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長腿叔叔 (45)

17th November

Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

Such a blight has fallen over my literary career. I don't know whether to tell you or not, but I would like some sympathy—silent sympathy, please; don't re-open the wound by referring to it in your next letter.



我的文學生涯遭受到重大打擊.我不知道該不該告訴你,但是我需要一些同情 - 沈默的同情,請不要在你的回信提及此事重啟我的傷口.

I've been writing a book, all last winter in the evenings, and all the summer when I wasn't teaching Latin to my two stupid children. I just finished it before college opened and sent it to a publisher. He kept it two months, and I was certain he was going to take it; but yesterday morning an express parcel came (thirty cents due) and there it was back again with a letter from the publisher, a very nice, fatherly letter—but frank! He said he saw from the address that I was still at college, and if I would accept some advice, he would suggest that I put all of my energy into my lessons and wait until I graduated before beginning to write. He enclosed his reader's opinion. Here it is:

我一直在寫一本書,去年冬天的每個晚上,還有夏天當我沒有在教我那兩個笨小孩拉丁文時.開學前不久我寫完了,並寄給一家出版社.他把我的書留了兩個月,在我很確定我的書會被採用時,昨天早上快遞送來一份包裹,裏面是我的書和出版社寫的一封信,充滿善意且慈愛的信 - 但也很坦白.信中說從我的地址判斷我還是大學生,如果我願意接受他的意見,他建議我先專心讀書,畢業後再開始寫作.他附上他的讀者的意見,如下:

'Plot highly improbable. Characterization exaggerated. Conversation unnatural. A good deal of humour but not always in the best of taste. Tell her to keep on trying, and in time she may produce a real book.'


Not on the whole flattering, is it, Daddy? And I thought I was making a notable addition to American literature. I did truly. I was planning to surprise you by writing a great novel before I graduated. I collected the material for it while I was at Julia's last Christmas. But I dare say the editor is right. Probably two weeks was not enough in which to observe the manners and customs of a great city.


I took it walking with me yesterday afternoon, and when I came to the gas house, I went in and asked the engineer if I might borrow his furnace. He politely opened the door, and with my own hands I chucked it in. I felt as though I had cremated my only child!


I went to bed last night utterly dejected; I thought I was never going to amount to anything, and that you had thrown away your money for nothing. But what do you think? I woke up this morning with a beautiful new plot in my head, and I've been going about all day planning my characters, just as happy as I could be. No one can ever accuse me of being a pessimist! If I had a husband and twelve children swallowed by an earthquake one day, I'd bob up smilingly the next morning and commence to look for another set.







14th December

Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

I dreamed the funniest dream last night. I thought I went into a book store and the clerk brought me a new book named The Life and Letters of Judy Abbott. I could see it perfectly plainly—red cloth binding with a picture of the John Grier Home on the cover, and my portrait for a frontispiece with, 'Very truly yours, Judy Abbott,' written below. But just as I was turning to the end to read the inscription on my tombstone, I woke up. It was very annoying! I almost found out whom I'm going to marry and when I'm going to die.



昨晚我做了一個最有趣的夢.我夢見進去一間書店,店員拿了一本書給我,書名是“茱蒂愛柏的一生與書信.”我可以清清楚楚的看到這本書 - 紅色布面裝訂,封面是一張孤兒院的照片,前頁是我的畫像,下方署名“非常真摯的,茱蒂愛柏”.就在我翻到結尾要讀我的墓誌銘時,我醒了.真是令人生氣.我就快要發現我會嫁給誰,以及何時會離開這個世界.

Don't you think it would be interesting if you really could read the story of your life—written perfectly truthfully by an omniscient author? And suppose you could only read it on this condition: that you would never forget it, but would have to go through life knowing ahead of time exactly how everything you did would turn out, and foreseeing to the exact hour the time when you would die. How many people do you suppose would have the courage to read it then? or how many could suppress their curiosity sufficiently to escape from reading it, even at the price of having to live without hope and without surprises?

如果可以真的讀到你的人生故事 - 出於一位全知的作者之手 - 你不覺得會很有意思嗎?假設你只能在一個條件下預先閱讀你的人生,那就是你讀過後永遠不會忘記,此後不管你人生遭遇到什麼事,你都早已預先知道你所做所為的後果如何,而且預先看到自己離開人世的確切時間.你覺得會有多少人有勇氣事先閱讀自己的一生?有多少人可以克制自己的好奇心而不去閱讀?即使代價是沒有希望沒有驚喜的活著?

Life is monotonous enough at best; you have to eat and sleep about so often. But imagine how DEADLY monotonous it would be if nothing unexpected could happen between meals. Mercy! Daddy, there's a blot, but I'm on the third page and I can't begin a new sheet.


I'm going on with biology again this year—very interesting subject; we're studying the alimentary system at present. You should see how sweet a cross-section of the duodenum of a cat is under the microscope.

今年我修了生物學 - 一個非常有趣的科目;目前我們正讀到營養系統.你真該看看在顯微鏡下貓的十二指腸的橫切面多麼有意思.

Also we've arrived at philosophy—interesting but evanescent. I prefer biology where you can pin the subject under discussion to a board. There's another! And another! This pen is weeping copiously. Please excuse its tears.

我還修了哲學 - 很有趣但逐漸消失中.我比較喜歡生物學,因為你可以把討論的主題釘在板子上.又來了一個墨水漬!又一個!這支筆的淚腺發達.請原諒它的淚水.

Do you believe in free will? I do—unreservedly. I don't agree at all with the philosophers who think that every action is the absolutely inevitable and automatic resultant of an aggregation of remote causes. That's the most immoral doctrine I ever heard—nobody would be to blame for anything. If a man believed in fatalism, he would naturally just sit down and say, 'The Lord's will be done,' and continue to sit until he fell over dead.

你相信自由意志嗎?我相信 - 毫無保留的.哲學家說每一個行為來自於遙遠的因素的聚集,無可避免的自動造成的後果,我完全不同意.那是我聽過最謬誤的理論 - 沒有人應該為任何事而遭受責難.如果一個人相信宿命論,他只會坐下來並說,“讓上帝完成其旨意,”然後繼續那麼坐著直到死亡.

I believe absolutely in my own free will and my own power to accomplish—and that is the belief that moves mountains. You watch me become a great author! I have four chapters of my new book finished and five more drafted.

我全然的相信我的自由意志和力量 - 那是一股可以移山的信念.你等著看我成為一個出色的作家吧!我已經寫了完整的四章,另外五章的草稿也已完成.

This is a very abstruse letter—does your head ache, Daddy? I think we'll stop now and make some fudge. I'm sorry I can't send you a piece; it will be unusually good, for we're going to make it with real cream and three butter balls.

                       Yours affectionately,

這是一封很有深度的信 - 你有讀到頭痛嗎,Daddy?我想我得停筆去做些牛奶糖.真可惜不能寄一些給你,這回我們做的牛奶糖會特別好吃,因為我們要用真正的鮮奶油和三顆奶油球.



PS. We're having fancy dancing in gymnasium class. You can see by the accompanying picture how much we look like a real ballet. The one at the end accomplishing a graceful pirouette is me—I mean I.

PS    體育課我們上了好玩的舞蹈課.從以下我畫的圖片你可以看到我們多像真正的芭蕾舞者.最後面在完成腳尖旋轉舞步的人是我.(註)





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