个可以栖身受佑护的乌托邦。安娜只身进城,居无定所,是素昧平生的伊莎贝收留了她,给了她母亲式的呵护和关爱。安娜没有找到哥哥,但是接替哥哥在纽约记者站工作的萨姆给了她爱情和温暖。两个年轻人用身体的依偎和精神的交流来抵抗苦难和黑暗。安娜流产后,在救治她的“沃朋之家”结识了一群志同道合的朋友。他们将仅有的粮食分给饥饿的陌生人共享,用稀缺的药物给倒在路边的病人提供救治。行善使他们沦为赤贫,即便如此,他们相互扶持,从来没有改变过志向。
  第二次世界大战之后,文学领域诞生了一批反乌托邦小说经典。威廉・戈尔丁的《蝇王》(Lord of the Flies)*描写了一群十几岁的孩子流落到荒岛的经历。缺少了文明的束缚,他们回归野性,相互捕猎,将荒岛变成了杀人场。这是人性恶的集中体现。乔治・奥威尔的《一九八四》(1984)描写了一个铁牢笼似的世界。在“老大哥”的领导下,人与人之间相互监视,自由成了奢望,爱情不被允许,艺术是违禁品,连读一本莎士比亚的著作都是罪过。这是极权主义的深沉噩梦。《末世之城》同样充满了反乌托邦式的想象,但与《蝇王》不同,它让你看到人与人之间仍存在着关爱的可能;和《一九八四》也不同,它让你看到人可以决定自己的行动,即便不能逃脱困境,也可以决定如何有尊严地活下去以及如何有尊严地面对死亡。
  在《末世之城》中,我们真切地感受到了这座城市行将毁灭。一切都将耗尽。一切都将失去。食物吃完,衣服穿破,人衰竭而死,尸体被政府收走,拉到火化场焚毁,最后冷却成冰凉的一堆灰烬。但是,小说也让我们看到了一丝光亮,让我们明白:在这个世界上,还有一座座小小的乌托邦,那里收藏着人类永恒的信仰和理想。
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