2009年1月28日 星期三

A Relentless Updike Mapped America's Mysteries

A Relentless Updike Mapped America's Mysteries

Robert Spencer for The New York Times

John Updike at the Boston Public Library in 2006. More Photos >

Published: January 27, 2009

Endowed with an art student's pictorial imagination, a journalist's sociological eye and a poet's gift for metaphor, John Updike — who died on Tuesday at 76 — was arguably this country's one true all-around man of letters. He moved fluently from fiction to criticism, from light verse to short stories to the long-distance form of the novel: a literary decathlete in our age of electronic distraction and willful specialization, Victorian in his industriousness and almost blogger-like in his determination to turn every scrap of knowledge and experience into words.

It is as a novelist who opened a big picture window on the American middle class in the second half of the 20th century, however, that he will be best remembered. In his most resonant work, Mr. Updike gave "the mundane its beautiful due," as he once put it, memorializing the everyday mysteries of love and faith and domesticity with extraordinary nuance and precision. In Kodachrome-sharp snapshots, he gave us the 50's and early 60's of suburban adultery, big cars and wide lawns, radios and hi-fi sets, and he charted the changing landscape of the 70's and 80's, as malls and subdivisions swallowed up small towns and sexual and social mores underwent a bewildering metamorphosis.

Mr. Updike's four keenly observed Rabbit novels ("Rabbit, Run," 1960; "Rabbit Redux," 1971; "Rabbit Is Rich," 1981; and "Rabbit at Rest," 1990) chronicled the adventures of one Harry Rabbit Angstrom — high school basketball star turned car salesman, householder and errant husband — and his efforts to cope with the seismic public changes (from feminism to the counterculture to antiwar protests) that rattled his cozy nest. Harry, who self-importantly compared his own fall from grace to this country's waning power, his business woes to the national deficit, was both a representative American of his generation and a kind of scientific specimen — an index to the human species and its propensity for doubt and narcissism and self immolation.

In fulfilling Stendhal's classic definition of a novel as "a mirror that strolls along a highway," reflecting both the "blue of the skies" and "the mud puddles underfoot," the Rabbit novels captured four decades of middle-class American life. Mr. Updike's stunning and much underestimated 1996 epic, "In the Beauty of the Lilies," tackled an even wider swath of history. In charting the fortunes of an American family through some 80 years, the author showed how dreams, habits and predilections are handed down generation to generation, parent to child, even as he created a kaleidoscopic portrait of this country from its nervous entry into the 20th century to its stumbling approach to the millennium.

Producing roughly a book or so a year, Mr. Updike tried throughout his career to stretch his imagination. To the novels starring Rabbit — perhaps the self Mr. Updike might have been had he not become a writer — he added a series of books about Bech, another alter ego described as a "recherché but amiable" Jewish novelist afflicted with acute writer's block. While Bech boasted a modest oeuvre of seven books and remained a second-string cult author, his creator was blessed, as he once wrote of Nabokov, with an "ebullient creativity," and his work, too, gave the happy impression of "a continuous task carried forward variously, of a solid personality, of a plentitude of gifts explored, knowingly."

In other novels, Mr. Updike ventured even farther afield. "The Centaur" (1963) infused Joycean myth into its tender portrait of a well-meaning schoolteacher. "The Coup" (1978) conjured up an imaginary African kingdom called Kush and its imperial leader Colonel Ellelloû. And "The Witches of Eastwick" (1984) and its sequel, "The Widows of Eastwick" (2008), depicted heroines who were supernatural sorceresses with the power to conjure and maim. These experiments did not always work. "S." (1988) used Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter" as a jumping-off point for a crude attack on feminists. "Seek My Face" (2002) devolved into a ham-handed and thoroughly unconvincing improvisation on the life of Jackson Pollock. And "Brazil" (1994), brimming over with undigested research and bad dialogue, stood as an embarrassing effort to translate the Tristan and Iseult legend to South America.

Indeed Mr. Updike's strongest work remained tethered to the small town and suburban worlds he knew firsthand, just as many of his heroes shared the same sort of existential fears the author acknowledged he had suffered as a young man: Henry Bech's concern that he was "a fleck of dust condemned to know it is a fleck of dust," or Colonel Ellelloû's lament that "we will be forgotten, all of us forgotten." Their fear of death threatens to make everything they do feel meaningless, and it also sends them running after God — looking for some reassurance that there is something beyond the familiar, everyday world with "its signals and buildings and cars and bricks."

But if their yearnings after salvation pulled them in one direction, Mr. Updike's heroes also found themselves tempted by sex and romantic misalliances in the here and now. Caught on the margins of a changing morality, unable to forget the old pieties and taboos and yet unable to resist the 60's promise of sex without consequences, these men vacillate between duty and self-fulfillment, a craving for roots and a hungering after freedom. As the author himself once put it, his heroes "oscillate in their moods between an enjoyment of the comforts of domesticity and the familial life, and a sense that their essential identity is a solitary one — to be found in flight and loneliness and even adversity. This seems to be my feeling of what being a male human being involves."

Although Mr. Updike's earliest stories could sound self consciously writerly and derivative — at their worst, O'Hara without the bite, Cheever without the magic — he soon found his own inimitable voice with "Pigeon Feathers" and "Rabbit, Run." Over the years, the stories and novels tended to track Mr. Updike's own life: couples wooed and wed and went their separate ways, and the hormonal urges of youth slowly became the quiescence of middle age.

In a series of overlapping stories about Joan and Richard Maple (collected in "Too Far to Go"), Mr. Updike created an indelible two-decade-long portrait of a marriage, chronicling how one couple created and then dismantled a life together, while tracing the imprint that time and age left on their relationship. Many of his later stories and novels seemed preoccupied with mortality and the ravages of time, featuring characters grappling with the looming prospect of their own demise with a mixture of anger, grace and resignation and looking back upon their youth in an often cloudy rear view mirror.

As for Mr. Updike's collections of nonfiction (including "Hugging the Shore," "Odd Jobs" and "Due Considerations"), they not only showcased his copious gifts as a critic — as a celebrant of other artists' work and a sometimes acerbic literary anthropologist — but they also attested to his compulsion to enclose between the covers of a book every snippet of his work. These volumes featured thoughtful musings on contemporaries like Saul Bellow and Norman Mailer, and erudite essays on masters like Melville and Hawthorne, but they also included such effluvia as picture captions the author wrote for a Playboy spread on Marilyn Monroe and dutiful responses to questions posed by magazines ("What is your favorite spot in and around Harvard?").

In one of these collections, Mr. Updike summed up his love of his vocation: "From earliest childhood I was charmed by the materials of my craft, by pencils and paper and, later, by the typewriter and the entire apparatus of printing. To condense from one's memories and fantasies and small discoveries dark marks on paper which become handsomely reproducible many times over still seems to me, after nearly 30 years concerned with the making of books, a magical act, and a delightful technical process. To distribute oneself thus, as a kind of confetti shower falling upon the heads and shoulders of mankind out of bookstores and the pages of magazines is surely a great privilege and a defiance of the usual earthbound laws whereby human beings make themselves known to one another."


  • 2009年01月28日 05:09 発信地:ニューヨーク/米国
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米ニューヨーク(New York)の国連(UN)本部で記者会見に臨む作家ジョン・アップダイク(John Updike)さん(2004年11月30日撮影)。(c)AFP/Mandel NGAN

【1月28日 AFP】(一部更新)ピュリツァー賞(Pulitzer Prize)を2度受賞した米国の作家、ジョン・アップダイク(John Updike)氏が27日、マサチューセッツ(Massachusetts)州で肺がんのため死去した。76歳。出版大手のアルフレッド・A・クノッフ(Alfred A. Knopf)社が伝えた。


「アップダイク氏は、別の時代から現れた幻影のように、現代文学のシーンをさまよっていた。米国文学の最後の偉人だ」とウェブサイト「The Salon」は掲載している。

 半世紀にわたる作家生活の中で、『走れウサギ(Rabbit, Run)』で始まる「ウサギ」シリーズなどを残し、ピュリツァー賞を2度受賞。誰もが知る作家となった。

 詩作もしたアップダイク氏の作品は叙情的で、読みやすかった。25作の小説に加え、少なくとも12作の短編集と、100点以上の短編、詩、文芸批評を発表し、米誌ニューヨーカー(New Yorker)には書評も寄せた。




 Academy of Achievementによれば、「アップダイク氏は乾癬や口ごもり、病気のせいで友だちと一緒に遊ぶことはできなかった。執筆に慰めを見出し、ハーバード大学(Harvard University)で奨学金をもらった」という。


 1958年には詩集『The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures』を発表。デビュー小説『プアハウス・フェア(The Poorhouse Fair)』は好評で、次に発表した『走れウサギ』はさらに評価が高かった。

『走れウサギ』の主人公ハリー・アングストローム(Harry Angstrom)の性的行動の描写は当時としては衝撃的だったが、修正を加えると幅広い支持を獲得した。その後に印刷された『走れウサギ』では、当初の表現に戻されている。



 こうしたテーマは、喜劇的な要素、米国東海岸という舞台設定と共に、1968年の『カップルズ(Couples)』や1984年の『イーストウィックの魔女たち(Witches of Eastwick)』など、アップダイク氏の作品のいたる所に見られる。ロードアイランド(Rhode Island)州の小さな町と魔女、性を描いた『イーストウィックの魔女たち』は、ハリウッド(Hollywood)で映画化された。

 2008年には、『イーストウィックの魔女たち』の続編で、アップダイク氏最後の小説となった『The Widows of Eastwick』が発表された。(c)AFP

2009年1月26日 星期一

呂赫若 陳本江

二二八事件之後的呂赫若 (孫康宜 撰;傅 爽 譯)

   小說家呂赫若(一九一四—一九五一),人稱「台灣第一才子」,他生逢的時代,是台灣歷史上的一個充滿傷痛的過渡時期。呂赫若飽受戰亂折磨,同時對自己的 政治身份深感困惑,可謂當時痛苦掙扎中的台灣知識分子的代表。身為台灣殖民地的「日本良民」,呂赫若深惡大和帝國——儘管直至一九四五年日本戰敗,他才敢 於在文學作品中表達自己的憤恨之情。那時候,在長達半個世紀的日據時期結束後,中國收回台灣的主權,台灣人再次效忠中國(中國在戰時屬於「敵人」的陣 營),呂赫若跟眾多台灣人一樣倍感振奮。因此,一九四五年他甚至加入過蘇新和吳新榮發起的三民主義青年團。然而,他和友人們很快對國民黨政府感到失望,棄 團而去。此後,呂赫若投身於隨二二八事件而至的地下政治運動的洪流中。他最終逃亡到鹿窟山區,與其他左翼分子會合,並於一九五一年犧牲,埋骨青山。

   此處談到的呂赫若簡略生平,直到一九八七年台灣戒嚴法取消後,才為公眾所知,作家如藍博洲等才被允許公開發表作品來紀念二二八事件的犧牲者,以及那個暴 力年代不計其數的受難者。然而,二二八事件的餘波及相關的政治審查制度讓這段重構的歷史遺失了很多重要環節。其中一個重要的「遺失環節」,就是呂赫若和一 些重要左翼知識分子之間的聯繫。我的舅父陳本江(或陳大川,一九一五—一九六七),以鹿窟事件中的領袖人物而聞名,他正是這些左翼知識分子中的重要一員。 本文嘗試探討他與呂赫若之間的聯繫。



   在幾乎所有關於呂赫若的傳記性記述中,關於他和陳本江的關係以及逃亡鹿窟山那一部分均極其簡略。這可能是因為,當時國民政府推行「寧可錯殺一千,不可錯 過一個」的恐怖政策,故呂赫若和他的朋友盡力隱藏行蹤。顯然,儘管呂赫若四十五年前的日文日記簿被保存了下來,由於白色恐怖,他的親友和追隨者還是隱藏或 毀掉了他的信件和手稿,令很多關於呂赫若的寶貴資料最終在歷史上銷聲匿舻。

 但最重要的是,我懷疑,是國民黨政府造成了最關鍵環節的遺失。他們不願讓鹿 窟事件的歷史真相大白於天下,唯恐青年一代追隨早期左翼激進分子的行舻。因此,鹿窟事件成了台灣的禁忌話題,從沒有人敢於公開談論,甚至時至今日幾乎沒有 人了解這幕真實的迫害曾經在台灣發生過。直到二〇〇一年「二二八紀念館」於台灣建成之時,人們才終於了解鹿窟事件(該事件發生於二二八事件不久之後)是一 九五〇年代意義重大的事件之一。

   鹿窟事件,是指一九五二年十二月二十九日,軍警開入鹿窟山,槍殺三十六人,另將九十七位熱血志士投入監獄。這事件的細節在紀念館中雖然有所備份,但是鹿 窟組織主要領導者的姓名卻未透露。他們對於這樁血案的解釋僅有寥寥數語:「涉案者中,從外地進入山區的主謀可能是社會主義者。」上面描述的那個「社會主義 者主謀」,就是陳本江。而呂赫若就是另一個「從外地進入山區」的「主謀」,只是在一九五二年鹿窟事件爆發之前,他已於一年前去世。


   然而,由於現存資料的缺乏,呂赫若一九四七年後的地下經歷依然是一個謎。但是我相信我們使用一種與以往不同的調查方式是很重要的——這種方式涉及到內心 世界的探究,並可以幫助我們解開這個「謎」。比如說,如果我們更加細心地考察他和他的同志們身處那個時代的壓力,我們將會從呂赫若的傳記中得到什麼呢?或 者,呂赫若和他的好友們的某些內心經歷,由於政治迫害的原因而不見史傳,這些內心經歷到底是什麼呢?


   或許我們從重建歷史缺失的記錄入手。從可靠的第一手口述中,我相信呂赫若與陳本江曾建立了深厚的友誼。而且,陳本江或許是二二八事件後呂赫若加入左翼組 織「台灣省工作委員會」的主要原因。雖然我們缺少呂赫若在二二八事件後的紀錄,但有一件事情我們可以肯定,那就是在呂赫若發表的最後一部小說《冬夜》後, 他的政治觀點急劇轉變。在經歷了國民黨政府統治下的種種折磨後——如果我們讀出了《冬夜》中寓言的意義——呂赫若最終在社會主義中找到了台灣未來嶄新的 「希望」,雖然那種「希望」在今天看來過於理想化。但通過觀察他的左翼活動,至少能夠更加接近他所處的那個時代的真相。

在二二八事件以後,左翼分子的人數急劇增加。之前只有約七十人加入了台灣工委 會,但事件之後,該組織的成員激增到約九百人。正是在這個時代轉捩點,陳本江出現在歷史的舞台上。當時,他是一個在日本和中國大陸都受過教育的三十二歲的 台灣人,戰後由北京返回台灣,直接在台灣省工委會的首腦蔡孝乾的領導下工作。陳本江是一個真正的知識分子和一個熱切擁抱西方思想的讀者,他所熱愛的西方作 家包括康德、黑格爾、卡萊爾和馬克思。他有一個獨特的教育背景﹕在日本佔領期間,他的父母不允許他在台灣上學,而是讓他在鼓浪嶼的一所教會高中就學。一九 四三年從日本早稻田大學畢業後(政經專業),他遷回北京並開始在北京大學教書。據說在那之後,陳本江變成了駐京台灣學生會的積極成員。在北京期間,陳本江 目睹了由通貨膨脹帶來的極大恐慌,在通貨膨脹的時候,有錢人也買不到米。他經常在冬天的清晨看到橫七豎八的屍體散布在北京的街道上。正是在那個時候,他決 定加入左翼組織。


   從可利用的資料來看,我懷疑呂赫若是通過一個新的社會主義皈依者蘇新開始認識陳本江的。(蘇新,呂的密友之一,一九四七年三月開始為《中外日報》工作, 當時陳就是這家報社的參事。)在蘇新逃亡回國內之後(一九四七年)呂赫若開始與陳本江和其他左翼分子如陳文彬建立了友誼。作為一個熱情的知識分子,呂赫若 一定十分珍惜他和陳本江的友誼,因為陳滿懷烏托邦式理想,是個不折不扣的理想主義者。而且,陳非常了解馬克思、黑格爾等人的哲學體系,這也正是呂赫若所一 直熱衷的。尤其在看到陳本江對社會主義的革命熱情並聽到他在中國的親身經歷時,呂一定經歷一個內心世界的根本轉變,以至於他決定加入到台灣工委會領導的左 翼運動中去,而陳本江恰恰就是工委會的領導者之一。

   當然,在二人相識之前,呂赫若經歷過漫長的對文化身份的探求,他已經對社會主義非常感興趣了,無論是在思想上還是政治上。不過似乎是呂在認識陳本江之 後,才下定決心加入地下左翼組織。畢竟,他們志趣相投。他們同在台灣出生,年齡只差一歲,對日本帝國主義的殖民主義深懷不滿。作為台灣人,呂、陳二人都感 到他們命中注定生活在社會的邊緣。那個時候的台灣,最好的學校是為日本人準備的,在皇民化時期,台灣人必須放棄自己的閩南話,被迫講日語。在那段歷史時期 成長起來的台灣人受盡創傷。(或許這就是呂赫若之所以經常用女性受的壓抑來象徵那些處於受害者地位的台灣人的原因。)


   台灣人民在日據時期受的種種創傷,在呂赫若戰後的中文小說中有所體現。這種創傷對像陳本江這樣的台灣知識分子尤其顯得感同身受﹕陳在青年時代選擇離開台 灣,恰恰是為了躲避日本殖民者的虐待與歧視。與他們在台灣的屈辱經歷相比,作為「外國」學生,在日本卻受到了尊重。而呂赫若也曾赴日學習音樂,並在那裏度 過了兩年的幸福時光。


   在一九四五年日本投降以前,呂赫若是用日語創作所有作品的,因為他最初受到的是日本語言文學的培養。但隨覑年齡的增長,他逐漸生出一種強烈的回歸本土的 渴望。比如,早在二戰結束之前(一九四三年),呂赫若已經有學習中文的熱情,這促使他努力鑽研國學經典。在一九四三年六月七日的日記中,他寫道:


   同時,呂赫若也努力地讓自己熟悉中國小說。據他的朋友巫永福透露,呂赫若尤其醉心於《金瓶梅》。他還有一本寶貴的注解版《紅樓夢》,無疑他曾經研究過這 部偉大的著作。所有的這些都顯示出在台灣這個日據殖民地,在一個中國文學已經不再流行的時代,呂赫若是如何向這類文學致敬的。此外,為了提高寫作熟練度, 他在戰後馬上成為了《人民導報》和《自由報》的記者。因此,他能夠在一九四五年完全轉向中文寫作。


   呂赫若對中國語言和文學的熱愛與他那些中文出版界的左翼朋友的影響是密不可分的。正如台灣作家藍博洲所示,呂四部中文小說中的三部,都是由他的左翼朋友 蘇新主編的雜誌《政經報》和《台灣文化》發表。此外,呂為《人民導報》工作時,當時該報的主筆正是陳文彬。蘇新和陳文彬分別於一九四七年和一九四九年逃回 中國大陸。呂赫若和陳本江終於也在台北創辦了大安印刷廠,從事中文音樂書籍的刊印,同時秘密印刷與社會主義有關的極具政治敏感性的手冊和文件。然而,迄今 為止,除了一些音樂讀本外,我們沒有發現任何由大安印刷的呂赫若作品。因此,為什麼呂赫若在二二八事件之後停止寫作,抑或他確實寫了某些東西但之後由於政 治審查的原因被毀掉了,依然是一個謎。而且,似乎陳本江曾經以表現左翼情緒的武俠小說的形式創作過一些作品,並署有「紅豆公主」的筆名,但不幸的是今天很 難重獲這些作品了。不論怎樣,印刷廠似乎起了一種掩護的作用——用來暗中進行他們的地下活動。很顯然,呂和陳都沒有被那個時代的危險嚇倒,兩人都願意為這 份新的事業犧牲生命。

根據一篇報道,在一九四九年上半年,呂赫若在台中的家鄉潭子變賣了全部家當, 為了他在台灣的新「出版」事業(或者說是「政治」事業),傾其所有。同時,陳本江也在過一種極端清苦的生活,因為他在堅持不懈地為籌資建造印刷廠而節衣縮 食。陳本江最終成功地從劉明先生那裏得到了大筆的捐贈。劉是一位從事煤礦業的巨富,這筆捐贈大約有當時的台灣貨幣一億元。從一開始,大安印刷廠就被用作左 翼知識分子的秘密聚會場所,他們在這裏見面並交流看法。


   然而,噩夢忽然降臨到這個左翼知識分子團體,在一九四九年,他們得到消息說政府要逮捕他們。就在那時,陳本江走進了鹿窟山,呂赫若緊隨其後。同時,許多 左翼知識分子——包括不計其數被牽連的無辜者——被捕並入獄數年,比如贊助人劉明。而在台灣歷史上,這僅是白色恐怖的開始。

   很多年來,我經常想,像呂赫若和陳本江這樣的知識分子算不算是被「逼上梁山」的典型呢?鹿窟山的左翼集團被國民黨宣布為「鹿窟武裝基地」。但事實上,鹿 窟地區並沒有配備任何武器;這個團體僅由十數個左翼知識分子和一些當地村民組成。但當國民黨特務於一九五二年十二月開進鹿窟山襲擊鹿窟基地時,他們帶來了 軍隊,人數多達一萬多人。大舉圍攻之後,鹿窟村完全被夷平。因此,在我看來,因為一些國民黨特務企圖為迫害左翼知識分子尋找藉口,並以此來取悅蔣介石政 府,所以他們很可能故意誇大了鹿窟「武裝基地」的規模。

   然而,呂赫若未能反抗國民黨一九五二年發動的襲擊,因為他已經在一九五一年中蛇毒去世。根據一些目擊者的磘述,就在呂被蛇咬之後,一個朋友立刻奔回城裏 為他取藥。可惜太遲了,呂赫若在三天後咽下了最後一口氣。他死之後,他的朋友(陳春慶是其中之一)把他的屍體包在草席裏葬於一堆亂石之下——無意之中,一 語成讖,他的原名「呂石堆」竟在這時得到驗證。去世時,年僅三十七歲。

   在另一方面,陳本江一直活到一九六七年,在那一年,他在台北市的一條街上死於腦溢血。不過,在他人生最後的十五年中,陳時刻受到國民黨秘密員警的監視, 行為非常低調。用「行屍走肉」來形容他最後的歲月,並不誇張。他本想為自由而戰,卻一切成空,這可能是最終導致他五十二歲就英年早逝的原因。

鹿窟事件依然是台灣歷史上最具悲劇性的篇章之一。不幸的是,呂赫若和陳本江都 沒有給我們留下有關他們的鹿窟歲月的日記或回憶錄。在他們的心中,自由和公正是他們最為寶貴的理想。然而,在政治迫害的年代,沒有什麼曾經慰藉過他們的在 天之靈,連紀念的文字也沒有,在生之人難免為之神傷。不過,至少他們給我們留下了一筆精神財富——即使成敗已定,危亡可待,仍然拒絕放棄自己的理想。












2009年1月25日 星期日

Yu Hua 余华

Yu Hua (simplified Chinese: 余华; traditional Chinese: 余華; pinyin: Yú Huá) is a Chinese author, born on April 3, 1960 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. He studied dentistry but soon decided to write fiction in 1983 because it allowed him to be more creative and flexible. He grew up during the Cultural Revolution so many of his stories and novels are marked by this experience. Some[who?] have called his early work brutal.

Yu Hua has so far written four novels, six collections of stories, and three collections of essays. His most important novels are Chronicle of a Blood Merchant and To Live. The latter novel was adapted for film by Zhang Yimou. Because the film was banned in China, it instantly made the novel a bestseller and Yu Hua a worldwide celebrity. His novels have been translated into English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Swedish, Japanese, Korean and Malayalam.

[edit] Works

Short Stories


[edit] External links

The Bonfire of China’s Vanities

Published: January 23, 2009

One cold afternoon last fall I met Yu Hua at the state-run Friendship Hotel in Beijing. Cheerfully, he described to me the incipient international fame of his most recent novel, “Brothers,” one of China’s biggest-selling literary works. He had just returned from Hong Kong, where the novel was short-listed for the Man Asian Prize; he was leaving soon for Paris to receive an award for the book, which had just been translated into French. With the breezy insouciance that unbroken success creates, Yu then began to recount a somewhat irreverent memory of Mao Zedong’s death.

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Photograph by Gueorgui Pinkhassov/magnumphotos.com

Photograph by Gueorgui Pinkhassov/magnumphotos.com

Though nearly 50, Yu, who wears his hair short and spiky, looks relatively young. He speaks in emphatic bursts, his face often flushing red, and he is quick to laugh. It was, in fact, his boisterous laugh that almost got him into trouble on the morning of the solemn announcement of Mao’s death. Responding to orders that blared out from loudspeakers, he assembled with hundreds of other students in the main hall of his small-town high school. “Funereal music was played, and then we had to hear the long list of titles that preceded Mao’s name, ‘Chairman,’ ‘Beloved Leader,’ ‘Great helmsman . . . ,’ ” Yu recalled. “Everyone loved Chairman Mao, of course, so when his name was finally announced, everyone burst into tears. I started crying, too, but one person crying is a sad sight; more than a thousand people crying together, the sound echoing, turns into a funny spectacle, so I began to laugh. My body shook with my effort to control my laughter while I bent over the chair in front of me. The class leader later told me, admiringly, ‘Yu Hua, you were crying so fervently!’ ”

He paused, and then jumped 13 years to a memory of another momentous — and more traumatic — event in China’s modern history. In the spring of 1989, when tens of thousands of protesters filled Tiananmen Square, Yu was living in Beijing, partaking of the cultural excitement and political hopefulness of post-Mao China. Already a major figure in the city’s artistic avant garde, Yu biked every day to Tiananmen Square to express solidarity with the student protesters.

As Yu described the widespread civilian support for the students, a note of passion entered his voice, and the menu he had elegantly snagged off a passing waiter lay open and unread in his lap. “The word ‘people’ was much used in the Cultural Revolution,” he said. “It is a very loaded term in China, it is used a lot, but until the mass protests in 1989 I did not realize what the word meant.”

His voice grew louder as he recalled the bloody suppression and aftermath of the protests. I became nervous. Yu, a short, thickset man with bulging eyes, could easily pass unnoticed in a crowd of Chinese peasants and workers, but he does not exactly strive for self-effacement. We were sitting in the corner of the hotel lobby, partly concealed by a large pillar and surrounded by a thick fog of cigarette smoke. Yu, a restless chain smoker, insists on ignoring China’s new ban on smoking in public places.

The hotel was full that day of young executives from nearby I.T. offices­, any one of whom might have recognized Yu, who is frequently mentioned as a likely candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Though official repression of the memory of Tiananmen has ensured that few young Chinese know much about the struggles for democracy waged in the 1980s, cybersavvy youth of the kind we were surrounded by are still likely to take a sternly nationalistic line with a Chinese writer or intellectual criticizing the events of June 1989 to a foreigner. Indeed, as Yu spoke, a trendily dressed young woman looked up from the glowing screen of her laptop to squint at him.

Yu seemed totally oblivious to potential eavesdroppers. His face was red as he came to end of his memory of 1989. Turning to me, he said: “Sorry to take off like that. But this was a big turning point for all of us. After June 1989 people in China lost interest in politics. In 1992 Deng Xiaoping made his famous ‘Southern Tour,’ calling for faster market reforms, and the economy started to take off. The ideals of nation and socialism began to look empty. People became focused on making money.

“I, too, began to enjoy the fruits of capitalism,” he added, and laughed.

YYu was only partly joking. For someone who started out in China’s brief moment of counterculture in the 1980s as a writer of bleak, experimental and defiantly unsalable stories, Yu has gone on to receive an ample share of the fruits of capitalism. Published in two parts in 2005 and 2006, “Brothers,” which traces the fortunes of two stepbrothers from the Cultural Revolution to China’s no-less-frenzied Consumer Revolution, has sold more than a million copies in China, not counting the probably higher sales of innumerable pirated editions.

The novel, which will be published in an English translation later this month, may also prove to be China’s first successful export of literary fiction. Certainly, foreign readers will find in its sprawling, rambunctious narrative some of China’s most frenetic transformations and garish contradictions. “Brothers” strikes its characteristic tone with the very first scene, as Li Guang, a business tycoon, sits on his gold-plated toilet, dreaming of space travel even as he mourns the loss of all earthly relations. Li made his money from various entrepreneurial ventures, including hosting a beauty pageant for virgins and selling scrap metal and knockoff designer suits. A quick flashback to his small-town childhood shows him ogling the bottoms of women defecating in a public toilet. Similarly grotesque images proliferate over the next 600 pages as Yu describes, first, the extended trauma of the Cultural Revolution, during which Li and his stepbrother Song Gang witness Red Guards torturing Song Gang’s father to death, and then the moral wasteland of capitalist China, in which Song Gang is forced to surgically enlarge one of his breasts in order to sell breast-enlargement gels.

Pankaj Mishra is the author, most recently, of “Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond.” He last wrote for the magazine about the Egyptian novelist Alaa Al Aswany.




[編輯] 近況

  • 2005年8月出版最新作品《兄弟》(上);
  • 2006年4月出版《兄弟》(下);

[編輯] 作品

  • 長篇小說:《活着》、《許三觀賣血記》、《在細雨中呼喊》、《兄弟》;
  • 中篇小說集:《鮮血梅花》、《現實一種》、《我膽小如鼠》、《戰慄》;
  • 隨筆集:《溫暖和百感交集的旅程》、《音樂影響了我的寫作》、《沒有一條道路是重複的》、《靈魂飯》。

[編輯] 獎項

  • 1998年,意大利格林扎納-卡佛文學獎
  • 2002年,澳大利亞懸念句子文學獎
  • 2004年,美國巴恩斯-諾貝爾新發現圖書獎
  • 2004年,法國藝術及文學勳章(騎士級)

[編輯] 外部連結


P.K. is the given-name initials of Chen Pei-Kung, who has probably traveled to more astronomical observatories and dark-sky sites than anyone else. He meets professional astronomers and amateur-astronomy fans around the world as he pursues his passion-photographing celestial sights. Since 1983 P.K. has regularly escaped to Lan-Yu, a small island near Taiwan that has a sky free from light and air pollution. And he frequently carries his camera and other instruments to Mount Jade, the highest point in Taiwan. But during the past two decades he has become a well-known world traveler, trekking from Mongolia to the Australian Outback and Mauna Kea in Hawaii in search of unique astrophotography opportunities-and dark skies. P.K. believes that "there is always something new that I can do."

In Taiwan he has published more than a dozen books including an autobiography ("Peter Pan Under the Starlight") and two constellation albums. As a photojournalist, his articles and images have appeared in such publications as the New York Times and Sky&Telescope in the United States and the Temmon Guide in Japan. He is currently a contributing photographer of Sky&Telescope and his 2007 book titled "A Constellation Album: Stars and Mythology of the Night Sky" has published by Sky&Telescope.

He often serves as an astronomy instructor at summer camps in Taiwan, and among the children he is known as the "Peter Pan of the Stars".



天文之美不應只屬於天文學家,作為一個優異的天文攝影專家,PK透過他的鏡頭,將宇宙重新包裝呈獻給大眾。如果你不想瞭解恆星到底如何形成和演化,你還是 可以從PK的作品中看到繁星之美,你也可以不用知道太陽如何影響我們所居住的地球,但還是能夠欣賞如天幕般的七彩極光。

當然,除了宇宙天文奧妙無窮的視覺饗宴之外,追尋星星的夢想還是要靠自己的身體力行,才能體會箇中滋味,而本書就是你最佳的觀星夥伴。本書作者PK將自己 數十年觀星和攝影的經驗,配合觀星入門者的需要,由淺入深依序介紹觀星前的準備、天文望遠鏡的解說、四季全天星座的呈現、星座連線想像,天文攝影方法…… 讓你輕鬆的賞星尋夢,為追星的旅程留下永恆的回憶。




2009年1月24日 星期六

The Spotlight Finds Jason Wu

The Spotlight Finds Jason Wu

Michael Appleton for The New York Times

GOWN-IN-WAITING Jason Wu during a fitting with Alison Pill this week at his studio. More Photos >

Published: January 23, 2009

MINUTES before Jason Wu was to become famous as the 26-year-old designer of Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown, he ordered a pepperoni and mushroom pizza from Domino’s at his apartment in Midtown, then sat down with his boyfriend, Gustavo Rangel, and a neighbor to watch the festivities on television.

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Michael Appleton for The New York Times

STAR TURN Michelle Obama chose a gown by the designer Jason Wu, 26, here fitting a look from his spring collection. More Photos »

Like the rest of the world, Mr. Wu had no idea what the new first lady would wear on Tuesday night. He had never met her, nor did he know that the design he had submitted to Mrs. Obama, last November, was being seriously considered. At first he wasn’t even positive that the white chiffon dress she wore, which went by in a blur, was his until the phone began ringing and ringing and ringing.

“It’s difficult to describe,” Mr. Wu said the next afternoon, after appearing on the morning shows and talking endlessly about the symbolism of the dress, the color and the selection of a designer barely known outside the fashion beltway. “I was over the moon. I know I am an unusual choice for a first lady. I didn’t think it was my turn yet.”

In his small studio on West 37th Street, Mr. Wu, with close-cropped hair and a lineless face, wore a cardigan and a necktie and looked like a truant from boarding school. His work space is spotless, with a big rustic slab of wood as a table, which is precisely where the thousands of organza flowers and crystals had been hand-sewn to Mrs. Obama’s dress over many late nights by Mr. Wu and his staff of four.

An assistant popped her head in the room and asked, “Do you want an inside snap or inside buttonholes?” Between interviews, Mr. Wu was working on samples for his fall collection, which will be shown next month.

ALTHOUGH he was already something of a fashion darling — Anna Wintour attended his last show, when he was a finalist for Vogue’s annual prizes for emerging designers — he is expecting a crush of new attention. On Wednesday, Diane Von Furstenberg sent him a congratulatory note, and Parsons the New School for Design issued a press release boasting that Mr. Wu, Isabel Toledo and Narciso Rodriguez, all designers of clothes worn by Mrs. Obama last week, had once studied there (though it did not note that none of them graduated).

“No doubt, this is going to give the business a boost,” he said.

Mr. Wu started the label in 2006 with money from his family and his savings from a job he has held since he was 16, as a freelance designer, and now creative director, for a line of designer dolls called Fashion Royalty and manufactured by Integrity Toys in Chesapeake City, Md. His dolls ($70 to $400) are sold at F. A. O. Schwarz. His evening dresses ($2,990 to $4,700) are sold at Bergdorf Goodman. The word “prodigy” comes to mind when Mr. Wu mentions that his collection is expected to have sales of $4 million this year.

Even when he was 5, growing up in Taipei, Taiwan, his parents, who operate an import-export business, recognized his creative ambitions. His mother sometimes drove him to bridal stores so he could make sketches of the gowns in the windows. When he was 9, the family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where, like many future designers, he began experimenting with fashion by using dolls as mannequins.

He carried on with his hobby as a student at Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Mass., and at the prep school Loomis Chaffee in Windsor, Conn., during a senior year in France and then for three-and-a-half years at Parsons until he left to intern for Mr. Rodriguez.

And if you think this pursuit sounds strange, Mr. Wu would point out, “Vionnet used to have a doll on a piano bench, which she used to drape her couture.”

Mr. Wu’s clothes are most often described as ladylike and seem to belong to an earlier era, meaning polished jackets, flower prints and dresses with nipped waists and teacup skirts. He spends a lot of time at stores around the country, at Satine in Los Angeles, Jeffrey in Atlanta and Ikram in Chicago, developing ideas for specific customers and climates.

It was Ikram Goldman, who has played a behind-the-scenes role in connecting designers with the first lady, who introduced Mr. Wu’s designs to Mrs. Obama. (She had previously worn one of his dresses for an interview with Barbara Walters; she bought it at cost — for a little less than $1,000 — through Ikram, he said.) After the election, Mr. Wu immediately sent sketches to Ms. Goldman.

“The only protocol, to quote Ikram, was that ‘It has to sparkle,’ ” he said.

Ms. Goldman has not spoken publicly about her role.

Two days later, Mr. Wu recalled, Ms. Goldman asked him to make the white dress. It was ready by Thanksgiving, when Mr. Wu, who is 5-foot-7, flew to Chicago, carrying the floor-length gown in a garment bag on his lap and hand-delivered it to Ms. Goldman. He was not paid for that dress or two more colorful designs he submitted later, he said, but made them with the understanding that if Mrs. Obama should end up wearing one, the dress would be donated to the Smithsonian Institution.

“It’s priceless to be a part of history,” Mr. Wu said.

THE symbolism of Mrs. Obama’s choice of such a young American designer is invigorating for the fashion industry, especially at a moment when new companies are facing tight odds of survival.

“I think Jason is supertalented,” said Kristina O’Neill, the fashion features director of Harper’s Bazaar, “and it’s so exciting that she wants to champion young designers.”

Shortly before 5 p.m., Mr. Rangel, who manages the company’s finances, was waiting to take Mr. Wu to a celebratory dinner when Alison Pill, an actress who appears in “Milk,” arrived at the studio. She had come for a fitting of an emerald dress she plans to wear to the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday.

“When I saw the movie,” Mr. Wu told her, “I cried.”

But it was Ms. Pill who appeared star-struck as she replied, “I’m the next Michelle Obama!”

2009年1月20日 星期二

2009年1月12日 星期一

Liebknecht and Luxemburg

On January 15 Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were caught and murdered by the soldiers who held them prisoner.

德国 | 2009.01.12









罗莎.卢森堡和卡尔.李卜克内西Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: 罗莎.卢森堡和卡尔.李卜克内西游 行队伍在沉默中前行,人们一律黑色装扮,走在队列最前方的是德国左翼党领导人。领头人则是该党主席比斯基,“我相信,李卜克内西和卢森堡依旧是工人运动的 表率。他们是两位无可争议的人物。他们为社会公正和和平付出了自己的努力。令我感到遗憾的是,直到今天人们依旧有必要为此继续努力。现在社会公正和社会稳 定更具有现实意义,尤其在全球金融危机爆发后的今天。”

左翼党联邦议会党团主席居西被记者们簇拥,回答了有关对德国统一社会党和前东德历史进行反思,以及左翼党的未来等问题。居西指出,鉴于普遍存在的资 本主义危机,建立社会主义乌托邦再度被看好。居西说:“追求资本积累的资本主义是不会善罢甘休的,它让世界人民,各大陆承担重负,让绝大多数居民承担重 负。所以我认为,应建立另外的社会结构,一个我们不曾有过的社会结构。民主社会主义就是一个前所未有的设想。所以我们必须面对新的挑战。我当然希望我们面 对容易一些的挑战,但事实上这是一项异常艰巨的挑战。”








Annette Miersch

2009年1月11日 星期日

Helen Suzman

Helen Suzman

Jan 8th 2009
From The Economist print edition

Helen Suzman, apartheid-fighter, died on January 1st, aged 91

Getty Images

APPEARANCES deceived where Helen Suzman was concerned. The petite and elegant figure, clad in two-pieces or nicely pressed slacks, her hair Thatcher-perfect, was clearly a denizen of the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, where discreet black domestics clipped the acacias and golf was played at weekends. Houghton, rich and Jewish, was indeed her constituency, and privilege was her life. But there the comfortable impression ended. Among the solid and overwhelmingly male Afrikaners in Parliament, “baying like hounds at a meet”, she was noisy, rude, contemptuous, “thoroughly nasty when I get going”. “A vicious little cat”, said P.W. Botha, South Africa’s prime minister, who often felt her claws in him. “The honourable member does not like me,” he observed once in Parliament. “Like you? I can’t stand you,” came the spitting reply. Verwoerd, an earlier prime minister, a man she admitted she was “scared stiff” of, fared no better. “I have written you off,” he told her. “The whole world has written you off,” she retorted.

Then there were her questions: as many as 200 of them a year, asked in Parliament and recorded in Hansard, on any subject that might embarrass South Africa’s white rulers. How many people were being held without trial? How many blacks were arrested each day for violating the Pass Laws? Why were they being forcibly removed to areas with nothing but rows of tin latrines, where only wattles grew in the sand? Why did the police turn up to remove them at four in the morning? Why did they use rubber bullets to disperse protesting crowds? Was it true that prisoners were kept in solitary confinement, beaten with straps, made to sleep on the floor? On, on, on. One National Party MP said she reminded him of “a cricket in a tree when it is very dry in the bushvelt. His chirping makes you deaf but the tune remains the same.” Botha said her “chattering” was like water dripping on a tin roof. Mrs Suzman was delighted to annoy them in the cause of justice.

Good liberal instincts

In a parliamentary career of 36 years, she spent only six in a party of any size. She quit the paternal United Party in 1959, frustrated that it was so wobbly against apartheid, to join a Progressive Party of 12 members that was wiped out in an election two years later. She was the sole survivor, for 13 years a one-woman opposition to the relentless consolidation of white rule. The small but determined voice of the “neo-communist” and “sickly humanist” would call out “No”—to the Sabotage Act, the Terrorism Act, the Ninety-Day Detention Law—and she would be left sitting alone in a sea of empty green benches.

Her strength was that she knew the facts, and knew her rights. South Africa’s devotion to the Westminster parliamentary system, a figleaf of democracy over barbarism, meant that the Speaker was bound to let this “lone Prog” speak, and ministers had to answer her questions. She was allowed to bring one Private Member’s Motion a year, so she would try single-handedly to repeal the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, or propose a minimum wage for blacks. As an MP, she could also visit prisons and “black spots” barred to the public; which was how she found herself talking to Nelson Mandela in his cell on Robben Island in 1967, or tramping through squatters’ camps of plastic sheets and corrugated iron. She was a precious mouthpiece to the world, as she was also the first resort for communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, banned people, Coloureds resentful of their racial classification, and all the “sad harvest of the seeds of apartheid” that drifted through her office.

Did it make any difference? By 1974, after 20 years in Parliament, Mrs Suzman felt she had achieved little except identity-numbers for policemen, “because it helps to know who is beating you round the head”. She had stopped no law, and white rule was to run on for 20 more years. Her critics on the left always said far more force was needed to remove it. But she did not believe in force. Outsiders thought economic sanctions were the answer: but she did not believe in those, either. Her principles, to which she was always truthful, were those of a good old-fashioned liberal. Free markets, capitalism, the paramountcy of democracy and civil institutions, equal opportunity. She had always argued with her father, Sam Gavronsky, who had emigrated from Lithuania and made a success of the leather-and-soap trade, that blacks were oppressed rather than lazy, and couldn’t build a new life as readily as he had done. But when the African National Congress, once in power, began to impose quotas for blacks in jobs, she naturally and ferociously opposed it.

In many ways black rule proved “a huge disappointment” to her: corrupt, spendthrift, anti-white, and doing little to help the millions of poor blacks whose lot she had tried to improve. Thabo Mbeki’s wilful ignorance over AIDS appalled her. She spoke out about all of it, though the ANC seldom deigned to notice or reply. She was the past. In old age she sometimes seemed just another rich white suburbanite, comfortably behind her security fence, sighing over her whisky and soda about “that president of ours”. But the claws on her “pretty little pink hands” had drawn blood, and they were never retracted.

Robert Frost Inger Christensen

On This Day
January 30, 1963

Robert Frost Dies at 88; Kennedy Leads in Tribute

Special to The New York Times

NEW YORK. A private funeral service, to be attended by members of the family, will be held for Mr. Frost tomorrow. Burial will be in the family plot in Old Bennington, Vt. On Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2 P.M. a public memorial service will be held at Amherst College, Amherst, Mass.

The Frost family suggested that instead of flowers contributions may be made to a Robert Frost fund to establish special chairs for high school teachers. A number of such chairs have already been created in the poet's name, and the project was one in which he was deeply interested. Contributions should be sent to Mr. Frost's publisher, A. C. Edwards of Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 383 Madison Avenue, New York 17, N.Y.

Remarkable In Many Ways

Robert Frost was beyond doubt the only American poet to play a touching personal role at a Presidential inauguration; to report a casual remark of a Soviet dictator that stung officials in Washington, and to twit the Russians about the barrier to Berlin by reading to them, on their own ground, his celebrated poem about another kind of wall.

But it would be much more to the point to say he was also without question the only poet to win four Pulitzer Prizes and, in his ninth decade, to symbolize the rough-hewn individuality of the American creative spirit more than any other man.

Finally, it might have been even more appropriate to link his uniqueness to his breathtaking sense of exactitude in the use of metaphors based on direct observations. "I don't like to write anything I don't see," he told an interviewer in Cambridge, Mass., two days before his 88th birthday.

Thus he recorded timelessly (by matching the sharpest observation with the most exact word) how the swimming buck pushed the "crumpled" water; how the wagon's wheels "freshly sliced" the April mire; how the ice crystals from the frozen birch snapped off and went "avalanching" on the snowy crust.

And to show that this phase of his gift did not blur with age, there was in his last book, published in 1962 by Holt, Rinehart & Winston, a piece called "Pod of the Milkweed." It told of the butterflies clustered on the blossoms so avidly that "They knocked the dyestuff off each others' wings."

He had seen the particular butterflies, most of them Monarchs, just outside his "boating" home at Ripton, Vt., a few years before.

Inauguration Incident

The incident of Jan. 20, 1961--when John F. Kennedy took the oath as President--was perhaps the most dramatic of Mr. Frost's "public" life.

Invited to write a poem for the occasion, he rose to read it. But the blur of the sun and the edge of the wind hampered him; his brief plight was so moving that a photograph of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Mrs. Kennedy and Mrs. Lyndon Johnson watching him won a prize because of the deep apprehension in their faces.

But Frost was not daunted. Aware of the problem, he simply put aside the new poem and recited from memory an old favorite, "The Gift Outright," dating to the nineteen-thirties. It fit the circumstances as snugly as a glove.

Later he took the unread "new" poem, which had been called "The Preface," expanded it from 42 to 77 lines, retitled it "For John F. Kennedy: His Inaugural"--and presented it to the President in March, 1962.

Later that year, Mr. Frost accompanied Stewart L. Udall, Secretary of the Interior, on a visit to Moscow.

A first encounter with Soviet children, studying English, did not encourage the poet. He recognized the problem posed by the language; it was painfully ironic, because he had said years before that poetry was what was "lost in translation." And in Moscow, his first hearers clearly did not understand well in English.

But a few days later, he read "Mending Wall" at a Moscow literary evening. "Something there is that doesn't love a wall," the poem begins. The Russians may not have got the subsequent nuances. But the idea quickly spread that the choice of the poem was not unrelated to the wall partitioning Berlin.

On Sept. 7, the poet had a long talk with Premier Khrushchev. He described the Soviet leader as "no fathead"; as smart, big and "not a coward."

"He's not afraid of us and we're not afraid of him," he added.

Subsequently, Frost reported that Mr. Khrushchev had said the United States was "too liberal to fight." It was this remark that caused a considerable stir in Washington.

Thus in the late years of his life, Frost moved among the mighty. He was a public personage to thousands of persons who had never read his works. But to countless others, loyal and loving to the point of idolatry, he remained not only a poet but the poet of his day.

During the first years of the Kennedy Administration, Frost was unquestionably a kind of celebrity- poet around Washington. His face was seen smiling in the background--and frequently the foreground--of news photographs from the Capitol, and quite often he appeared in public with Democratic politicians.

President Kennedy, when asked why he had requested that Frost speak at the inauguration, praised the "courage, the towering skill and daring" of his fellow New Englander.

Among the many things that both shared was the high esteem of a poet's place in American society.

"There is a story that some years ago an interested mother wrote to a principal of a school, 'Don't teach my boy poetry, he's going to run for Congress,'" President Kennedy said. "I've never taken the view that the world of politics and the world of poetry are so far apart. I think politicians and poets share at least one thing, and that is their greatness depends upon the courage with which they face the challenges of life."

Echoes the Poet's Cry

He was echoing a cry that Frost had long made--the higher role of the poet in business society. In fact, in 1960, Mr. Frost had urged Congress to declare poets the equal of big business, and received a standing ovation from spectators when he supported a bill to create a National Academy of Culture.

"I have long thought of something like this," Mr. Frost told a Senate education subcommittee. "Everyone comes down to Washington to get equal with someone else. I want our poets to be declared equal to--what shall I say?--the scientists. No, to big business."

Many years before, but several years after he had achieved recognition for his work, Frost had slouched characteristically before an audience of young writers gathered under Bread Loaf Mountains at Middlebury, Vt. He said:

"Every artist must have two fears--the fear of God and the fear of man--fear of God that his creation will ultimately be found unworthy and the fear of man that he will be misunderstood by his fellows."

These two fears were ever present in Robert Frost, with the result that his published verses were of the highest order and completely understood by thousands of Americans in whom they struck a ready response. To countless persons who had never seen New Hampshire birches in the snow or caressed a perfect ax he exemplified a great American tradition with his superb, almost angular verses written out of the New England scene.

Not since Whittier in "Snowbound" had captured the penetrating chill of New England's brief December day had any American poet more exactly caught the atmosphere north of Boston or the thin philosophy of its fence-mending inhabitants.

His pictures of an abandoned cord of wood warming "the frozen swamp as best it could with the slow smokeless burning of decay" or of how "two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference," with their Yankee economy of words, moved his readers nostalgically and filled the back pastures of their mind with memories of a shrewd and quiet way of life.

20 Years of Rejection

Strangely enough, Frost spent 20 years writing his verses on stone walls and brown earth, blue butterflies and tall, slim trees without winning any recognition in America. When he sent them to The Atlantic Monthly they were returned with this note:

"We regret that The Atlantic has no place for your vigorous verse."

It was not until "A Boy's Will" was published in England and Ezra Pound publicized it that Robert Frost was recognized as the indigenous American poet that he was.

After that, the way was not so hard, and in the years that followed he was to win the Pulitzer Prize four times, be honored by many institutions of higher learning and find it possible for a poet, who would write of things that were "common in experience, uncommon in writing," to earn enough money so that he would not have to teach or farm or make shoes or write for newspapers--all things he had done in his early days.

Raymond Holden, poet and critic, pointed out in a "profile" in The New Yorker magazine that there was more than the ordinary amount of paradox in the personality and career of Frost. Essentially a New England poet in a day when there were few poets in that region, he was born in San Francisco; fundamentally a Yankee, he was the son of an ardent Democrat whose belief in the Confederacy led him to name his son Robert Lee; a farmer in New Hampshire, he preferred to sit on a fence and watch others work; a teacher, he despised the rigors of the educational process as practiced in the institutions where he taught.

Like many another Yankee individualist, Robert Frost was a rebel. So was his father, William Frost, who had run away from Amherst, Mass., to go West. His mother, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, emigrated to Philadelphia when she was a girl.

His father died when Robert, who was born March 26, 1874, was about 11. The boy and his mother, the former Isabelle Moody, went to live at Lawrence, Mass., with William Prescott Frost, Robert's grandfather, who gave the boy a good schooling. Influenced by the poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Robert wanted to be a poet before he went to Dartmouth College, where he stayed only through the year 1892.

In the next several years he worked as a bobbin boy in the Lawrence mills, was a shoemaker and for a short while a reporter for The Lawrence Sentinel. He attended Harvard in 1897-98, then became a farmer at Derry, N.H., and taught there. In 1905 he married Elinor White, also a teacher, by whom he had five children. In 1912 Mr. Frost sold the farm and the family went to England.

He came home to find the editor of The Atlantic Monthly asking for poems. He sent along the very ones that had previously been rejected, and they were published. The Frosts went to Franconia, N.H., to live in a farm house Mr. Frost had bought for $1,000. His poetry brought him some money, and in 1916 he again became a teacher. He was a professor of English, then "poet in residence" for more than 20 years at Amherst College and he spent two years in a similar capacity at the University of Michigan. Later Frost lectured and taught at The New School in New York.

In 1938 he retired temporarily as a teacher. Mrs. Frost died that year in Florida. Afterward, he taught intermittently at Harvard, Amherst and Dartmouth.

Won Many Honors

In 1916 Frost, who had then been a poet for 20 years, was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters; in 1930, of the American Academy. His books, "New Hampshire: A Poem With Notes And Gracenotes," won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1924. When his "Corrected Poems" were published in 1931, he again won that prize. The Pulitzer committee honored him a third time in 1937 for his book, "A Further Range," and again in 1943 for "A Witness Tree."

Frost won many honorary degrees, from master of arts at Amherst in 1917 to doctor of humane letters at the University of Vermont in 1923, and others followed from Harvard, Yale and other institutions.

The issuing in 1949 of "The Complete Poems of Robert Frost," a 642-page volume, was the signal for another series of broad critical appraisals studded with phrases like "lasting significance."

The Limited Editions Club awarded Frost its Gold Medal, and in the following October poets, scholars and editors gathered to do him honor at the Kenyon College Conference. In Washington the Senate adopted a resolution to send him greetings on his 75th birthday.

On that occasion he said that 20 acres of land for every man "would be the answer to all the world's problems" noting that life on the farm would show men "their burdens as well as their privileges."

The only existing copy of Frost's first book, "Twilight and Other Poems," was auctioned here that December for $3,000, a price thought to be the highest paid for a work by a contemporary American author. "It had no success and deserved none," the poet commented.

In later years, Frost, who once wrote:

I bid you to a one-man revolution.--The only revolution that is coming, became interested in politics, and some of his later verses were on this theme. His lectures, at Harvard, where he was Charles Eliot Norton lecturer in 1936 and 1939, and elsewhere, were less about poetry and more about the moral values of life. But it was less to these than to his earlier works that readers turned for satisfaction; to such lines as these on the "Hired Man":

Nothing to look backward to with pride

Nothing to look forward to with hope . . .

While critics heaped belated praise on his earthy, Yankee, birchbark-clear poems, there were also finely fashioned lyrics in which the man of the soil flashed fire with intellect. Such a poem was "Reluctance" with its nostalgic ending:

Ah, when to the heart of man was it ever less than treason

To go with the drift of things, to yield with a grace to reason,

And bow and accept the end of a love or a season?


Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if I had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

Even critics who found a harshness sometimes in his work credited Mr. Frost with being a great poet. They appreciated his philosophy of simplicity, perhaps more in later years than during the "renaissance" of American poetry in the nineteen-twenties. For they knew it was a part of Robert Frost, whose innate philosophy of unchangeableness he once expressed when he wrote:

They would not find me changed from him they knew

Only more sure of all I thought was true . . . .

At an annual joint ceremonial in May 1950, of the American Academy and the National Institute, he read a poem entitled "How Hard It Is to Keep From Being King, When It's in You and in the Situation."

Asked about his method of writing a poem, Frost said: "I have worried quite a number of them into existence, but any sneaking preference [I have had] remains for the ones I have carried through like the stroke of a racquet, club or headsman's ax."

In an interview with Harvey Breit of The New York Times Book Review, he observed:

"If poetry isn't understanding all, the whole word, then it isn't worth anything. Young poets forget that poetry must include the mind as well as the emotions. Too many poets delude themselves by thinking the mind is dangerous and must be left out. Well, the mind is dangerous and must be left in."

由於沒讀到詩 根本無法談



Danish poet Inger Christensen dead at 73

Christensen ... often mentioned for a Nobel prize

COPENHAGEN: Danish poet Inger Christensen, often mentioned as a possible Nobel Literature Prize winner, has died at the age of 73, her Danish publisher said yesterday.
Christensen died on Friday, publisher Gyldendal said.
In 1964 she started to write full-time following the publication of the poetry collections Light (1962) and Grass, the following year.
Works that stand out in her production include the large collection of poems called It (Det) from 1969, where she explored both social and political issues as well as contrasting love and hate.
The rules of language and mathematics as well as musical composition also inspired her.
“Numerical ratios exist in nature: the way a leek wraps around itself from the inside,” she said of Alphabet from 1981 where she used the alphabet and the Fibonacci mathematical sequence.
Christensen was born 1935 in Vejle on the eastern coast of Jutland, the daughter of a tailor.
After graduating from secondary school she moved to Copenhagen and then to Aarhus where she studied to be a teacher, receiving her certificate in 1958. While studying, she published her first poems and in 1959 married poet and critic Poul Borum. They divorced in 1976.
The 1991 sonnet cycle, Butterfly Valley: A Requiem, is regarded as another high point in her production. There she uses the image of butterflies, with their beautiful colours but also as very fragile creatures to investigate life and death.
Among the many awards she won were the 1969 Danish critics prize, the Holberg Medal in 1987, the Nordic Prize of the Swedish Academy as well as the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in 1994, and the 2006 Siegfried Unseld Prize in Germany.
Christensen also wrote plays and scripts for radio and children. Creativity, fiction and reality were other themes in her work, for instance in her 1976 novel The Painted Room about Italian Renaissance painter Mantegna where three narrators figure.
She was a member of the Danish Academy and in 1995 joined the Academie Europeene de Poesie. – DPA

2009年1月9日 星期五

Report to Saint Peter (Hendrik Willem van Loon)

Report to Saint Peter - an unfinished, posthumously published autobiography, 1947



(美)房龙 ;朱子仪


北京出版社 / 2002-01-01

本书主要内容包括前言、“天国之门”门前的序言、我降生的这个世界的境况、鹿特丹市——我的出生地、展品古怪的博物馆、在透不过气的空间稍事停顿,看看是 否仍紧扣主题、想知道什么使我变成今天这个样子,我不得不迫根溯源、祖先的共性与我自身的特性、与早期基督徒相伴、关于修道院,扯了一大通离题的话、地狱 之火及共为何点燃、打算做个封建时代的骑士,却发现无人理解、附:房龙生平年表、附:编者前言、译后记等详细内容。

Hendrik Willem van Loon (January 14, 1882March 11, 1944) was a Dutch-American historian and journalist.

Life and works

He was born in Rotterdam, the son of Hendrik Willem van Loon and Elisabeth Johanna Hanken. He went to the United States in 1902 to study at Cornell University, receiving his degree in 1905. He was a correspondent during the Russian Revolution of 1905 and in Belgium in 1914 at the start of World War I. He later became a professor of history at Cornell University (1915-17) and in 1919 became an American citizen.

In 1906 he married Eliza Ingersoll Bowditch, daughter of a Harvard professor, by whom he had two sons, Henry Bowditch and Gerard Willem. He had two later marriages, to Eliza Helen Criswell in 1920 and playwright Frances Goodrich Ames in 1927, but after a divorce from Ames he returned to Criswell (it is debatable whether or not they re-married) who inherited his estate in 1944.

From the 1910s until his death, Van Loon wrote many books, illustrating them himself. Most widely known among these is The Story of Mankind, a history of the world especially for children, which won the first Newbery Medal in 1922. The book was later updated by Van Loon and has continued to be updated, first by his son and later by other historians.

However, he also wrote many other very popular books aimed at young adults. As a writer he was known for emphasizing crucial historical events and giving a complete picture of individual characters, as well as the role of the arts in history. He also had an informal and thought-provoking style which, particularly in The Story of Mankind, included personal anecdotes.

Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest "I still stick to the Dutch pronunciation of the double oLoon like loan in 'Loan and Trust Co.' My sons will probably accept the American pronunciation. It really does not matter very much." (Charles Earle Funk, What's the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.)


A partial list of works by Hendrik Willem van Loon, with first publication dates and publishers.

  • The Fall of the Dutch Republic, 1913, Houghton Mifflin Co.
  • The Rise of the Dutch Kingdom, 1915, Doubleday Page & Co.
  • The Golden Book of the Dutch Navigators, 1916, The Century Co.
  • A Short History of Discovery, 1917, David McKay
  • Ancient man; the beginning of civilizations, 1920, Boni and Liveright
  • The Story of Mankind, 1921, Boni and Liveright
  • The Story of the Bible, 1923, Boni and Liveright
  • The Story of Wilbur the Hat, 1925, Boni and Liveright
  • Tolerance, 1925, Boni and Liveright
  • The Liberation of Mankind: the story of man's struggle for the right to think, 1926, Boni and Liveright
  • America, 1927, Boni and Liveright
  • Adriaen Block, 1928, Block Hall
  • Multiplex man, or the Story of survival through invention, 1928
  • Life and Times of Peter Stuyvesant, 1928, Henry Holt
  • Man the Miracle Maker, 1928, Horace Liveright
  • R. v. R.: the Life and Times of Rembrant van Rijn, 1930, Horace Liveright
  • If the Dutch Had Kept Nieuw Amsterdam, in If, Or History Rewritten, edited by J. C. Squire, 1931
  • Van Loon's Geography, 1932, Simon and Schuster
  • An Elephant Up a Tree, 1933, Simon and Schuster
  • An Indiscreet Itinerary, 1933, Harcourt, Brace
  • The story of inventions: Man, the Miracle Maker, 1934, Horace Liveright
  • Ships: and How They Sailed the Seven Seas, 1935, Simon and Schuster
  • Around the World With the Alphabet, 1935, Simon and Schuster
  • Erasmus "The Praise of Folly" with a short life of the author by Gerard Willem Van Loon, 1942 . For the Classic Club, by Walter J.Black of New York.

  • Air-Storming (radio talk), 1935, Harcourt, Brace
  • Love me not, 1935
  • A World Divided is a World Lost, 1935
  • The Home of Mankind; the story of the world we live in, 1936
  • The Songs We Sing (with Grace Castagnetta), 1936, Simon and Schuster
  • The Arts, 1937, Simon and Schuster
  • Christmas Carols (with Grace Castagnetta), 1937, Simon and Schuster
  • Observations on the mystery of print and the work of Johann Gutenberg, 1937
  • Our Battle: Being One Man's Answer to "My Battle" by Adolf Hitler, 1938
  • How to Look at Pictures, 1938
  • Folk Songs of Many Lands (with Grace Castagnetta), 1938
  • The Last of the Troubadours, 1939
  • The Songs America Sings (with Grace Castagnetta), 1939
  • My School Books, 1939
  • Invasion, 1940
  • The Story of the Pacific, 1940
  • The Life and Times of Bach, 1940
  • Good Tidings, 1941
  • Van Loon's Lives, 1942
  • Christmas Songs, 1942
  • The Message of the Bells, 1942
  • Fighters for Freedom: the Life and Times of Thomas Jefferson and Simon Bolivar, 1943
  • The Life and Times of Scipio Fulhaber, Chef de Cuisine, 1943
  • Adventures and Escapes of Gustavus Vasa, 1945
  • Report to Saint Peter - an unfinished, posthumously published autobiography, 1947

Books about Van Loon

  • Cornelis van Minnen (2005). Van Loon: Popular Historian, Journalist, and FDR Confidant, Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-7049-1.
  • Gerard Willem Van Loon (1972). The story of Hendrik Willem van Loon, Lippincott. ISBN 0-397-00844-9.
  • Erasmus with a short life of the author by Gerard Willem Van Loon (1972). The Praise of Folly, For the Classic Club, by Walter J.Black of New York.


The Italian songwriter Francesco Guccini has composed a song, dedicated to the memory of his father. The song is titled "Van Loon" because Guccini's father loved Van Loon's books when he was young and appears in the album Signora Bovary.

External links

******The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Story of Mankind******


For Hansje and Willem:

WHEN I was twelve or thirteen years old, an uncle of
mine who gave me my love for books and pictures promised
to take me upon a memorable expedition. I was to go with
him to the top of the tower of Old Saint Lawrence in Rotterdam.

And so, one fine day, a sexton with a key as large as that
of Saint Peter opened a mysterious door. ``Ring the bell,''
he said, ``when you come back and want to get out,'' and with
a great grinding of rusty old hinges he separated us from the
noise of the busy street and locked us into a world of new and
strange experiences.

For the first time in my life I was confronted by the phenomenon
of audible silence. When we had climbed the first
flight of stairs, I added another discovery to my limited
knowledge of natural phenomena--that of tangible darkness. A
match showed us where the upward road continued. We went
to the next floor and then to the next and the next until I had
lost count and then there came still another floor, and suddenly
we had plenty of light. This floor was on an even height with
the roof of the church, and it was used as a storeroom. Covered
with many inches of dust, there lay the abandoned symbols
of a venerable faith which had been discarded by the good
people of the city many years ago. That which had meant life
and death to our ancestors was here reduced to junk and rub-
bish. The industrious rat had built his nest among the carved
images and the ever watchful spider had opened up shop between
the outspread arms of a kindly saint.

The next floor showed us from where we had derived our
light. Enormous open windows with heavy iron bars made
the high and barren room the roosting place of hundreds of
pigeons. The wind blew through the iron bars and the air was
filled with a weird and pleasing music. It was the noise of the
town below us, but a noise which had been purified and cleansed
by the distance. The rumbling of heavy carts and the clinking
of horses' hoofs, the winding of cranes and pulleys, the hissing
sound of the patient steam which had been set to do the work
of man in a thousand different ways--they had all been
blended into a softly rustling whisper which provided a beautiful
background for the trembling cooing of the pigeons.

Here the stairs came to an end and the ladders began. And
after the first ladder (a slippery old thing which made one feel
his way with a cautious foot) there was a new and even greater
wonder, the town-clock. I saw the heart of time. I could hear
the heavy pulsebeats of the rapid seconds--one--two--three--
up to sixty. Then a sudden quivering noise when all the wheels
seemed to stop and another minute had been chopped off eternity.
Without pause it began again--one--two--three--until
at last after a warning rumble and the scraping of many wheels
a thunderous voice, high above us, told the world that it was
the hour of noon.

On the next floor were the bells. The nice little bells and
their terrible sisters. In the centre the big bell, which made
me turn stiff with fright when I heard it in the middle of the
night telling a story of fire or flood. In solitary grandeur it
seemed to reflect upon those six hundred years during which
it had shared the joys and the sorrows of the good people of
Rotterdam. Around it, neatly arranged like the blue jars in
an old-fashioned apothecary shop, hung the little fellows, who
twice each week played a merry tune for the benefit of the
country-folk who had come to market to buy and sell and hear
what the big world had been doing. But in a corner--all alone
and shunned by the others--a big black bell, silent and stern,
the bell of death.

Then darkness once more and other ladders, steeper and
even more dangerous than those we had climbed before, and
suddenly the fresh air of the wide heavens. We had reached
the highest gallery. Above us the sky. Below us the city--
a little toy-town, where busy ants were hastily crawling hither
and thither, each one intent upon his or her particular business,
and beyond the jumble of stones, the wide greenness of the
open country.

It was my first glimpse of the big world.