When we are writing we are often told to keep our readers in mind, to shape what we say to fit their tastes and interests. But there is one reader in particular who should not be forgotten. Can you guess who? Russell Baker surprised himself and everyone else when he discovered the answer. 我们写作时常常被告诫,脑子里要有读者,笔者所云一定要符合读者的口味和兴趣。但有一 位读者特别不该忘记。你能猜出是谁吗?当拉塞尔?贝克找到这个问题的答案时,他自己和 别人都感到大为惊讶。 Writing for Myself Russell Baker 1 The idea of becoming a writer had come to me off and on since my childhood in Belleville, but it wasn't until my third year in high school that the possibility took hold. Until then I've been bored by everything associated with English courses. I found English grammar dull and difficult. I hated the assignments to turn out long, lifeless paragraphs that were agony for teachers to read and for me to write. 为自己而写 拉塞尔?贝克 从孩提时代,我还住在贝尔维尔时,我的脑子里就断断续续地转着当作家的念头,但 直等到我高中三年级,这一想法才有了实现的可能。在这之前,我对所有跟英文课沾边的事 都感到腻味。我觉得英文语法枯燥难懂。我痛恨那些长而乏味的段落写作,老师读着受累, 我写着痛苦。 2 When our class was assigned to Mr. Fleagle for third-year English I anticipated another cheerless year in that most tedious of subjects. Mr. Fleagle had a reputation among students for dullness and inability to inspire. He was said to be very formal, rigid and hopelessly out of date. To me he looked to be sixty or seventy and excessively prim.He wore primly severe eyeglasses, his wavy hair was primly cut and primly combed. He wore prim suits with neckties set primly against the collar buttons of his white shirts. He had a primly pointed jaw, a primly straight nose, and a prim manner of speaking that was so correct, so gentlemanly, that he seemed a comic antique. 弗利格尔先生接我们的高三英文课时, 我就准备着在这门最最单调乏味的课上再熬上 沉闷的一年。 弗利格尔先生在学生中以其说话干巴和激励学生无术而出名。 据说他拘谨刻板, 完全落后于时代。我看他有六七十岁了,古板之极。他戴着古板的毫无装饰的眼镜,微微卷 曲的头发剪得笔齐, 梳得纹丝不乱。 他身穿古板的套装, 领带端端正正地顶着白衬衣的领扣。 他长着古板的尖下巴,古板的直鼻梁,说起话来一本正经,字斟句酌,彬彬有礼,活脱脱一 个滑稽的老古董。
3 I prepared for an unfruitful year with Mr. Fleagle and for a long time was not disappointed. Late in the year we tackled the informal essay. Mr. Fleagle distributed a homework sheet offering us a choice of topics. None was quite so simple-minded as "What I Did on My Summer Vacation," but most seemed to be almost as dull. I took the list home and did nothing until the night before the essay was due. Lying on the sofa, I finally faced up to the unwelcome task, took the list out of my notebook, and scanned it. The topic on which my eye stopped was "The Art of Eating Spaghetti". 我作好准备,打算在弗利格尔先生的班上一无所获地混上一年,不少日子过去了,还 真不出所料。后半学期我们学写随笔小品文。弗利格尔先生发下一张家庭作业纸,出了不少 题目供我们选择。 像"暑假二三事"那样傻乎乎的题目倒是一个也没有, 但绝大多数一样乏味。 我把作文题带回家,一直没写,直到要交作业的前一天晚上。我躺在沙发上,最终不得不面 对这一讨厌的功课,便从笔记本里抽出作文题目单粗粗一看。我的目光落在"吃意大利细面 条的艺术"这个题目上。 4 This title produced an extraordinary sequence of mental images. Vivid memories came flooding back of a night in Belleville when all of us were seated around the supper table - Uncle Allen, my mother, Uncle Charlie, Doris, Uncle Hal - and Aunt Pat served spaghetti for supper. Spaghetti was still a little known foreign dish in those days. Neither Doris nor I had ever eaten spaghetti, and none of the adults had enough experience to be good at it. All the good humor of Uncle Allen's house reawoke in my mind as I recalled the laughing arguments we had that night about the socially respectable method for moving spaghetti from plate to mouth. 这个题目在我脑海里唤起了一连串不同寻常的图像。 贝尔维尔之夜的清晰的回忆如潮 水一般涌来,当时,我们大家一起围坐在晚餐桌旁??艾伦舅舅、我母亲、查理舅舅、多丽 丝、 哈尔舅舅??帕特舅妈晚饭做的是意大利细面条。 那时意大利细面条还是很少听说的异 国食品。多丽丝和我都还从来没吃过,在座的大人也是经验不足,没有一个吃起来得心应手 的。艾伦舅舅家诙谐有趣的场景全都重现在我的脑海中,我回想起来,当晚我们笑作一团, 争论着该如何地把面条从盘子上送到嘴里才算合乎礼仪。 5 Suddenly I wanted to write about that, about the warmth and good feeling of it, but I wanted to put it down simply for my own joy, not for Mr. Fleagle. It was a moment I wanted to recapture and hold for myself. I wanted to relive the pleasure of that evening. To write it as I wanted, however, would violate all the rules of formal composition I'd learned in school, and Mr. Fleagle would surely give it a failing grade. Never mind. I would write something else for Mr. Fleagle after I had written this thing for myself. 突然我就想描述那一切, 描述当时那种温馨美好的气氛, 但我把它写下来仅仅是想自 得其乐,而不是为弗利格尔先生而写。那是我想重新捕捉并珍藏在心中的一个时刻。我想重 温那个夜晚的愉快。然而,照我希望的那样去写,就会违反我在学校里学的正式作文的种种
法则,弗利格尔先生也肯定会打它一个不及格。没关系。等我为自己写好了之后,我可以再 为弗利格尔先生写点什么别的东西。 6 When I finished it the night was half gone and there was no time left to compose a proper, respectable essay for Mr. Fleagle. There was no choice next morning but to turn in my tale of the Belleville supper. Two days passed before Mr. Fleagle returned the graded papers, and he returned everyone's but mine. I was preparing myself for a command to report to Mr. Fleagle immediately after school for discipline when I saw him lift my paper from his desk and knock for the class's attention. 等我写完时已是半夜时分, 再没时间为弗利格尔先生写一篇循规蹈矩、 像模像样的文 章了。第二天上午,我别无选择,只好把我为自己而写的贝尔维尔晚餐的故事交了上去。两 天后弗利格尔先生发还批改过的作文,他把别人的都发了,就是没有我的。我正准备着遵命 一放学就去弗利格尔先生那儿挨训, 却看见他从桌上拿起我的作文, 敲了敲桌子让大家注意 听。 7 "Now, boys," he said. "I want to read you an essay. This is titled, 'The Art of Eating Spaghetti.'" "好了,孩子们,"他说。"我要给你们念一篇小品文。文章的题目是:吃意大利细面 条的艺术。" 8 And he started to read. My words! He was reading my words out loud to the entire class. What's more, the entire class was listening. Listening attentively. Then somebody laughed, then the entire class was laughing, and not in contempt and ridicule, but with open-hearted enjoyment. Even Mr. Fleagle stopped two or three times to hold back a small prim smile. 于是他开始念了。是我写的!他给全班大声念我写的文章。更不可思议的是,全班同 学都在听着他念,而且听得很专心。有人笑出声来,接着全班都笑了,不是轻蔑嘲弄,而是 乐乎乎地开怀大笑。就连弗利格尔先生也停顿了两三次,好抑制他那一丝拘谨的微笑。 9 I did my best to avoid showing pleasure, but what I was feeling was pure delight at this demonstration that my words had the power to make people laugh. In the eleventh grade, at the eleventh hour as it were, I had discovered a calling. It was the happiest moment of my entire school career. When Mr. Fleagle finished he put the final seal on my happiness by saying, "Now that, boys, is an essay, don't you see. It's - don't you see - it's of the very essence of the essay, don't you see. Congratulations, Mr. Baker." 我尽力不流露出得意的心情, 但是看到我写的文章竟然能使别人大笑, 我真是心花怒 放。就在十一年级,可谓是最后的时刻,我找到了一个今生想做的事。这是我整个求学生涯 中最幸福的一刻。弗利格尔先生念完后说道:"瞧,孩子们,这就是小品文,懂了没有。这
才是??知道吗??这才是小品文的精髓,知道了没有。祝贺你,贝克先生。"他这番话使 我沉浸在十全十美的幸福之中。
COPYRIGHT ? 2006 SHANGHAI FOREIGN LANGUAGE EDUCATION PRESS
How do you feel when old friends are far away? Do you make an effort to keep in touch? Sometimes it is easy to put off writing a letter, thinking that there will be plenty of time tomorrow. But then sometimes, as this story shows, we leave it too late. Perhaps reading it will make you want to reach for your pen. 老朋友天各一方,你心有何感?你是否努力保持联系?有时候写信的事很容易会一拖再拖, 总以为明天有的是时间。然而,正如这则故事所表明的,有时我们拖得太晚了。也许读一读 这个故事会让你提起笔来。 All the Cabbie Had Was a Letter Foster Furcolo 1 He must have been completely lost in something he was reading because I had to tap on the windshield to get his attention. 出租车司机拥有的就剩一封信 福斯特?弗克洛 他准是完全沉浸在所读的东西里了,因为我不得不敲挡风玻璃来引起他的注意。 2 "Is your cab available?" I asked when he finally looked up at me. He nodded, then said
apologetically as I settled into the back seat, "I'm sorry, but I was reading a letter." He sounded as if he had a cold or something. 他总算抬头看我了。 “你出车吗?”我问道。他点点头,当我坐进后座时,他抱歉地 说: “对不起,我在读一封信。 ”听上去他像是得了感冒什么的。 3 "I'm in no hurry," I told him. "Go ahead and finish your letter." “我不着急, ”我对他说, “你接着把信读完吧。 ” 4 He shook his head. "I've read it several times already. I guess I almost know it by heart." 他摇了摇头。 “我已经读了好几遍了。我想我都能背出来了。 ” 5 "Letters from home always mean a lot," I said. "At least they do with me because I'm on the road so much." Then, estimating that he was 60 or 70 years old, I guessed: "From a child or maybe a grandchild?" “家书抵万金啊, ”我说。 “至少对我来说是这样,因为我老是在外旅行。 ”我估量他 有六七十岁了,便猜测说: “是孩子还是孙子写来的?” 6 "This isn't family," he replied. "Although," he went on, "come to think of it, it might just as well have been family. Old Ed was my oldest friend. In fact, we used to call each other 'Old Friend' -- when we'd meet, that is. I'm not much of a hand at writing." “不是家里人, ”他回答说。 “不过, ”他接着说, “想起来,也可以算是一家人了。埃 德老伙计是我最老的朋友了。实际上,过去我俩总是以‘老朋友’相称的 ?? 就是说,当 我俩相见时。我这人就是不大会写东西。 ” 7 "I don't think any of us kee
 

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