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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Russian Soul

最近在混着读 GRRM 和毛姆的短篇们。随手翻到毛姆的短篇 Neil MacAdam,里面女主角是个嫁给英国学者的俄国人,住在南洋某岛上,说起当地英国殖民者女人非常不屑:

The women are intolerable. They are jealous and spiteful and lazy. They can talk of nothing. If you introduce an intellectual subject they look down their noses as though you were indecent. What can they talk about now? They’re interested in nothing. If you speak of the body they think you improper, and if you speak of the soul they think you priggish.

‘I don’t want people to be amiable and kindly. I want them to be vital and passionate. I want them to be interested in mankind. I want them to attach more importance to the things of the spirit than to a gin pahit or a curry tiffin. I want art to matter to them, and literature.’ She addressed herself abruptly to Neil: ‘Have you got a soul?’

看到这段我忍不住哆嗦一下,眼前仿佛看见大学同学,某乌克兰犹太女,不过她自称是被俄国文学养大的。Russians really are always going on about their souls, no kidding, and are utterly and absolutely sincere about it.

我觉得社会/人际方面,中国和英美文化的相似之处在于一种伪装的压力,大家消解应付这种压力同时自保的方式是采取一种略微 cynical 的游戏人生的态度。或许,在俄国这种不强调伪装的文化里,这种看穿红尘的态度就没必要了,因为没有东西需要看穿。


毛姆描写女人的外貌从来没有毫无保留地赞其美,而且写到缺点的时候毫不留情;但是他经常毫无保留地两眼放光地描写男青年的美貌 ---- 老一点的男人可没有这种待遇。这个故事很明显是关于守身如玉的弯男青年被疯狂熟女(或者是某弯男青年被老弯男)缠上了难以脱身的桥段,说不定是他从哪儿听来的真事儿或半传奇。

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