翻译:《巴黎评论》艾丽丝·门罗访谈录 — 小说的艺术【原载于该刊1994年夏季刊】

MagicDon 2013-11-26 18:45:07
原文略有参考译言的同一翻译项目,在此特别感谢alona学姐的校对。
先贴出中英文对照版,仅供交流参考,不做任何商用,欢迎探讨指正!

                                             Alice Munro, The Art of Fiction
                                                艾丽丝·门罗《小说的艺术》
                                                The Paris Review, No.137
                                             原载:《巴黎评论》 第137期
                             Interviewed by Jeanne McCulloch, Mona Simpson
                                      采访者:珍妮·麦卡洛克,莫纳·辛普森

      There is no direct flight from New York City to Clinton, Ontario, the Canadian town of three thousand where Alice Munro lives most of the year. We left LaGuardia early on a June morning, rented a car in Toronto, and drove for three hours on roads that grew smaller and more rural. Around dusk, we pulled up to the house where Munro lives with her second husband, Gerry Fremlin. It has a deep backyard and an ec
原文略有参考译言的同一翻译项目,在此特别感谢alona学姐的校对。
先贴出中英文对照版,仅供交流参考,不做任何商用,欢迎探讨指正!

                                             Alice Munro, The Art of Fiction
                                                艾丽丝·门罗《小说的艺术》
                                                The Paris Review, No.137
                                             原载:《巴黎评论》 第137期
                             Interviewed by Jeanne McCulloch, Mona Simpson
                                      采访者:珍妮·麦卡洛克,莫纳·辛普森

      There is no direct flight from New York City to Clinton, Ontario, the Canadian town of three thousand where Alice Munro lives most of the year. We left LaGuardia early on a June morning, rented a car in Toronto, and drove for three hours on roads that grew smaller and more rural. Around dusk, we pulled up to the house where Munro lives with her second husband, Gerry Fremlin. It has a deep backyard and an eccentric flower garden and is, as she explained, the house where Fremlin was born. In the kitchen, Munro was preparing a simple meal with fragrant local herbs. The dining room is lined floor to ceiling with books; on one side a small table holds a manual typewriter. It is here that Munro works.
      纽约并没有直飞安大略省克林顿镇的航班。克林顿镇是一座只有三千多人口的加拿大小镇,艾丽丝·门罗每年大多数的时光都在此度过。六月的某个清晨,我们从拉瓜地亚机场出发,到达多伦多以后、租了一辆车,三小时的车程里,车辆所行驶的道路越变越窄,越变越有田园风情。黄昏时分,我们终于抵达了门罗同他第二任丈夫格里·弗雷姆林的住所。房子的后院很宽敞,花园有些古怪,门罗还告诉我们,弗雷姆林就出生在这所房子里。我们造访时,门罗正在厨房用产自当地的香草准备便饭。餐厅里从地板到天花板都堆满了书,其中一侧放着一张桌子,上面有一台手动打字机。此处便是门罗写作的地方。
      After a while, Munro took us to Goderich, a bigger town, the county seat, where she installed us in the Bedford Hotel on the square across from the courthouse. The hotel is a nineteenth-century building with comfortable rooms (twin beds and no air-conditioning) that would seem to lodge a librarian or a frontier schoolteacher in one of Munro’s stories. Over the next three days, we talked in her home, but never with the tape recorder on. We conducted the interview in our small room at the hotel, as Munro wanted to keep “the business out of the house.” Both Munro and her husband grew up within twenty miles of where they now live; they knew the history of almost every building we passed, admired, or ate inside. We asked what sort of literary community was available in the immediate area. Although there is a library in Goderich, we were told the nearest good bookstore was in Stratford, some thirty miles away. When we asked whether there were any other local writers, she drove us past a ramshackle house where a man sat bare chested on the back stoop, crouched over a typewriter, surrounded by cats. “He’s out there every day,” she said. “Rain or shine. I don’t know him, but I’m dying of curiosity to find out what he’s up to.”
      稍事片刻后,门罗带我们去了戈德里奇,一座更大的城镇,郡政府就坐落于此,门罗把我们安顿在了镇上的贝德福德酒店,这所酒店位于郡政府大楼对面的广场上。酒店建于十九世纪,房间很舒适(两张单人床,没有空调),看起来很像为门罗笔下的图书管理员亦或是边远地区的教师所准备的住所。接下来的三天里,我们在她的家中交流,期间却从未打开过磁带录音机。采访在酒店内我们那间小房间里进行,因为门罗希望“家里不谈公事。”门罗和她丈夫长大的地方距他们现在的居所均不到二十英里。我们所途经,所欣赏,乃至用过餐的每一所建筑,他们几乎都对其历史了如指掌。我们询问就近是否有任何种类的文学圈子,然后得知,尽管戈德里奇有一所图书馆,如果想找一家像样的书店,至少得去三十英里开外的斯特拉福德。我们又问及当地是否还有其他作家,于是门罗开车载我们经过一栋年久失修的房子,房后的门廊上坐着一个人,他敞开胸脯、蜷缩在打字机前,周围全是猫咪。“他每天都坐在那里,”门罗说,“风雨无阻。我不认识他,但我特别好奇,想知道他到底在忙些什么。”
      Our last morning in Canada, supplied with directions, we sought out the house in which Alice Munro had grown up. Her father had built the house and raised mink there. After several dead ends, we found it, a pretty brick house at the very end of a country road, facing an open field where an airplane rested, alighted temporarily it seemed. It was, from our spot, easy to imagine the glamor of the air, the pilot taking a country wife away, as in “White Dump,” or the young aviation stuntsman who lands in a field like this in “How I Met My Husband.”
      在加拿大的最后一个早上,弄清大致方向后,我们开始寻访艾丽丝·门罗长大的那栋房子。她父亲建造了那所房子,并在那里养过水貂。走了几回死胡同后,我们终于找到了。房子很漂亮,是一栋砖房,坐落于一条乡间小道的尽头,面朝一块空地,空地上停着一架飞机,飞机似乎临时着陆于此。从我们所处的位置看去,很容易浮想联翩,联想到《白色垃圾场》(White Dump)中壮丽的苍穹、以及飞行员带走乡下情人的那副情景,或是《我同丈夫的罗曼史》(How I Met My Husband)中那位的年轻的特技飞行员,而且他所降落的田野同此情此景别无二致。
      Like the house, like the landscape of Ontario, which resembles the American Midwest, Munro is not imposing. She is gracious, with a quiet humor. She is the author of seven books of short stories, including the forthcoming Open Secrets, and one novel, Lives of Girls and Women; she has received the Governor-General’s Award (Canada’s most prestigious literary prize), and is regularly featured in Best American Short Stories (Richard Ford recently included two Alice Munro stories in the volume he edited), and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards; she also is a regular contributor to The New Yorker. Despite these considerable accomplishments, Munro still speaks of writing with some of the reverence and insecurity one hears in the voices of beginners. She has none of the bravura or bluster of a famous writer, and it is easy to forget that she is one. Speaking of her own work, she makes what she does sound not exactly easy, but possible, as if anyone could do it if they only worked hard enough. As we left, we felt that contagious sense of possibility. It seems simple—but her writing has a perfect simplicity that takes years and many drafts to master. As Cynthia Ozick has said, “She is our Chekhov and is going to outlast most of her contemporaries.”
      门罗为人低调,这一点很像她住所的风格,也很像安大略的景致,类似于美国中西部的风景。她不仅待人亲切,而且恬淡幽默。她写过七部短篇小说集,其中包括即将面世的《公开的秘密》(Open Secrets),还写过一部长篇小说,名叫《少女和妇女的生活》(Lives of Girls and Women)。她荣获过总督文学奖(加拿大最负盛名的文学奖项),作品经常出现在《美国最佳短篇小说选》(Best American Short Stories)(理查德·福特最近将门罗的两个短篇收录于他所编撰的那册)以及《欧·亨利获奖小说选》(Prize Stories:The O. Henry Awards)。她还定期为《纽约客》供稿。尽管屡获殊荣,门罗谈及写作时,依旧略显诚惶诚恐且小心翼翼,如此态度通常只会出现在初涉文坛者身上。她不像有些名作家,既不故弄玄虚,也不耸人听闻,人们甚至很容易忘记她本身就是位名作家。论及自己的小说时,她认为,自己所做的一切并非易事,但也绝非遥不可及,仿佛只要有人足够努力,便能取得同样的成就。临走时,我们都受她所感染,觉得凡事皆有可能。她的道理似乎很简单 – 她的作品相当平实,可唯有历经岁月、不断磨练,才能练就这种平实。诚如辛西娅·欧兹克【注1】所言,“她就是我们的契诃夫,比起同时代的大多数作家,她更能历久弥新,流芳后世。”

      INTERVIEWER: We went back to the house where you grew up this morning: did you live there your entire childhood?
      《巴黎评论》:今早我们去了您成长时期住过的房子,您整个童年都是在那儿度过的么?

      ALICE MUNRO: Yes. When my father died, he was still living in that house on the farm, which was a fox and mink farm. It’s changed a lot though. Now it’s a beauty parlor called Total Indulgence. I think they have the beauty parlor in the back wing, and they’ve knocked down the kitchen entirely.
      艾丽丝·门罗:是的。我父亲去世前还住在那栋农家大宅里,农场里还养着狐狸和水貂。不过现在那里完全变了样。如今房子已经改造成了一家名叫“彻底放松”美容院。我想他们把美容院建在了宅子的侧后方,还把整个厨房拆除了。

      INTERVIEWER: Have you been inside it since then?
      《巴黎评论》:您父亲过世后,您后来进去过没有?

      MUNRO: No I haven’t, but I though if I did I’d ask to see the living room. There’s the fireplace my father built and I’d like to see that. I’ve sometimes thought I should go in and ask for a manicure.
      门罗:没,我再也没进去过。不过要是去的话,我会要求去客厅看一看。那里有我父亲建造的壁炉,我挺想看看那个壁炉。有时候我还在想,我应该直接进去让他们给我修修指甲。

      INTERVIEWER: We noticed a plane on the field across the road and thought of your stories “White Dump” and “How I Met My Husband.”
      《巴黎评论》:我们注意到,马路对面的空地上停了一架飞机,这让我们想到了您的短篇小说《白色垃圾厂》和《我与丈夫的罗曼史》。

      MUNRO: Yes, that was an airport for a while. The man who owned that farm had a hobby of flying planes, and he had a little plane of his own. He never liked farming so he got out of it and became a flight instructor. He’s still alive. In perfect health and one of the handsomest men I’ve ever known. He retired from flight instruction when he was seventy-five. Within maybe three months of retirement he went on a trip and got some odd disease you get from bats in caves.
      门罗:没错,那地方有段时间曾做过机场。那座农场的主人喜欢开飞机,自己还拥有一架小型飞机。他一直不喜欢务农,于是放弃了这个行当,转行做了飞行教官。他仍健在,身体特别健康,是我认识的最帅的男人之一。等到他从飞行教官的位置上退休,他都已经七十五岁了。退休后大概不到三个月,他就外出旅行,并患上了一种怪病,传染源是山洞里的蝙蝠。

      INTERVIEWER: The stories in your first collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, are very resonant of that area, the world of your childhood. At what point in your life were those stories written?
      《巴黎评论》:您的第一本短篇小说集《快乐影子之舞》(Dance of the Happy Shades)里面的小说很容易让人联想到您的童年生活。这些小说是您什么时候创作出来的?

      MUNRO: The writing of those stories stretched over fifteen years. “The Day of the Butterfly” was the earliest one. That was probably written when I was about twenty-one. And I can remember very well writing “Thanks for the Ride” because my first baby was lying in the crib beside me. So I was twenty-two. The really late stories were written in my thirties. “Dance of the Happy Shades” is one; “The Peace of Utrecht” is another. “Images” is the very latest. “Walker Brothers Cowboy” was also written after I was thirty. So there’s a really great range.
      门罗:这些小说的创作时间前后有十五年。《蝴蝶的日子》(The Day of the Butterfly)是最早写出来的,大概是我二十一岁时完成的。我还清楚地记得写《多谢载我一程》(Thanks for the ride)的情景,因为当时我的第一个孩子就躺在我身旁的摇篮里,所以我那时候应该是二十二岁。创作的比较晚的篇目都是我三十多岁时写的。《快乐影子之舞》算其中的一个,《乌德勒支的和平》(The Peace of Utrecht)也是。《图像》(Images)写的最晚,《沃克兄弟公司旗下的牛仔》(Walker Brothers Cowboy)也是我三十岁以后写的。所以时间跨度真的很大。

      INTERVIEWER: How do they seem to hold up now? Do you reread them?
      《巴黎评论》:现在来看,那些小说还经得起推敲么?您会重读它们么?

      MUNRO: There’s an early one in that collection called “The Shining Houses,” which I had to read at Harborfront in Toronto two or three years ago for a special event celebrating the history of Tamarack Review. Since it was originally published in one of the early issues of that magazine, I had to get up and read it, and it was very hard. I think I wrote that story when I was twenty-two. I kept editing as I read, catching all the tricks I used at that time, which now seemed very dated. I was trying to fix it up fast, with my eyes darting ahead to the next paragraph as I read, because I hadn’t read it ahead of time. I never do read things ahead of time. When I read an early story I can see things I wouldn’t do now, things people were doing in the fifties.
      门罗:两三年前,在多伦多的畔港区,《塔玛拉克评论》(Tamarack Review)【注2】杂志社举办了一场特别的庆典,以回顾杂志的发展历程。我当场朗读了一篇名叫《闪亮的房子》(The Shining House)的小说,是这本小说集中我较早写出来的一篇。这篇小说最早发表在该杂志创刊时的一期上,所以我必须起身来朗读它。读的时候,我觉得特别吃力,要知道,那篇小说是我二十二岁写的。我一边读、一边校订,还识破了当时用过的所有写作技巧,如今看来,这些技巧都特别老套。我试着快速地修改文章,读的时候,我的眼睛已经跳到了下一段,毕竟我没有提前过一遍,而且我从来就没这种习惯。读我早期的小说时,我发现了一些自己现在用不上的写法,一些流行于五十年代的写法。

      INTERVIEWER: Do you ever revise a story after it’s been published? Apparently, before he died, Proust rewrote the first volumes of Remembrance of Things Past.
      《巴黎评论》:小说发表后,您还会重新修订么?据说,普鲁斯特去世以前,就重写过《追忆似水年华》的第一卷。

      MUNRO: Yes, and Henry James rewrote simple, understandable stuff so it was obscure and difficult. Actually I’ve done it recently. The story “Carried Away” was included in Best American Short Stories 1991. I read it again in the anthology, because I wanted to see what it was like and I found a paragraph that I thought was really soggy. It was a very important little paragraph, maybe two sentences. I just took a pen and rewrote it up in the margin of the anthology so that I’d have it there to refer to when I published the story in book form. I’ve often made revisions at that stage that turned out to be mistakes because I wasn’t really in the rhythm of the story anymore. I see a little bit of writing that doesn’t seem to be doing as much work as it should be doing, and right at the end I will sort of rev it up. But when I finally read the story again it seems a bit obtrusive. So I’m not too sure about this sort of thing. The answer may be that one should stop this behavior. There should be a point where you say, the way you would with a child, this isn’t mine anymore.
      门罗: 对的,还有亨利·詹姆斯,他把一些简单易懂的部分进行重写,结果那些部分变得晦涩难懂了。事实上,我最近就做过修订工作。我的小说《逃离》(Carried Away)曾入选《美国最佳短篇小说选(1991年刊)》(Best American Short Stories 1991)。我找来选集,又读了一遍,想看看成书是什么样子,然后我发现,有一段我写得太过沉闷。那一段很短,却很重要,貌似只有两句话。于是我拿起笔来,在选集那一页的边上重写了那一段,这样一来,等到我重新以书本的形式出版这篇小说时,我就能以此为参照了。那段时间我经常做修改,可事后这些修改都不对,实际上我再也找不回写那些小说时候的节奏了。比方说,我看到一小部分文字似乎没有达到预想的效果,便在这一部分结尾处想办法加快这一部分的节奏。可等到我最后重读这篇小说时,那些修改过的部分又显得有些扎眼。所以对于改写这件事,我还真拿不太准。也许答案在于,这种行为就应该加以杜绝。人们总说“小说写完以后就不再属于自己”,就跟对待自己的儿女们那样,我觉得说的很有道理。

      INTERVIEWER: You’ve mentioned that you don’t show your works in progress to friends.
      《巴黎评论》:您曾提到过,您从不把未完成的作品给朋友们看。

      MUNRO: No, I don’t show anything in progress to anybody.
      门罗:是的,我从不把任何未完成的作品给任何人看。

      INTERVIEWER: How much do you rely on your editors?
      《巴黎评论》:您对您的编辑有多依赖?

      MUNRO: The New Yorker was really my first experience with serious editing. Previously I’d more or less just had copyediting with a few suggestions—not much. There has to be an agreement between the editor and me about the kind of thing that can happen. An editor who thought nothing happened in William Maxwell’s stories, for example, would be of no use to me. There also has to be a very sharp eye for the ways that I could be deceiving myself. Chip McGrath at The New Yorker was my first editor, and he was so good. I was amazed that anybody could see that deeply into what I wanted to do. Sometimes we didn’t do much, but occasionally he gave me a lot of direction. I rewrote one story called “The Turkey Season,” which he had already bought. I thought he would simply accept the new version but he didn’t. He said, Well, there are things about the new version I like better, and there are things about the old version I like better. Why don’t we see? He never says anything like, We will. So we put it together and got a better story that way, I think.
      门罗:为《纽约客》撰稿时,我第一次接触到了严肃的编辑工作。之前我接触的编辑差不多只进行一些文字上的修改,再提一点意见——意见真的不多。我必须同编辑就小说情节方面达成一致。举例来说,如果有编辑认为威廉·马克斯韦尔(William Maxwell)【注3】的短篇小说没有情节,那么这样的编辑对我来说毫无用处。当然,好的编辑也得有一双尖锐的眼睛,能够找出那些我自己给自己下套的地方。我在《纽约客》的第一位责编是奇普·麦格拉斯,他真的很称职。我特别惊讶,居然有人能如此够深入领会我的意图。有时候审校的工作量并不大,但他会时不时给我很多指导。我重写过一篇名叫《火鸡季》(The Turkey Season)的小说,他当时已经买了这本书了。我本以为他会接受修改过的版本,可他并不买账。他告诉我,“这么说吧,修改过的版本有些我喜欢的地方,不过原来的版本也有些我喜欢的地方。要不咱们再等等看?”他从不说类似于“我们要怎么做”的话。因此我们将两个版本结合起来,用这种办法修订出了一个更好的版本,在我看来的确如此。

      INTERVIEWER: How was this accomplished? By phone or by mail? Do you ever go into The New Yorker and hammer it out?
      《巴黎评论》:这些工作都是如何完成的?通过电话或是邮件?您有去过《纽约客》编辑部,同编辑当面做决策么?

      MUNRO: By mail. We have a very fruitful phone relationship, but we’ve only seen each other a few times.
      门罗:通过邮件。我们的电话沟通也卓有成效,不过我们只见过几次面。

      INTERVIEWER: When did you first publish in The New Yorker?
      《巴黎评论》:你的作品第一次发表在《纽约客》上是什么时候?

      MUNRO: “Royal Beatings” was my first story, and it was published in 1977. But I sent all my early stories to The New Yorker in the 1950s, and then I stopped sending for a long time and sent only to magazines in Canada. The New Yorker sent me nice notes though—penciled, informal messages. They never signed them. They weren’t terribly encouraging. I still remember one of them: The writing is very nice, but the theme is a bit overly familiar. It was, too. It was a romance between two aging people—an aging spinster who knows this is it for her when she’s proposed to by an aging farmer. I had a lot of aging spinsters in my stories. It was called “The Day the Asters Bloomed.” It was really awful. And I didn’t write this when I was seventeen; I was twenty-five. I wonder why I wrote about aging spinsters. I didn’t know any.
      门罗: 《皇家式殴打》(Royal Beatings)是我在《纽约客》上发表的首部小说,发表于1977年。不过五十年代时,我就向《纽约客》投过早期所有的小说,后来很长一段时间内,我再也没向他们投过稿,只将稿件投到加拿大的杂志社去。不过《纽约客》给我寄过一些很贴心的便条——用铅笔写的,非正式的短信。他们从来不在上面署名,也不会过分鼓励后进。我还记得其中一个便条:“写的很不错,不过主题有些过于陈旧。”也的确如此。小说讲的是两位老者之间的感情——一位年迈的农民向一位老姑娘求婚,这时候,那位老姑娘意识到,她终于等到这一时刻了。小说叫做《紫菀盛放之日》(The Day the Asters Bloomed)。小说写的很糟糕。这可不是我十七岁时写的,那时我都二十五岁了。我的小说里写过很多老姑娘。我也很奇怪,自己为什么会写老姑娘,我并不认识什么老姑娘。
      
      INTERVIEWER: And you married young. It’s not as though you were anticipating a life as an aging spinster.
      《巴黎评论》:您成家很早。您似乎也没有很期待自己会过上老姑娘似的生活吧。

      MUNRO: I think I knew that at heart I was an aging spinster.
      门罗:我早就清楚,本质上我就是个老姑娘。

      INTERVIEWER: Were you always writing?
    《巴黎评论》:您这一直坚持写作么?

      MUNRO: Since about grade seven or eight.
      门罗:大概从七、八年级时开始的。

      INTERVIEWER: Were you a serious writer by the time you went to college?
      《巴黎评论》:您刚上大学时就已经严肃地写作了么?

      MUNRO: Yes. I had no chance to be anything else because I had no money. I knew I would only be at university two years because the scholarships available at that time lasted only two years. It was this little vacation in my life, a wonderful time. I had been in charge of the house at home when I was in my teens, so university was about the only time in my life that I haven’t had to do housework.
      门罗:是的。除此之外我什么都做不了,因为我没钱。我早就知道自己只能读两年大学,因为我只有两年的奖学金。在大学的两年是我生命中一次短暂的假期,那段时光特别美好。我青少年时期就已经开始负责家务活了,所以说,在大学的那段时间是我这辈子唯一不用做家务活的时候。

      INTERVIEWER: Did you get married right after your two years?
      《巴黎评论》:两年大学读完以后,您就结婚了么?

      MUNRO: I got married right after the second year. I was twenty. We went to Vancouver. That was the big thing about getting married—this huge adventure, moving. As far away as we could get and stay in the country. We were only twenty and twenty-two. We immediately set up a very proper kind of middle-class existence. We were thinking of getting a house and having a baby, and we promptly did these things. I had my first baby at twenty-one.
      门罗:第二年一读完,我就结婚了,那年我二十岁。我们搬到了温哥华。搬家可是结婚中的一件大事,就像是一场盛大的冒险。我们搬到了加拿大境内我们能去的最远的地方。当时我们分别只有二十和二十二岁,很快就过上了某种体面的中产阶级生活。我们打算买一栋房子,并生一个孩子。没过多久,我们就梦想成真了。我二十一岁时就生了第一个孩子。

      INTERVIEWER: And you were writing all through that?
      《巴黎评论》:那段时间里,您也坚持写作么?

      MUNRO: I was writing desperately all the time I was pregnant because I thought I would never be able to write afterwards. Each pregnancy spurred me to get something big done before the baby was born. Actually I didn’t get anything big done.
      门罗:我怀孕的时候拼命写作,因为我觉得有了孩子后,就再也没法写了。每一次怀孕,我都备受鞭策,想在在孩子出生前写出些惊天动地的东西来。事实上,我什么惊天动地的东西也没写出来。

      INTERVIEWER: In “Thanks for the Ride,” you write from the point of view of a rather callous city boy who picks up a poor town girl for the night and sleeps with her and is alternately attracted to and revolted by the poverty of her life. It seems striking that this story came from a time when your life was so settled and proper.
      《巴黎评论》:在《感谢载我一程》里,您以一个城市男孩的视角进行写作,这个男孩相当冷酷无情,他让一位贫穷的乡镇女孩搭便车,并同她过夜、发生了关系。一开始,男孩为女孩的贫穷出身所吸引,后来又因此感到恶心。您写这篇小说时,正过着特别安稳与得体的日子,这一点似乎挺让人惊讶的。

      MUNRO: A friend of my husband’s came to visit us the summer when I was pregnant with my eldest daughter. He stayed for a month or so. He worked for the National Film Board, and he was doing a film up there. He told us a lot of stuff—we just talked the way you do, anecdotally about our lives. He told the story about being in a small town on Georgian Bay and going out with a local girl. It was the encounter of a middle-class boy with something that was quite familiar to me but not familiar to him. So I immediately identified strongly with the girl and her family and her situation, and I guess I wrote the story fairly soon afterwards because my baby was looking at me from the crib.
      门罗:我怀大女儿的那个夏天,丈夫的一位朋友拜访了我们,在我们家住了差不多一个月。他在加拿大电影局工作,当时在我们那儿拍电影。他给我们讲了许多事情,就像我们现在这样,闲谈自己的生活。他讲过一个故事,故事发生在乔治亚湾的一座小镇,还包含同当地一个女孩约会的情节。这样的邂逅发生在一个中产阶级男孩同那个女孩间,对于我来说并不陌生,但对于他来说却很新鲜。于是我立即同那位女孩、她的家庭以及她的境遇产生了强烈的共鸣,事后我很快便完成了《感谢载我一程》,毕竟我的宝宝正在婴儿床里看着我。

      INTERVIEWER: How old were you when that first book came out?
      《巴黎评论》:第一本书出版时,您多少岁?

      MUNRO: I was about thirty-six. I’d been writing these stories over the years and finally an editor at Ryerson Press, a Canadian publisher that has since been taken over by McGraw-Hill, wrote and asked me if I had enough stories for a book. Originally he was going to put me in a book with two or three other writers. That fell through, but he still had a bunch of my stories. Then he quit but passed me onto another editor, who said, If you could write three more stories, we’d have a book. And so I wrote “Images,” “Walker Brothers Cowboy,” and “Postcard” during the last year before the book was published.
      门罗:当时我三十六岁。那些年我一直在写这些短篇小说,终于,瑞尔森出版社的一位编辑给我写信,并问我是否有足够的短篇小说出一本书。瑞尔森出版社是一家加拿大出版公司,后来被麦格劳希尔集团收购。本来,那位编辑想把我和另外两三位作家放在一起、合出一本书。不过那个计划落空了,但他手头上还是有一些我的短篇。然后他离开了那家出版社,把我交给了另外一位编辑,那位编辑说:“要是你还能再写三个短篇,我们就能出书了。”于是,在第一本书出版的前一年,我写出了《图像》,《沃克兄弟公司旗下的牛仔》以及《贺卡》(Postcard)。

      INTERVIEWER: Did you publish those stories in magazines?
      《巴黎评论》:您在杂志上发表过这些短篇小说么?

      MUNRO: Most of them got into Tamarack Review. It was a nice little magazine, a very brave magazine. The editor said he was the only editor in Canada who knew all his readers by their first names.
       门罗:大多数的短篇都发表在《塔玛拉克评论》。杂志有些小众,但办得很不错,而且很大胆。那位编辑说,在加拿大,就他能叫出自己所有读者的名字。

      INTERVIEWER: Have you ever had a specific time to write?
   《巴黎评论》:您有专门的写作时间么?

      MUNRO: When the kids were little, my time was as soon as they left for school. So I worked very hard in those years. My husband and I owned a bookstore, and even when I was working there, I stayed at home until noon. I was supposed to be doing housework, and I would also do my writing then. Later on, when I wasn’t working everyday in the store, I would write until everybody came home for lunch and then after they went back, probably till about two-thirty, and then I would have a quick cup of coffee and start doing the housework, trying to get it all done before late afternoon.
      门罗:孩子们小的时候,他们一旦出门上学去,我就开始写。那些年我写的很努力。我丈夫和我开了一家书店,即便在书店工作,我也会在家待到中午。我必须做家务活,有时也用那点时间写作。后来我不用每天在店里工作了,就一直写到大家回家吃午饭,他们出门后,我又开始写,时间大概在两点半。这时我会迅速喝杯咖啡,然后开始做家务,设法在傍晚前做完家务活。

      INTERVIEWER: What about before the girls were old enough to go to school?
      《巴黎评论》:您的女儿们还不到上学的年纪时,您在什么时候写作?

      MUNRO: Their naps.
      门罗:她们小睡的时候。

      INTERVIEWER: You wrote when they had naps?
      《巴黎评论》:您在她们小睡时写作么?

      MUNRO: Yes. From one to three in the afternoon. I wrote a lot of stuff that wasn’t any good, but I was fairly productive. The year I wrote my second book, Lives of Girls and Women, I was enormously productive. I had four kids because one of the girls’ friends was living with us, and I worked in the store two days a week. I used to work until maybe one o’clock in the morning and then get up at six. And I remember thinking, You know, maybe I’ll die, this is terrible, I’ll have a heart attack. I was only about thirty-nine or so, but I was thinking this; then I thought, Well even if I do, I’ve got that many pages written now. They can see how it’s going to come out. It was a kind of desperate, desperate race. I don’t have that kind of energy now.
      门罗:对的。从下午一点到三点。我写过很多很烂的小说,不过我确实很多产。写第二本书《少女和妇女的生活》那年,我效率特别高。我得照顾四个孩子,因为女儿们的一位朋友当时和我们住在一起,与此同时,我一周还在书店工作两天。有一段时间,我一直写到凌晨一点,然后早上六点就起床。我还记得当时的想法:“你知道么,也许我就快死了,真可怕,我的心脏病就快发作了。”那时候我大概三十九岁,居然产生了这种想法。然后我又想:“好吧,死就死吧,反正我现在已经写了很多了。然后他们就会明白,我这么努力到底是为了什么。”我就这样拼命地写,就跟赛跑似的。如今我可没有当初那种精力了。

      INTERVIEWER: What was the process involved in writing Lives?
      《巴黎评论》:您写《少女和妇女的生活》的时候,又经历了些什么?

      MUNRO: I remember the day I started to write that. It was in January, a Sunday. I went down to the bookstore, which wasn’t open Sundays, and locked myself in. My husband had said he would get dinner, so I had the afternoon. I remember looking around at all the great literature that was around me and thinking, You fool! What are you doing here? But then I went up to the office and started to write the section called “Princess Ida,” which is about my mother. The material about my mother is my central material in life, and it always comes the most readily to me. If I just relax, that’s what will come up. So, once I started to write that, I was off. Then I made a big mistake. I tried to make it a regular novel, an ordinary sort of childhood adolescence novel. About March I saw it wasn’t working. It didn’t feel right to me, and I thought I would have to abandon it. I was very depressed. Then it came to me that what I had to do was pull it apart and put it in the story form. Then I could handle it. That’s when I learned that I was never going to write a real novel because I could not think that way.
      门罗:我还记得开始写《生活》的那天。是在一月的的一个周日。书店周末不开门,我去了书店,然后把自己关在了书店里面。我丈夫说他来做晚饭,所以整个下午都归我支配。我记得自己环顾四周,看着周围那些伟大的作品,不禁想到:“你这个傻子!你来这儿干嘛?”可后来,我去了楼上的办公室,开始写一个题为“艾达公主”(Princess Ida)的章节,是关于我母亲的。与我母亲相关的那些素材是我生活中最核心的素材,我总能随拿随用。一旦放松下来,它们总会用现在我脑海中。于是,我一开始写这一章节,就根本停不下笔。后来,我犯了个严重的错误。我本想把它写成一本正常的长篇小说,一本关于童年和青春期的普通小说。差不多三月的时候,我发现这行不通。我感觉有些不对劲,觉得我可能得放弃这本小说。我特别沮丧,然后意识到,我必须得拆分这本书,把它写成一本短篇小说集。那样我就能搞定了。就这样,我明白我永远也写不出真正意义上的长篇小说,因为我的思维模式就不适合写长篇小说。

      INTERVIEWER: The Beggar Maid, too, is a sort of a novel because it’s interconnected stories.
      《巴黎评论》:《乞丐少女》(The Beggar Maid)也一样,某种角度来说,这也是一部长篇小说,因为其中的短篇小说全都相互联系。

      MUNRO: I don’t want to second-guess things too much, but I’ve often wanted to do another series of stories. In my new book, Open Secrets, there are characters who reappear. Bea Doud in “Vandals” is mentioned as the little girl in “Carried Away,” which is the first story I wrote for the collection. Billy Doud is the son of the librarian. They’re all mentioned in “Spaceships Have Landed.” But I mustn’t let this sort of plan overtake the stories themselves. If I start shaping one story so it will fit with another, I am probably doing something wrong, using force on it that I oughtn’t. So I don’t know that I’ll ever do that kind of series again, though I love the idea of it. Katherine Mansfield said something in one of her letters like, Oh, I hope I write a novel, I hope I don’t die just leaving these bits and pieces. It’s very hard to wean yourself away from this bits-and-pieces feeling if all you’re leaving behind is scattered stories. I’m sure you could think of Chekhov and everything, but still.
      门罗:我不太愿意去事后评论我的小说,不过我常希望创作一部新的短篇系列。我的新书《公开的秘密》中,出现了一些在之前小说中出现的角色。《破坏者》(Vandals)中的碧·多德是《逃离》中的那个小女孩,《逃离》是我新书的第一篇小说。比利·多德则是《逃离》中那位图书管理员的儿子。《宇宙飞船已降落》(Spaceships Have Landed)中也提到了他们。不过我不会让这种安排超越这些短篇小说本身。如果我为了让小说之间相互联系而故意捏造,那么我也许犯了错,于不该着力的地方刻意着力。所以我也不知道我以后会不会创作那种系列短篇,虽然我挺喜欢这个想法。凯瑟琳·曼斯菲尔德(Katherine Mansfield)【注4】在一封信中说过一些话,大致意思是:“哎,我希望我能写长篇小说,我希望死的时候,不仅只留下这些只言片语。”如果你留下的只是些零零碎碎的故事,你就很难摆脱那种破碎感。当然,人们可以拿契诃夫等伟大的短篇小说家来反驳,不过还是没法摆脱那种感觉。

      INTERVIEWER: And Chekhov always wanted to write a novel. He was going to call it “Stories from the Lives of My Friends.”
      《巴黎评论》:而且契诃夫一直想写长篇小说。他准备把它命名为《朋辈生活故事集》(Stories from the Lives of My Friends)。

      MUNRO: I know. And I know that feeling that you could have this achievement of having put everything into one package.
      门罗:我明白。我还明白,如果能把所有东西都装进一个包裹,肯定很有成就感。

      INTERVIEWER: When you start writing a story do you already know what the story will be? Is it already plotted out?
      《巴黎评论》:您一提笔、就已经知道小说会怎么发展了么?您是不是早就构思好了?

      MUNRO: Not altogether. Any story that’s going to be any good is usually going to change. Right now I’m starting a story cold. I’ve been working on it every morning, and it’s pretty slick. I don’t really like it, but I think maybe, at some point, I’ll be into it. Usually, I have a lot of acquaintance with the story before I start writing it. When I didn’t have regular time to give to writing, stories would just be working in my head for so long that when I started to write I was deep into them. Now, I do that work by filling notebooks.
      门罗:并非完全如此。一篇好的小说在创作过程中通常都存在变数。眼下我正在写一篇小说,一开始就写的不顺手。每天早上我都写,写出来的东西却华而不实。我不喜欢正在写的这篇,但是我觉得,兴许在某个时候,我能喜欢上它。通常在进行创作前,我便很了解我要写的小说了。要是写作时间不固定,我就长时间在脑海中进行创作,一旦我开始写,就能迅速进入最佳状态。现如今,我靠记笔记来完成这种前期准备工作。

      INTERVIEWER: You use notebooks?
      《巴黎评论》:您用笔记本?

      MUNRO: I have stacks of notebooks that contain this terribly clumsy writing, which is just getting anything down. I often wonder, when I look at these first drafts, if there was any point in doing this at all. I’m the opposite of a writer with a quick gift, you know, someone who gets it piped in. I don’t grasp it very readily at all, the “it” being whatever I’m trying to do. I often get on the wrong track and have to haul myself back.
      门罗:我有一大堆笔记本,上面写着特别蹩脚的的文字,差不多是想到什么就写什么。看着这些初稿的时候,我常常想,这么做是不是毫无意义。有些有才华的作家写的特别快,就是那种文思如泉涌,下笔如有神的人,我恰好跟这种作家相反。不论我尝试做什么,我都不能立即就抓住重点。我经常文不对题,然后不得不重头再来。

      INTERVIEWER: How do you realize you’re on the wrong track?
      《巴黎评论》:您是怎么意识到您文不对题的?

      MUNRO: I could be writing away one day and think I’ve done very well; I’ve done more pages than I usually do. Then I get up the next morning and realize I don’t want to work on it anymore. When I have a terrible reluctance to go near it, when I would have to push myself to continue, I generally know that something is badly wrong. Often, in about three quarters of what I do, I reach a point somewhere, fairly early on, when I think I’m going to abandon this story. I get myself through a day or two of bad depression, grouching around. And I think of something else I can write. It’s sort of like a love affair: you’re getting out of all the disappointment and misery by going out with some new man you don’t really like at all, but you haven’t noticed that yet. Then, I will suddenly come up with something about the story that I abandoned; I will see how to do it. But that only seems to happen after I’ve said, No, this isn’t going to work, forget it.
      门罗:可能某一天我不停地写啊写,觉得自己写的不错,写的比平常也多。第二天一早,我醒来后,却不想写下去了。要是我特别不愿意接受自己写的东西,要是我必须强迫自己继续下去,那我通常知道,肯定是某些地方出了大问题。我在创作时,常常写到差不多四分之三处,就觉得自己会放弃这篇小说,这种情况还算是我意识的早的时候。后来的一到两天内,我会特别沮丧,到处发牢骚。接着,我又觉得自己可以写些别的东西了。这就像恋爱一样:你刚认识一个男人,明明不太喜欢他,却还跟他约会,并逐渐摆脱了之前失恋所产生的失望与沮丧的情绪,自己却没有注意到这一点。再接下来,我会突然想到一些跟我刚放弃掉的小说有关的素材,看看能不能继续写下去。不过这种情况似乎只会发生在我说完“算了吧,行不通,干脆忘掉好了”以后。

      INTERVIEWER: Can you always do that?
    《巴黎评论》:每次都行得通?

      MUNRO: Sometimes I can’t, and I spend the whole day in a very bad mood. That’s the only time I’m really irritable. If Gerry talks to me or keeps going in and out of the room or bangs around a lot, I am on edge and enraged. And if he sings or something like that, it’s terrible. I’m trying to think something through, and I’m just running into brick walls; I’m not getting through it. Generally I’ll do that for a while before I’ll give it up. This whole process might take up to a week, the time of trying to think it through, trying to retrieve it, then giving it up and thinking about something else, and then getting it back, usually quite unexpectedly, when I’m in the grocery store or out for a drive. I’ll think, Oh well, I have to do it from the point of view of so-and-so, and I have to cut this character out, and of course these people are not married, or whatever. The big change, which is usually the radical change.
       门罗:有时候也行不通,那么我一整天的心情都会很糟。这时我非常容易发怒。要是格里同我讲话,或是进进出出个不停,又或是不断发出声响,我就会心烦意乱,大动肝火。要是他唱歌,或者做类似的事,情况会更糟。我试着想通一些事,思来想去却只能处处碰壁,怎么也想不通。这种状态通常会持续一段时间,然后我才会放弃。整个过程大概持续一周,先是试着想明白、试着做些补救,然后完全放弃、转移目标,最后,通常是在杂货店或是外出开车时,在意想不到的情况下,我又重新陷入了那个怪圈。一般我是这么想的:“好吧,我得先从视角之类的地方入手,得去掉这个角色,这些人肯定不能结婚,诸如此类的东西。”都是些大改动,通常也很彻底。

      INTERVIEWER: That makes the story work?
      《巴黎评论》:那样就能写完小说了么?

      MUNRO: I don’t even know if it makes the story better. What it does is make it possible for me to continue to write. That’s what I mean by saying I don’t think I have this overwhelming thing that comes in and dictates to me. I only seem to get a grasp on what I want to write about with the greatest difficulty. And barely.
      门罗:我甚至都不知道能否通过这种方式把小说写得更好,不过它能让我继续写下去。所以我才说,我并不会一下子灵感迸发、神明附体一般地写下去。我花最大的力气,似乎只能大致弄清楚我想写些什么。只是勉强能弄清楚而已。

      INTERVIEWER: Do you often change perspective or tone?
      《巴黎评论》:您会经常改变视角或是基调么?

      MUNRO: Oh yes, sometimes I’m uncertain, and I will do first person to third over and over again. This is one of my major problems. I often do first person to get myself into a story and then feel that for some reason it isn’t working. I’m quite vulnerable to what people tell me to do at that point. My agent didn’t like the first person in “The Albanian Virgin,” which I think, since I wasn’t perfectly sure anyway, made me change it. But then I changed it back to first again.
      门罗:恩,是的,有时候我不确定,我会在第一人称和第三人称之间摇摆不定。我在这方面上很成问题。我经常使用第一人称,让自己融入小说之中,然后因为某些原因,我又觉得第一人称行不通,这时我特别容易受别人影响。我的代理人不喜欢《阿尔巴尼亚处女》(The Albanian Virgin)中的第一人称,当时我并非百分百确定第一人称最好,这么一想,我便换了视角。可是后来,我又换回了第一人称。

      INTERVIEWER: How consciously, on a thematic level, do you understand what you’re doing?
      《巴黎评论》:就主题这一层次而言,您在多大程度上理解自己的创作?

      MUNRO: Well, it’s not very conscious. I can see the ways a story could go wrong. I see the negative things more easily than the positive things. Some stories don’t work as well as others, and some stories are lighter in conception than others.
      门罗:其实不算很高。我知道小说会在哪些方面犯错误,而且比之小说中的积极元素,我能更轻易地发觉消极元素。例如,有些小说完成度不及其它小说,还有些小说在构思方面比其它小说要薄弱。

      INTERVIEWER: Lighter?
      《巴黎评论》: 薄弱?

      MUNRO: They feel lighter to me. I don’t feel a big commitment to them. I’ve been reading Muriel Sparks’s autobiography. She thinks, because she is a Christian, a Catholic, that God is the real author. And it behooves us not to try to take over that authority, not to try to write fiction that is about the meaning of life, that tries to grasp what only God can grasp. So one writes entertainments. I think this is what she says. I think I write stories sometimes that I intend as entertainments.
      门罗:我觉得要薄弱些。我甚至都觉得不用对那些小说太过负责。最近我在读穆里尔·斯帕克(Muriel Spark)【注5】的自传。因为她的天主教基督徒身份,她认为上帝才是真正的作者,我们最好不要尝试取代上帝的权威,也不要尝试写事关生命意义的小说,那些东西唯有上帝方可理解。所以人们只能写消遣类的作品。我觉得她就这个意思。我也觉得,有时候我写的小说仅供消遣。

      INTERVIEWER: Can you give an example?
      《巴黎评论》: 您能举个例子么?

      MUNRO: Well I think that “Jack Randa Hotel,” which I quite like, works as an entertainment. I want it to, anyway. Although a story like “Friend of my Youth” does not work as an entertainment. It works in some other way. It works at my deepest level.
      门罗: 嗯,我很喜欢的那篇《杰克·兰达旅馆》(Jack Randa Hotel)就有消遣的功效。反正我希望如此。而像《年少时的伙伴》(Friend of my Youth)就不是供消遣的小说。它的价值不在于此,于我来说意义更深。

      INTERVIEWER: Do you agonize just as much over those pieces you consider “entertainments” as over your central material?
       《巴黎评论》: 您在创作这些您认为是“消遣作品”的过程中也会伤透脑筋么,就像您在整合核心素材时那样?

      MUNRO: Yes, that’s true.
      门罗: 嗯,说的没错。

      INTERVIEWER: Are there stories that haven’t been any trouble at all to write?
      《巴黎评论》: 有没有什么小说,您在创作过程中一点麻烦也没遇到?

      MUNRO: I actually wrote “Friend of my Youth” very quickly. From an anecdote. There is a young man I know who works in the library in Goderich and researches things for me. He was at our house one night and he began to talk about neighbors of his family, neighbors who lived on the next farm. They belonged to a religion that forbade them to play card games, and so they played Crokinole, which is a board game. He just told me about that, and then I asked him about the family, their religion, what they were like. He described these people and then told me about the marriage scandal: the young man who comes along who is a member of their church and gets engaged to the older daughter. Then, low and behold, the younger sister was pregnant so the marriage has to be switched. And they go on all living together in the same house. The stuff about fixing the house, painting it over is all true too. The couple painted their half, and the older sister didn’t—half the house got painted.
      门罗:实际上我写《年少时的伙伴》就写得很快。故事原型是一则趣闻。我认识一个年轻人,他在戈德里奇的图书馆工作,并帮我做些研究。有一晚,他在我们家,谈起了住在他们家隔壁农庄的那些邻居。那些邻居所信仰的宗教禁止他们玩牌类游戏,于是他们就玩加拿大棋,一种棋盘游戏。他就跟我说了这些,然后我让他谈一谈他邻居一家,他们所信仰的宗教以及他们的性格。他向我描述了这些人,又跟我讲了发生在他们家里的婚姻丑闻:有一个年轻的男子,跟他们家同属一个教堂,然后同家里的大女儿订了婚。后来,听好了,家中的妹妹怀孕了,所以那男人换成了和妹妹结婚。之后他们三个人还是住在同一栋房子里。有关修理和粉刷房子的部分也是真有其事。那对新人粉刷了属于他们的那半边,而那一位姐姐却没有粉刷——所以房子只粉刷了一半。

      INTERVIEWER: Was there really a nurse?
      《巴黎评论》:小说中的护士真有其人么?

      MUNRO: No, the nurse I invented, but I was given the name. We had a fund-raising event at the Blyth Theater, about ten miles away from here. Everybody contributed something to be auctioned off to raise money, and somebody came up with the idea that I could auction off the right to have the successful bidder’s name used for a character in my next story. A woman from Toronto paid four hundred dollars to be a character. Her name was Audrey Atkinson. I suddenly thought, That’s the nurse! I never heard from her. I hope she didn’t mind.
      门罗:没有,护士是我虚构出来的,不过名字是别人告诉我的。离这里大概十英里处有一座布莱斯剧场,我们在那举办了一次筹款活动。每个人都拿出了一些东西用以拍卖集资,有人提出,我可以拍卖我下一个短篇小说中一个角色的起名权,谁要是竞拍成功,谁就能以自己的名字命名那个角色。一位来自多伦多的女士出价四百美元,获得了那个角色。她叫奥德丽·阿特金森。突然我想到:“护士就应该叫这个名字!”后来我再也没了她的音信。希望她别介意。

      INTERVIEWER: What was the inception of that story?
      《巴黎评论》:您刚写这篇小说时,是个什么情况?

      MUNRO: When I started to write the story we were on one of our trips from Ontario to British Columbia; we drive out every year in fall and drive back in spring. So I wasn’t writing, but I was thinking about this family in the motels at night. Then the whole story of my mother closed around it, and then me telling the story closed around my mother, and I saw what it was about. I would say that story came easily. I didn’t have any difficulty. I’ve done the character of my mother so often, and my feelings towards her, I didn’t have to look for those.
      门罗:刚写这篇小说时,我们正在安大略省去往不列颠哥伦比亚省的旅途中,每年秋天都会我们都会出游,然后春天回来,所以我没在写作。可晚上在汽车旅馆,我一直想着这一家人。紧接着,我想到了我母亲的这一生,后来我决定,围绕母亲来讲述这个故事,也弄清楚了故事的脉络。我想说,这个小说来的很容易,我没有遇到任何困难,毕竟我经常塑造我母亲这一角色,也经常写我对她的感受。我不用花功夫去找这些素材。

      INTERVIEWER: You have several mothers in your work. That particular mother appears in other stories, and she seems very real. But so does Flo, Rose’s stepmother in “The Beggar Maid.”
      《巴黎评论》:您的作品中有若干母亲形象。这篇小说里的这位母亲也出现在其他小说中,她看起来特别真实。不过《乞丐少女》中的弗洛——也就是罗斯的继母——也写的很真实。

      MUNRO: But Flo wasn’t a real person. She was someone very like people I’ve known, but she was one of these composite characters that writers talk about. I think Flo was a force because I wrote that story when I had just come back to live here after being away for twenty-three years. The whole culture here hit me with a tremendous bang. I felt that the world I had been using, the world of my childhood, was a glazed-over world of memory once I came back and confronted the real thing. Flo was an embodiment of the real thing, so much harsher than I had remembered.
      门罗:可在现实生活中并没有弗洛这个人。她很像我所认识的人,用作家们的术语来讲,这个人物是综合了现实生活中的好几些人物才塑造出来的。我觉得弗洛这个人物里有一股力量,因为写这篇小说时,我已远离故土二十三年,又重回这里定居。这里的文化氛围对我来说犹如当头棒喝。回归家乡、直面现实以后,我发现,自己作为小说素材的这个世界,这个我儿时的世界,只存在于我模糊的记忆中。弗洛就是现实的化身,这样的现实比我记忆中的要严酷的多。

      INTERVIEWER: You obviously travel a great deal, but your work seems fundamentally informed by a rural sensibility. Do you find that stories you hear around here are more resonant for you, or did you use just as much material from your life when you lived in cities?
      《巴黎评论》:您显然经常旅行,可您的作品中,似乎弥漫着一种扎根于乡土的情感。您觉得在这里听到的故事更能引起共鸣么?还是说,您住在城市的时候,也会充分在生活中发掘素材?

      MUNRO: When you live in a small town you hear more things, about all sorts of people. In a city you mainly hear stories about your own sort of people. If you’re a woman there’s always a lot from your friends. I got “Differently” from my life in Victoria, and a lot of “White Dump.” I got the story “Fits” from a real and terrible incident that happened here—the murder-suicide of a couple in their sixties. In a city, I would only have read about it in the paper; I wouldn’t have picked up all the threads.
      门罗:要是住在小城镇里,你能得知更多消息,关于各色人物的消息。而在城市里,你听到的事大多发生在与你类似的人身上。如果你是女性,就更不愁没故事听了。我的《大有不同》(Differently)灵感源自于我在维多利亚的生活经历,这段经历也在我创作《白色垃圾厂》的时候帮了我大忙。《发作》(Fits)的灵感则源于发生在这里的一个真实且可怕的事件,当事人是一对年过六旬的夫妇,一方杀死了对方后自杀。在城市里,这样的故事我只会在报纸上读到,肯定无从了解所有细节。

      INTERVIEWER: Is it easier for you to invent things or to do composites?
      《巴黎评论》:对您来说,是虚构简单,还是虚实结合简单?

      MUNRO: I’m doing less personal writing now than I used to for a very simple obvious reason. You use up your childhood, unless you’re able, like William Maxwell, to keep going back and finding wonderful new levels in it. The deep, personal material of the latter half of your life is your children. You can write about your parents when they’re gone, but your children are still going to be here, and you’re going to want them to come and visit you in the nursing home. Maybe it’s advisable to move on to writing those stories that are more observation.
      门罗:跟过去比起来,如今我的私人化写作越来越少了,原因很简单,也很明显。因为我把童年生活的经历都使用殆尽了,除非你能像威廉·马克斯韦尔那样,不断地寻访过去,从中发掘新的妙不可言的层次。你的孩子就是你后半生的素材,还是那种挖掘的很深,而且极度私人化的素材。父母过世后,你可以以父母为题材写作,可是你的孩子还在,你还得指望他们来养老院看你呢。也许更可取的是转而创作那些主要基于观察的小说。

      INTERVIEWER: Unlike your family stories, a number of your stories could be called historical. Do you ever go looking for this kind of material, or do you just wait for it to turn up?
      《巴黎评论》:还有不少您的小说可以称之为历史小说,这同您的家庭小说很不一样。您会刻意寻找这类小说的素材么,还是说,您会等待它们自己出现?

      MUNRO: I never have a problem with finding material. I wait for it to turn up, and it always turns up. It’s dealing with the material I’m inundated with that poses the problem. For the historical pieces I have had to search out a lot of facts. I knew for years that I wanted to write a story about one of the Victorian lady writers, one of the authoresses of this area. Only I couldn’t find quite the verse I wanted; all of it was so bad that it was ludicrous. I wanted to have it a little better than that. So I wrote it. When I was writing that story I looked in a lot of old newspapers, the kind of stuff my husband has around—he does historical research about Huron County, our part of Ontario. He’s a retired geographer. I got very strong images of the town, which I call Walley. I got very strong images from newspaper clippings. Then, when I needed specific stuff, I’d sometimes get the man at the library to do it for me. To find out things about old cars or something like that, or the Presbyterian church in the 1850s. He’s wonderful. He loves doing it.
      门罗:寻找素材方面,我从来没遇到过问题。我会等它们出现,而且每次他们都会出现。问题在于,我手头上有太多太多的素材,都不知道该怎么处理它们。就历史小说而言,我必须查询很多很多事实。多年以前,我就想写一篇关于某位维多利亚时期的女性作家的小说,这位女作家曾生活在这片地区。问题在于,我找不到想要的一句诗。我手头上的都很糟糕,甚至有些荒唐。我想找稍好一点的诗句,于是我自己写了一句。创作这篇小说时,我参阅了很多旧报纸,这类东西我丈夫最为擅长,他是位退休的地理学家,研究安大略省的休伦县的历史,那儿离我们的住处不远。我对这座城镇印象深刻,我叫它沃里。我也从剪报上获取了很多令人印象深刻的意象。后来,如果需要某些具体的资料,我有时会让图书馆的工作人员帮我搜集。比如关于老式汽车的信息,或者类似的资料,还有十九世纪五十年代的长老会教堂的相关资料。他干的很出色,也喜欢做这种工作。

      INTERVIEWER: What about those aunts, the wonderful aunts who appear.
      《巴黎评论》:小说中所出现的姨妈,那些妙不可言的姨妈形象又是怎么回事?

      MUNRO: My great aunt and my grandmother were very important in our lives. After all, my family lived on this collapsing enterprise of a fox and mink farm, just beyond the most disreputable part of town, and they lived in real town, in a nice house, and they kept up civilization. So there was always tension between their house and ours, but it was very important that I had that. I loved it when I was a little girl. Then, when I was an adolescent, I felt rather burdened by it. My mother was not in the role of the lead female in my life by that time, though she was an enormously important person; she wasn’t there as the person who set the standards anymore. So these older women moved into that role, and though they didn’t set any standards that I was at all interested in, there was a constant tension there that was important to me.
      门罗: 我的大姨以及祖母在我们的生活中扮演了非常重要的角色。当时,我们家的狐狸和水貂养殖产业正濒临崩溃,农场正好在城镇里面最破败的地区旁边,而大姨他们却住在不折不扣的城区里,拥有一栋漂亮的房子,过着体面的日子。所以说,我们家和她们家之间的关系一直有些紧张。不过这种关系对我来说很重要,我小的时候甚至很喜欢这种关系。到了青少年时期,我却因此焦头烂额。那段日子里,尽管母亲极其重要,她却并非我生活中起引导作用的女性,也不再充当制定规矩的角色。于是那些年长的女性取代了她的地位,尽管她们所制定的规矩我一点兴趣也没有,可那种紧张的关系一直都在,对我来说很重要。
      
      INTERVIEWER: Then you didn’t actually move into town as the mother and daughter do in “Lives of Girls and Women”?
      《巴黎评论》:所以说,您没有像《少女和妇女的生活》中那对母女一样,搬到镇里面去?

      MUNRO: We did for one winter. My mother decided she wanted to rent a house in town for one winter, and she did. And she gave the ladies’ luncheon party, she tried to break into society, which was totally impenetrable to her. She couldn’t do it. There was just no understanding there. I do remember coming back to the farmhouse that had been occupied by men, my father and my brother, and you couldn’t see the pattern on the linoleum anymore. It seemed as if mud had flowed into the house.
      门罗:有个冬天我们确实搬到镇里去了。母亲决定在那里租一所房子过冬,租好房子后,她还专门为女士们举办午餐会,希望挤进社交圈,却完全不奏效。她做不到,根本就没人理会她。我还记得我们回到农场的时候,农场里全是男人,有我爸爸,还有我的兄弟。你甚至连油布地毯上的纹路都看不清了,就好像烂泥流进过房子一样。

      INTERVIEWER: Is there a story you like that others don’t? Are there any stories your husband doesn’t like for instance?
      《巴黎评论》:有没有什么小说是您喜欢但别人不喜欢的?比方说,有没有什么小说是您丈夫不喜欢的?

      MUNRO: I liked “The Moon in the Orange Street Skating Rink” a lot, but Gerry didn’t like that story. It was from anecdotes he’d told me about his childhood, so I think he expected them to come out quite differently. Because I thought he would like it; I didn’t have qualms. And then he said, Well, not one of your best. That’s the only time we ever had trouble about anything I wrote. Since then he’s been really careful about not reading something until I’m away, and then if he likes it he will mention it, but maybe he won’t mention it at all. I think that’s the way you have to manage in a marriage.
      门罗:我很喜欢《奥兰治大街溜冰场的月亮》(The Moon in the Orange Street Skating Rink),不过格里不喜欢那篇小说。小说源自于他跟我讲的一则童年趣闻,我写出来的可能与他所设想的不同。我真心以为他会喜欢这篇小说,后来他却说:“嗯,不是你最好的一篇。”我们在我的作品上的分歧仅此一次。从那以后,他每次都小心翼翼,等我不在的时候才读我写的东西。他如果喜欢的话,事后会顺便提一句,不过也许他连提都不会提。我觉得,婚姻要想长久,就必须这样经营。

      INTERVIEWER: Gerry’s from here, less than twenty miles from where you grew up. Are his anecdotes and his memories more useful to you than those of Jim, your first husband?
      《巴黎评论》:格里也是本地人,他的家乡离您的家乡不到二十英里。对您来说,他的趣闻和回忆是不是比您的第一任丈夫吉姆更管用?

      MUNRO: No, Jim was from near Toronto. But he was from a very different background. He lived in a sort of upper-middle-class commuter town where most of the men worked in Toronto and were professional. Cheever wrote about towns like that around New York. I’d never known people of this class before, so the way they thought about things was interesting as hell, but it wasn’t anecdotal. I guess I was too hostile for a long time to appreciate it; I was more left-wing then. Whereas the things that Gerry tells me are further extensions of all the stuff I remember from growing up—though there’s an entire difference between a boy’s life in town and a girl’s life on the farm. The greatest part of Gerry’s life was probably between the ages of seven and fourteen, when the boys roamed the town in gangs. They weren’t delinquents or anything, but they did more or less as they pleased, like a subculture within the town. Girls were not part of that, I don’t think ever. We were always in little knots of girlfriends, we just didn’t have the freedom. So it was interesting to learn all this.
      门罗:并非如此,吉姆的家乡离多伦多很近,不过他的家庭背景很不一样。他当时住在一座富有中上层社会情调的郊外小镇,镇上的大多数人都在多伦多工作,都是些专业人士。契弗(Cheever)【注6】笔下的那些纽约附近的小镇就是这样。之前我从没接触过这一阶层的人,他们待人处事的方式对我来说特别有趣,但是跟趣闻那种有趣是两回事。之前我的观念偏左,长期对这一阶层怀有敌意,一直没法欣赏他们。反观格里,他告诉我的那些事则进一步加深了我打小以来的那些回忆,尽管城镇上的男孩生活与农场里的女孩生活截然不同。格里生命中最精彩的部分也许是七岁到十四岁的时候,那个年龄的男孩喜欢拉帮结派地在街上闲逛。他们并不是小混混那一类人,但多少还是喜欢由着自己的性子来,就像是镇上的亚文化群一样。女孩可不像男孩,我从来就没想过像男孩那样。我们总是有自己的小圈子,也确实没有男孩那么自由。知道这些事情还挺有趣。

      INTERVIEWER: How long did you live outside of this region?
      《巴黎评论》:您在这一地区外生活了多久?

      MUNRO: I got married the end of 1951, went to live in Vancouver, and stayed there until 1963, and then we moved to Victoria where we started our bookstore, Munro’s. And I came back, I think it would be, in the summer of 1973. So I had only been ten years in Victoria. I was married for twenty years.
      门罗:我1951年年末的婚,然后定居在温哥华,在那待到1963年。后来我们搬到了维多利亚,在那里开了门罗书店。印象中,我在1973年的夏天回到了这里。我只在维多利亚待了十年,而我的婚姻持续了二十年。

      INTERVIEWER: Did you move back east because you met Gerry, or for work?
      《巴黎评论》:您重回东部是因为遇见了格里的缘故,还是因为工作的缘故?

      MUNRO: For work. And also because I had been living with my first husband in Victoria for ten years. The marriage was unraveling for a year or two. It’s a small city. You have a circle of friends who all know each other, and it seems to me that if a marriage is breaking up, it’s very hard to stay in the same environment. I thought it would be better for us, and he couldn’t leave because he had the bookstore. I got an offer of a job teaching creative writing at York University outside of Toronto. But I didn’t last at that job at all. I hated it, and even though I had no money, I quit.
      门罗:因为工作的缘故。还有一个原因,就是我跟我第一任丈夫在维多利亚住了十年。这段婚姻经历了一到两年才彻底破裂。而维多利亚是座小城市。你的圈子里的那些朋友都彼此认识,在我看来,要是婚姻行将破裂,就很难在相同的环境继续待下去了。我觉得对我们来说,分开是个更好的选择。他还得经营书店,所以不能离开维多利亚。我找了份工作,在多伦多郊外的约克大学教授创意写作。可那份工作我压根就没做多久。我很讨厌那份工作,哪怕是当时身无分文,我还是辞掉了工作。

      INTERVIEWER: Because you didn’t like teaching fiction?
      《巴黎评论》:因为您不喜欢教授小说写作么?

      MUNRO: No! It was terrible. This was 1973. York was one of the more radical Canadian universities, yet my class was all male except for one girl who hardly got to speak. They were doing what was fashionable at the time, which had to do with being both incomprehensible and trite; they seemed intolerant of anything else. It was good for me to learn to shout back and express some ideas about writing that I hadn’t sharpened up before, but I didn’t know how to reach them, how not to be an adversary. Maybe I’d know now. But it didn’t seem to have anything to do with writing—more like good training for going into television or something, getting really comfortable with clichés. I should have been able to change that, but I couldn’t. I had one student who wasn’t in the class, who brought me a story. I remember tears came into my eyes because it was so good, because I hadn’t seen a good piece of student writing in so long. She asked, How can I get into your class? And I said, Don’t! Don’t come near my class, just keep bringing me your work. And she has become a writer. The only one who did.
      门罗:一点也不喜欢!那段经历简直不堪回首。那年是1973年,在当时的加拿大,约克算得上是一所比较锐意进取的大学了,可我班上的学生基本上全是男生,只有一位女生,还很少说话。他们写的全是当时时髦的东西,不仅难以理解,而且陈旧平庸,除此之外,他们似乎无法接受别的写法。我学会了大声反驳并阐述我的创作观,而之前我很少认真思考创作观的问题,这些确实让我受益匪浅,可与此同时,我却不知道如何和我的学生们交流,也不知道该怎么样才不会站在他们的对立面上。也许现在我知道该怎么办。不过那时候的小说课似乎与创作毫无关系,更像是一种培训,以方便学生进入电视行业,真正做到得心应手地使用陈词滥调。我本该改变那种局面,可当时却没做到。有一个学生并没有选我的小说课,但她给我看了她的小说后,我眼泪都流出来了。那篇小说写的特别好,而且我好长时间都没有看到这么好的学生作品。她问我:“我怎么才能选上您的课?”我告诉她:“千万别!千万别上我的课,你只需要继续给我看你的作品就好。”如今她成了一名作家。我的学生里,就她一个人成了作家。

      INTERVIEWER: Has there been a proliferation of creative-writing schools in Canada as in the United States?
      《巴黎评论》:加拿大的创意写作学校是不是跟美国一样,也渐渐多了起来?

      MUNRO: Maybe not quite as much. We don’t have anything up here like Iowa. But careers are made by teaching in writing departments. For a while I felt sorry for these people because they weren’t getting published. The fact that they were making three times as much money as I would ever see didn’t quite get through to me.
      门罗:大概没有多到那种地步。在加拿大,可没有像爱荷华【注7】那样的项目。不过人们可以在写作系教书谋生。有一段时间,我挺为他们感到难过,毕竟他们没有出版作品。而事实上,他们赚的钱是我的三倍,这一点我一直不怎么理解。

      INTERVIEWER: It seems the vast majority of your stories are based in Ontario. Would you choose to live here now, or was it circumstance?
      《巴黎评论》:似乎您笔下绝大多数故事都发生在安大略省。要是您自己选的话,您当时会选择在这里定居么,还是说,您在这里定居只是由于机缘巧合?

      MUNRO: Now that I’ve been here I would choose to. It was Gerry’s mother’s house, and he was living there to take care of her. And my father and my stepmother lived in the region too; we felt that there was a limited period of time when we would be at the service of these old people, and then we would move on. Then, of course, for various reasons, that didn’t happen; they’ve been gone a long time, and we’re still here. One of the reasons to stay now is that the landscape is so important to both of us. It’s a great thing that we have in common. And thanks to Gerry, I appreciate it in such a different way. I couldn’t possess any other landscape or country or lake or town in this way. And I realize that now, so I’ll never leave.
      门罗:既然我都住在这儿了,那我自然也会在当时选择这里。那时这栋房子还属于格里的母亲,格里为了照顾她也住在这里。那时候我父亲还有继母也住在附近。我们都觉得,能为老人尽孝心的时间着实有限,之后我们可以再搬到别的地方。后来,因为诸多原因,我们并没有搬走。老人们很久前就不在了,可我们还住在这里。之所以现在还留在这里,其中的一个原因是,这里的风景对我俩来说都很重要。我们能在这一点上达成共识,确实很难得。多亏了格里,我能以不同的眼光来欣赏这里的风景。要是换做别的风景,别的湖泊,别的城镇,我就没有这种归属感了。现在我充分意识到了这一点,所以我不会离开这里。

      INTERVIEWER: How did you meet Gerry?
      《巴黎评论》:您是怎么认识格里的?

      MUNRO: I had known Gerry when we were in university together. He was a senior, and I was a freshman. He was a returned World War II veteran, which meant that there were seven years between us. I had a terrific crush on him when I was eighteen, but he did not notice me at all. He was noticing other people. It was a small university so you sort of knew everybody and who they were. And he was one of that small group of people who seemed—I think we called them bohemian, when they still said bohemian; they wrote poetry for the literary magazine, and they were dangerous, got drunk and so on. I thought he was connected with the magazine, and when I wrote my first story, part of my plan was that I would take this manuscript to him. Then we would fall into conversation, and he would fall in love with me, and everything would go on from there. I took the story to him, and he said, John Cairns is the editor, he’s down the hall. That was our only exchange.
      门罗:我们上同一座大学的时候,我就认识了格里。当时他大四,我大一。他是二战退伍军人,这意味着我们之间差了七岁。我十八岁的时候迷他迷得不行,可他根本就没注意到我。他有别的心仪对象。学校很小,所以大家差不多都相互认识,知根知底。他所在的那个小团体有点“波西米亚”【注8】,反正我们当时这么叫他们,那时候人们还用“波西米亚”这个词。他们为某本文学杂志写诗,言行举止有些危险,还经常喝醉酒什么的。我以为他跟那本杂志有关系,所以写完第一个短篇小说时,我其中一个想法就是把手稿给他看。然后我们就能搭上话,再然后他就会爱上我,之后的事就会水到渠成。于是我把小说拿给他看,可他说:“约翰·凯恩斯才是编辑,他就在楼下大厅。”我们只有过这么一次交流。

      INTERVIEWER: That was your only exchange all through your years in college?
      《巴黎评论》:您在大学的这两年,只跟他有过这么一次交流么?

      MUNRO: Yes. But then, after I had published the story, he had left university. I was working as a waitress between my first and second years, I got a letter from Gerry. It was really a wonderful letter all about the story. It was my first fan letter. But it wasn’t about me at all, and it didn’t mention my beauty, or that it would be nice for us to get together or any of that. It was simply a literary appreciation. So that I appreciated it less than I might have if it had been from anybody else because I was hoping that it would be more. But it was a nice letter. Then, after I moved back to London and had the job at Western, he somehow heard me on the radio. I did an interview. I must have said where I was living and given the impression that I was not married anymore, because he then came to see me.
      门罗:是的。但我发表那篇小说以后,他已经从学校毕业了。大一和大二之间,我兼职做了服务生,那时候,格里给我寄过一封信,信中对我的小说大加赞扬。这是我收到的第一封崇拜信。可信的内容跟我毫无关系,没提我的美貌,也没建议我们俩在一起,这方面的内容一点也没有。他只是表达了对文学的喜爱之情。正因为此,收到这封信,我并不是特别高兴,要是别人寄同样一封信给我,我可能会更高兴,毕竟我希望格里寄给我的信内容能更丰富一些。不过能收到信,我还是很开心。随后,我搬到了伦敦,在西安大略大学找到了一份工作。我当时接受了一次广播访谈,而他不知怎么回事,居然从广播上得知了我的消息。我肯定在上面说了我的住址,还给人一种我离婚了的感觉,不然他后来也不会来找我。

      INTERVIEWER: And this was twenty-some odd years later?
      《巴黎评论》:这都过了二十多年了吧?

      MUNRO: Easily. More than twenty years later, and we hadn’t seen each other in the meantime. He didn’t look at all as I’d expected. He just called me up and said, This is Gerry Fremlin. I’m in Clinton, and I was wondering if we could have lunch together sometime. I knew his home was in Clinton and I thought he had probably come home to see his parents. I think by this time I knew that he was working in Ottawa, I’d heard that from somebody. And I thought the wife and children were back in Ottawa, and he’s home to visit his parents and he thought he’d like to have lunch with an old acquaintance. So this is what I expected until he turned up and I learned that he was living in Clinton and there was no wife and no children. We went to the faculty club and had three martinis each, at lunch. I think we were nervous. But we rapidly became very well acquainted. I think we were talking about living together by the end of the afternoon. It was very quick. I guess I finished out that term teaching at Western and then came up to Clinton, and we started living together there in the home where he had moved back to look after his mother.
      门罗:没错。都过了二十几年了,而且在此期间,我们从未见过面,而他的样子跟我想象中的截然不同。他给我打了电话,电话中对我说:“我是格里·弗雷姆林,我现在在克林顿。你什么时候有空,咱们一起吃个午饭吧。”我知道他家在克林顿,觉得他也许只是回来看父母而已。当时我以为他在渥太华工作,有人曾经这么告诉过我。我还以为,他的妻子和孩子都在渥太华,他只是回来探望父母,并乐意同一位旧相识共聚一次午餐。我本期待如此,结果他出现后,我却了解到,他一直住在克林顿,并没有娶妻生子。我们去了教师俱乐部,居然在午餐时间分别喝了三杯马丁尼酒。当时我俩都挺紧张,不过很快就很熟悉彼此了。下午行将结束时,我们就已经在商量要住到一起了。确实是进展神速。在西安大略的那个学期一结束,我就去了克林顿,然后我俩开始一起生活,住到了他母亲住的房子里。他之前为了照顾她早就搬回那里了。

      INTERVIEWER: You hadn’t made the decision to come back here for writing.
      《巴黎评论》:您并不是为了写作才回到这里的吧。

      MUNRO: I never made a decision with any thought of my writing. And yet I never thought that I would abandon it. I guess because I didn’t understand that you could have conditions for writing that would be any better than any other conditions. The only things that ever stopped me writing were the jobs—when I was defined publicly as a writer and given an office to work in.
      门罗:我做决定时从不考虑写作因素,但我从没想过放弃写作。我不明白,为什么有些人会认为某种环境会比另一种环境更适合写作。唯一能阻止我写作的就是各式各样的工作。 比方说,人们公认我为作家,并为我准备了一间专事写作的办公室,这时候我就没法写作。

      INTERVIEWER: That seems reminiscent of your early story “The Office”: the woman who rents an office in order to write and is so distracted by her landlord she eventually has to move out.
      《巴黎评论》:这似乎会让人想到您早期的一篇小说《办公室》(The Office):女主人公为了写作,租了一间办公室,可她饱受房东之扰,最后只得搬出去,

      MUNRO: That was written because of a real experience. I did get an office, and I wasn’t able to write anything there at all—except that story. The landlord did bug me all the time, but even when he stopped I couldn’t work. This has happened anytime I’ve had a setup for writing, an office. When I worked as writer-in-residence at the University of Queensland in Australia, I had an office there, in the English Department, a really posh, nice office. Nobody had heard of me, so nobody came to see me. Nobody was trying to be a writer there anyway. It was like Florida; they went around in bikinis all the time. So I had all this time, and I was in this office, and I would just sit there thinking. I couldn’t reach anything; I meant to, but it was paralyzing.
      门罗:那篇小说源自于我的真实经历。我确实租过一间办公室,除了那篇小说以外,我在那里什么东西也没写出来。房东的确吵我吵个不停,可就算是他不吵我的时候,我也没法写作。任何时候,只要我有个专门写作的场所,准确地说是一间办公室的时候,我就没法写作。我曾在澳大利亚的昆士兰大学做过驻校作家,英语系里有我一间办公室,既漂亮,又舒适。那里没人听说过我,所以没人来拜访我,话说回来,也没人想当作家。那儿跟佛罗里达很像,人们总是穿着比基尼四处走动。于是乎,所有的时间都归我支配,我还有一间办公室呢,可我只是坐在那里胡思乱想。我什么都想不出来,我试图想出点什么来,但压根就没法正常工作。

      INTERVIEWER: Was Vancouver less useful for material?
      《巴黎评论》:温哥华没能为您的写作提供足够的素材么?

      MUNRO: I lived in the suburbs, first in North Vancouver, then in West Vancouver. In North Vancouver, the men all went away in the morning and came back at night, all day it was housewives and children. There was a lot of informal togetherness, and it was hard to be alone. There was a lot of competitive talk about vacuuming and washing the woolies, and I got quite frantic. When I had only one child, I’d put her in the stroller and walk for miles to avoid the coffee parties. This was much more narrow and crushing than the culture I grew up in. So many things were forbidden—like taking anything seriously. Life was very tightly managed as a series of permitted recreations, permitted opinions, and permitted ways of being a woman. The only outlet, I thought, was flirting with other people’s husbands at parties; that was really the only time anything came up that you could feel was real, because the only contact you could have with men, that had any reality to it, seemed to me to be sexual. Otherwise, men usually didn’t talk to you, or if they did they talked very much from high to low. I’d meet a university professor or someone, and if I knew something about what he knew, that would not be considered acceptable conversation. The men didn’t like you to talk, and the women didn’t like it either. So the world you had was female talk about the best kind of diet, or the best care of woolies. I was with the wives of the climbing men. I hated it so much I’ve never been able to write about it. Then in West Vancouver, it was more of a mixed suburb, not all young couples, and I made great friends there. We talked about books and scandal and laughed at everything like high-school girls. That’s something I’d like to write about and haven’t, that subversive society of young women, all keeping each other alive. But going to Victoria and opening a bookstore was the most wonderful thing that ever happened. It was great because all the crazy people in town came into the bookstore and talked to us.
      门罗:我住在郊区,先是在温哥华北郊,后在温哥华西郊。在温哥华北郊,男人都早出晚归,我成天只能和一些主妇和孩子在一起。那时候有很多非正式聚会,很难有独处的时候。大家都有些争强好胜,总谈论做卫生,洗衣服,织毛衣等话题,这都快让我疯掉了。只有一个孩子那会儿,我会把她放在婴儿车里,推着她走上好几英里,以逃避聚会。跟我所成长的环境比起来,这里的环境太压抑,甚至令人窒息。有太多的禁忌,甚至连认真做事都不行。生活中处处受限,进行消遣要经人允许,提出观点要经人允许,甚至连女人的处世之道也要经人允许。在我看来,唯一的发泄渠道就是在聚会上同别人的丈夫调情。也只有在那种情况下,你才能有一些真实感。依我看,这里的女人同其他男人唯一的接触方式,似乎只能在性方面产生些实质意义。除此以外,男人通常不同女人讲话,就算讲,往往也会以居高临下的口吻讲话。我曾遇到过一位大学教授之流的人物,要是我对他了解的事物有所了解,他就不愿跟我谈话。那些男人不愿意你畅所欲言,甚至女人也不愿意你这样。于是,你所处的世界充斥着主妇特有的家长里短,谈论最美味的食谱,或是羊毛的最佳保养方法。我周围的那些主妇,他们的男人都处于事业上升期。我很讨厌那段经历,从没办法将其化作文字。后来,我们搬到了温哥华西郊,那片郊区的居民组成较为多元,并非全是年轻夫妇,我在那里交了一些很不错的朋友。我们就像高中女生那样,谈论书籍和八卦,并且目空一切。这段经历里全是些年轻叛逆,互相打气的女性。我很乐意写这段经历,但迟迟未能动笔。不过最棒的还是去维多利亚开书店的那段时光,之所以很棒,是因为镇上所有疯狂的人都会来书店同我们聊天。

      INTERVIEWER: How did you get the idea to start the bookstore?
      《巴黎评论》:您为什么会想到要开书店?

      MUNRO: Jim wanted to leave Eatons, the big department store in town. We were talking about how he wanted to go into business of some kind, and I said. “Look, if we had a bookstore I could help.” Everybody thought that we would go broke, and, of course, we almost did. We were very poor, but at that time my two older girls were both in school, so I could work all the time in the store, and I did. That was the happiest period in my first marriage.
      门罗:吉姆想离开伊顿,那是镇上的一家大型百货公司。我们讨论他应该做哪一行时,我告诉他:“听着,要是咱们开一家书店的话,我兴许能帮上些忙。”人人都觉得我们会破产,当然,我们确实差点破产了。我们很穷,不过当时我的两个年级稍大点的女儿都上学了,所以我可以一直在店内工作,我真这么做了。那段时光是我第一段婚姻中最开心的时光。

      INTERVIEWER: Did you always have the sense that the marriage wouldn’t last?
      《巴黎评论》:您一直都觉得那段婚姻不会长久么?

      MUNRO: I was like a Victorian daughter—the pressure to marry was so great, one felt it was something to get out of the way: Well, I’ll get that done, and they can’t bug me about it, and then I’ll be a real person and my life will begin. I think I married to be able to write, to settle down and give my attention back to the important thing. Sometimes now when I look back at those early years I think, This was a hard-hearted young woman. I’m a far more conventional woman now than I was then.
      门罗:我就像维多利亚时期的那些女儿一样,结婚的压力实在太大,必须先摆脱这个压力:“嗯,我能做得到,他们别想打扰我,然后我将找回自我,开始新生。”我觉得,我之所以结婚,就是为了写作,为了能够安定下来、将注意力重新集中于重要的事情。如今我有时候还会回顾早些年那些日子,并觉得:“这个年轻女人还真是铁石心肠。”眼下我比当时要传统的多。

      INTERVIEWER: Doesn’t any young artist, on some level, have to be hard-hearted?
      《巴黎评论》:某种程度上,年轻艺术家难免铁石心肠,难道不是么?

      MUNRO: It’s worse if you’re a woman. I want to keep ringing up my children and saying, Are you sure you’re all right? I didn’t mean to be such a . . . Which of course would make them furious because it implies that they’re some kind of damaged goods. Some part of me was absent for those children, and children detect things like that. Not that I neglected them, but I wasn’t wholly absorbed. When my oldest daughter was about two, she’d come to where I was sitting at the typewriter, and I would bat her away with one hand and type with the other. I’ve told her that. This was bad because it made her the adversary to what was most important to me. I feel I’ve done everything backwards: this totally driven writer at the time when the kids were little and desperately needed me. And now, when they don’t need me at all, I love them so much. I moon around the house and think, There used to be a lot more family dinners.
      门罗:要是你是女儿身,情况会更糟糕。我想一直给孩子们打电话,问他们:“你们没事吧,真没事?我也不想这么……”这么做肯定会惹他们大发雷霆,因为这会让他们觉得,自己就像某种受损了的货物。对待孩子,我有些心不在焉,而孩子能察觉到这类事情。并不是说我完全不管他们,可我没法全身心投入进去。我大女儿两岁左右时,常常在我用打字机写作时,来到我身旁,而我却一手把她扒开,一手继续打字。我跟她坦白过这段经历。这种做法不对,我这么做,会将她与我最宝贵的东西对立起来。我觉得当时我所做的一切都是本末倒置:孩子们还小,急需要我的时候,我却像着了魔似地拼命写作。而现在,他们一点也不需要我的时候,我却如此爱他们。我无精打采地在房子里晃来晃去,心里想着:“以前的家庭聚餐比现在可要多得多。”

      INTERVIEWER: You won the Governor-General’s Award for your first book, which is roughly equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize in our country. It happens only very rarely in the States that a first book wins such a big prize. When it does, the writer’s career often seems to suffer afterward.
      《巴黎评论》:您的第一本书为您赢得了总督奖,这大致相当于美国的普利策奖。在美国,很少有作家的处女作获此殊荣。如果真的一开始就拿过大奖,那位作家随后的生涯往往相当坎坷。

      MUNRO: Well, I wasn’t young, for one thing. But it was difficult. I had about a year when I couldn’t write anything because I was so busy thinking I had to get to work on a novel. I didn’t have the burden of having produced a huge best-seller that everyone was talking about, as Amy Tan did with her first book, for instance. The book sold very badly, and nobody—even though it had won the Governor-General’s Award—nobody had heard of it. You would go into bookstores and ask for it, and they didn’t have it.
      门罗:首先,获奖时我已经不年轻了。当然,获奖也并非易事。有大概一年时间,我什么东西也写不出来,因为我忙打算着写出一本长篇小说来。不过我也没什么思想负担,因为那本书并不是极其畅销,也没有多少人谈论,这和谭恩美(Amy Tan)【注9】这类作家的处女作有很大不同。我那本书卖的很差,哪怕是拿了总督奖,也没人听说过这本书。你要是去书店打听这本书,他们会告诉你没有。

      INTERVIEWER: Do reviews matter much to you? Do you feel you’ve ever learned from them? Have you ever been hurt by them?
      《巴黎评论》:您在乎那些文学评论么?您觉得从中获益过么?那些评论是否伤过您的心?

      MUNRO: Yes and no, because really you can’t learn much from reviews, you can nevertheless be very hurt. There’s a feeling of public humiliation about a bad review. Even though it doesn’t really matter to you, you would rather be clapped than booed off stage.
      门罗:在意,也不在意,书评教会你的很有限,还有可能让你很受伤。不过,每当看到一篇糟糕的评论,你还是会有种遭到当众羞辱的感觉。哪怕你真的不在乎,你也更愿意人们为你鼓掌,而不是把你赶下台。

      INTERVIEWER: Were you a big reader growing up? What work if any had an influence?
      《巴黎评论》:您成长过程中读过很多书么?有没有什么作品对您产生过很大的影响?如果有的话,都是些什么作品?

      MUNRO: Reading was my life really until I was thirty. I was living in books. The writers of the American South were the first writers who really moved me because they showed me that you could write about small towns, rural people, and that kind of life I knew very well. But the thing about the Southern writers that interested me, without my being really aware of it, was that all the Southern writers whom I really loved were women. I didn’t really like Faulkner that much. I loved Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Katherine Ann Porter, Carson McCullers. There was a feeling that women could write about the freakish, the marginal.
      门罗: 直到我三十岁,阅读都如同我的生命。书籍给了我生命。美国南方作家是第一批真正打动我的作家,他们告诉我,作家也可以写小镇风光,村人风情,以及我所熟知的生活。不过我当时真没意识到,我真正喜欢的那些人全都是女作家,这也是南方作家最吸引我的地方。我真没那么喜欢福克纳(Faulkner)。我特别喜欢尤多拉·韦尔蒂(Eudora Welty),弗兰纳里·奥康纳(Flannery O’Connor),凯瑟琳·安·波特(Katherine Ann Porter),卡森·麦卡勒斯(Carson McCullers)【注10】。我觉得,女人才写得出那些神经质以及边边角角的故事。

      INTERVIEWER: Which you’ve always done as well.
      《巴黎评论》:您也总喜欢写这类故事。

      MUNRO: Yes. I came to feel that was our territory, whereas the mainstream big novel about real life was men’s territory. I don’t know how I got that feeling of being on the margins, it wasn’t that I was pushed there. Maybe it was because I grew up on a margin. I knew there was something about the great writers I felt shut out from, but I didn’t know quite what it was. I was terribly disturbed when I first read D. H. Lawrence. I was often disturbed by writers’ views of female sexuality.
      门罗:对的。我以前就觉得那才是我们所擅长的领域,男性作家则擅长写那些与现实息息相关的长篇小说、一些主流的大部头小说。我也不知道为什么我有种身处边缘的感觉,并没有人把我逼到里。也许是因为我成长在边缘环境中吧。我也知道,那些伟大作家的身上有些我所不具备的特质,但我不是很清楚到底是什么。初读D·H·劳伦斯(D. H. Lawrence)时,我饱受困扰。作家们谈论妇女性别特征的言论经常困扰我。

      INTERVIEWER: Can you put your finger on what it was that disturbed you?
      《巴黎评论》:您能确切地指出您到底在困扰些什么吗?

      MUNRO: It was: how I can be a writer when I’m the object of other writers?
      门罗:就是说:要是我成了其他作家的写作对象,我还能当作家么?

      INTERVIEWER: What is your reaction to magic realism?
      《巴黎评论》:您怎么看魔幻现实主义?

      MUNRO: I did love One Hundred Years of Solitude. I loved it, but it can’t be imitated. It looks easy but it’s not. It’s wonderful when the ants carry off the baby, when the virgin rises into the sky, when the patriarch dies, and it rains flowers. But just as hard to pull off and just as wonderful is William Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow, where the dog is the character. He’s dealing with a subject that potentially is so banal and makes it brilliant.
      门罗:我真的很喜欢《百年孤独》(One Hundred Years of Solitude)。我特别喜欢这本小说,不过它无法模仿。有几个场景特别震撼:蚂蚁夺取了婴儿的生命,处女飞向了天空,而在家长弥留之际,空中甚至下起了花雨。不过威廉·马克斯韦尔的《再见,明天见》(So Long,See You Tomorrow)也是一部很精彩的作品,写起来也很不容易,毕竟书的主角是一只狗。如此平淡无奇的主题,他却写的熠熠生辉。

      INTERVIEWER: Some of your newer stories seem to mark a change in direction.
      《巴黎评论》:您稍近期的小说似乎标志着您改变了写作方向。

      MUNRO: About five years ago, when I was still working on the stories that were in Friend of My Youth, I wanted to do a story with alternate realities. I resisted this because I worried it would end up a Twilight Zone kind of stuff. You know, really junky stuff. I was scared of it. But I wrote “Carried Away,” and I just kept fooling around with it and wrote that weird ending. Maybe it’s something to do with age. Changing your perceptions of what is possible, of what has happened—not just what can happen but what really has happened. I have all these disconnected realities in my own life, and I see them in other people’s lives. That was one of the problems—why I couldn’t write novels, I never saw things hanging together any too well.
      门罗:大约五年前,我还在写《年少时的伙伴》中的那些短篇,那时候,我想写一篇发生在异度空间的小说。我后来放弃了这个想法,因为我怕自己写成类似《阴阳魔界》(Twilight Zone)【注11】那样的东西,就是那种毫无价值的作品。我真的很害怕。不过我还是写了《逃离》,我就这么傻里傻气地写下去,还写出奇怪的结尾。也许这跟年龄有关吧。年龄会改变你对未来和过去的认知——既包括可能,也包括事实。我的个人生活中充斥着这些现实的破碎感,在他人身上我也见过这种情况。这便是我写不出长篇小说的原因之一,因为在我看来,很多事情并非和谐统一的整体。

      INTERVIEWER: What about your confidence? Has that changed over the years?
      《巴黎评论》:那创作信心方面呢?这些年来,您的信心有变化么?

      MUNRO: In writing, I’ve always had a lot of confidence, mixed with a dread that this confidence is entirely misplaced. I think in a way that my confidence came just from being dumb. Because I lived so out of any mainstream, I didn’t realize that women didn’t become writers as readily as men, and that neither did people from a lower class. If you know you can write fairly well in a town where you’ve hardly met anyone else who reads, you obviously think this is a rare gift indeed.
      门罗:写作方面,我一直特别自信,不过我也特别害怕这种自信有些盲目。某种程度而言,我的自信源于我的愚钝。毕竟我远离所有主流圈,也没有意识到女性以及出身卑微的人都没法像男性那样轻而易举地当上作家。要是在某座城镇里,你很少碰到读书的人,又明白自己东西写的还不错,那你显然会觉得这样的才华很罕见。

      INTERVIEWER: You’ve been a master at steering clear of the literary world. Has this been conscious or largely circumstantial?
      《巴黎评论》:在撇清同文学圈的关系方面,您一直都是大师级人物。这到底是有意为之还是机缘巧合呢?

      MUNRO: It certainly was circumstantial for a long time, but then became a matter of choice. I think I’m a friendly person who is not very sociable. Mainly because of being a woman, a housewife, and a mother, I want to keep a lot of time. It translates as being scared of it. I would have lost my confidence. I would have heard too much talk I didn’t understand.
      门罗:很长一段时间里,这的确是种机缘巧合,后来却成了我主动选择的结果。我觉得自己虽然和善,却不常社交。这主要是因为身为女性,我得充当家庭主妇与母亲的角色,我需要为此留出时间。但别人却理解为我害怕社交。如果真的流连于社交场,我也许早就没了信心,而且别人谈论的好多东西可能会让我很费解。

      INTERVIEWER: So you were glad to be out of the mainstream?
      《巴黎评论》:所以能远离主流,您还是挺高兴的吧?

      MUNRO: This is maybe what I’m trying to say. I probably wouldn’t have survived very well otherwise. It may have been that I would lose my confidence when I was with people who understood a lot more than I did about what they were doing. And talked a lot about it. And were confident in a way that would be acknowledged to have a more solid basis than mine. But then, it’s very hard to tell about writers—who is confident?
      门罗:也许这正是我想说的。如果没有远离主流,我的生活大概不如现在这样平静。也许会出现这样的情况:我所接触的谈起他们熟悉的话题时滔滔不绝、充满自信,而我对此了解不多,似乎他们的文学功底比我要扎实得多,我便因此失掉信心。可话说回来,又有哪位作家真正能做到自信呢?这可不好说。

      INTERVIEWER: Was the community you grew up in pleased about your career?
      《巴黎评论》:您所成长的社区以您为荣么?

      MUNRO: It was known there had been stories published here and there, but my writing wasn’t fancy. It didn’t go over well in my hometown. The sex, the bad language, the incomprehensibility . . . The local newspaper printed an editorial about me: A soured introspective view of life . . . And, A warped personality projected on . . . My dad was already dead when they did that. They wouldn’t do it while Dad was alive, because everyone really liked him. He was so liked and respected that everybody muted it a bit. But after he died, it was different.
      门罗:他们知道我的小说多处发表,但我写的东西并不花哨,所以在家乡不是很受欢迎。他们只看到了那些性描写,粗鄙的语言,艰深难懂的情节等。当地的报纸发表了一篇关于我的社论,上面写道:“消极的人生观……此外,扭曲的人格体现在……”他们这么做的时候,我父亲已经过世了。父亲在世时,他们肯定不会这么做,因为所有人都很喜欢他。他太受人爱戴,所以他在世时,没人敢肆无忌惮地对我的作品大加评论。可他过世后,事情就大不相同了。

      INTERVIEWER: But he liked your work?
      《巴黎评论》:但是您父亲喜欢您的作品,对吧?

      MUNRO: But he liked my work, yes, and he was very proud of it. He read a lot, but he always felt a bit embarrassed about reading. And then he wrote a book just before he died that was published posthumously. It was a novel about pioneer families in the southwest interior, set in a period just before his life, ending when he was a child. He had real gifts as a writer.
      门罗:他的确喜欢我的作品,是的,而且他为这些作品感到特别骄傲。他读过很多书,谈到阅读时,却总有些尴尬。去世前他写了本书,这本书在他去世后得以出版。那是本长篇小说,写的是西南部内地的拓荒者家庭,故事发生在他出生前,结束于他的孩童时期。他绝对有当作家的天赋。

      INTERVIEWER: Can you quote us a passage?
      《巴黎评论》:您能为我们引用一段书里的内容么?

      MUNRO: In one chapter he describes what the school was like for a boy who lived a little earlier than he did: “On other walls were some faded brown maps. Interesting places like Mongolia were shown, where scattered residents rode in sheepskin coats on small ponies. The center of Africa was a blank space marked only by crocodiles with mouths agape and lions who held dark people down with huge paws. In the very center Mr. Stanley was greeting Mr. Livingston, both wearing old hats.”
      门罗:他在其中的一章,以一个生活在比他稍早时代的男孩的视角、描写了男孩对于学校的感受:“另几面墙上挂着几张褪色的地图。地图上标出了像蒙古这样有趣的地方,图上散居的人们穿着羊皮衣,骑着小马。非洲的中心空荡荡的一片,上面只标明了张着嘴的鳄鱼,以及大爪子下面压着黑人的狮子。在正中间,斯坦利先生正在跟利文斯顿先生打招呼,他俩都戴着旧旧的帽子。”

      INTERVIEWER: Did you recognize anything of your own life in his novel?
      《巴黎评论》:从他的小说中,您能找到自己生活的痕迹么?

      MUNRO: Not of my life, but I recognized a great deal of my style. The angle of vision, which didn’t surprise me because I knew we had that in common.
      门罗:没有我生活的痕迹,不过我发现,行文风格跟我特别相像。例如视角,不过我并不惊讶,因为我知道我们俩在这方面有共同之处。

      INTERVIEWER: Had your mother read any of your work before she died?
      《巴黎评论》:您母亲过世前读过任何您的作品么?

      MUNRO: My mother would not have liked it. I don’t think so—the sex and the bad words. If she had been well, I would have had to have a big fight and break with the family in order to publish anything.
      门罗:要是她读的话,她应该不会喜欢。我反正这么觉得——至少她不会喜欢那些性的描写和脏话。如果我母亲没有去世,我估计会同她大吵一架,为了出版作品和家里决裂。

      INTERVIEWER: Do you think you would have done it?
      《巴黎评论》:您真这么觉得?

      MUNRO: I think so, yes, because as I said I was more hard-hearted then. The tenderness I feel now for my mother, I didn’t feel for a long time. I don’t know how I would feel if one of my daughters wrote about me. They’re about at the age now where they should be coming out with a first novel that is all about childhood. It must be a dreadful experience to go through, becoming a character in your kid’s novel. People write carelessly wounding things in reviews like, oh, that my father was a seedy fox farmer, and things like this, reflecting on the poverty. A feminist writer interpreted “My Father,” in Lives of Girls and Women, as straight autobiographical representation. She made me into someone who came out of this miserable background, because I had a “feckless father.” This was an academic at a Canadian university, and I was so mad, I tried to find out how to sue her. I was furious. I didn’t know what to do because I thought, It doesn’t matter for me, I’ve had all this success, but all my father had was that he was my father. He’s dead now. Is he going to be known as a feckless father because of what I did to him? Then I realized she represented a younger generation of people who had grown up on a totally different economic planet. They live in a welfare state to a certain extent—Medicare. They’re not aware of the devastation something like illness could cause to a family. They’ve never gone through any kind of real financial trouble. They look at a family that’s poor and they think this is some kind of choice. Not wanting to better yourself is fecklessness, it’s stupidity or something. I grew up in a house that had no indoor toilet, and this to this generation is so appalling, truly squalid. Actually it wasn’t squalid. It was fascinating.
      门罗:嗯,是的。之前我也说过,我当时太过铁石心肠。之前很长一段时间里,我都没有现在想起母亲时的那种柔情。要是我的女儿在作品中写到我,我同样不知道该作何感想。她们现在也到了能够写出第一部作品的年龄了,内容无外乎童年记忆。如果你成为你孩子作品中的人物,你肯定会感到恐惧。还有一些人,他们在评论中随随便便,写过一些很伤人的话,比如说我爸爸是个脏兮兮的养狐狸的农民,进而讨论我们的贫困家境。有一位女性主义作家将《少女和妇女的生活》中的《我的父亲》(My Father)解读成直截了当的自传式表达。她认为我是个教养很差的人,因为我有个“无能的父亲”。那人是加拿大一所大学的学者,我当时差点气疯了,想方设法想起诉她。我怒火中烧,却不知道该怎么办,因为我觉得这对我造成不了什么伤害,我已经有了诸多成就,我父亲却因我而饱受争议。他现在已经不在了,难道说,因为我的作品,世人就将他视作一位无能的父亲么?后来我意识到,那位女学者代表了比我们年轻的一代人,那一代人所成长的经济环境与我们的有天壤之别。某种程度而言,他们所生活在福利国家之中,能享受到医疗保险。他们不知道疾病这类事物能给一个家庭带来毁灭性的打击,也没经历过真正的财政困境。他们遇到贫困家庭时,会觉得他们是咎由自取。他们还认为,不愿改善自己的生活就是无能,就是愚蠢。我小时候住的那栋房子里面连厕所也没有,对于这一代人来说,这简直骇人听闻,无比恶心。实际上,这种经历一点也不恶心,反而很引人入胜。

      INTERVIEWER: We didn’t ask you questions about your writing day. How many days a week do you actually write?
      《巴黎评论》:我们还没问过您关于写作时间安排的问题。您每周花几天时间写作?

      MUNRO: I write every morning, seven days a week. I write starting about eight o’clock and finish up around eleven. Then I do other things the rest of the day, unless I do my final draft or something that I want to keep working on then I’ll work all day with little breaks.
      门罗:每天早上我都写,一周七天都写。我大概八点开始,一直写到差不多十一点。每天剩下的时候我就做别的事,除非定稿,或者不想中断。那种情况下,我就会整天都写,基本上不休息。

      INTERVIEWER: Are you rigid about that schedule, even if there’s a wedding or some other required event?
      《巴黎评论》:就算有婚礼或者是别的活动需要参加,您也会严格按照日程表写作么?

      MUNRO: I am so compulsive that I have a quota of pages. If I know that I am going somewhere on a certain day, I will try to get those extra pages done ahead of time. That’s so compulsive, it’s awful. But I don’t get too far behind, it’s as if I could lose it somehow. This is something about aging. People get compulsive about things like this. I’m also compulsive now about how much I walk every day.
      门罗:我有些强迫倾向,我会规定自己写够一定的页数。如果某一天要外出,我就会提前把那几页写完。强迫自己到这种地步,还真是糟糕。不过这样一来,我就不会落下进度太多了,仿佛我不写下来那些文字就会永远消失。年龄大了就是这样。每天我还会强迫自己步行一段路程。

      INTERVIEWER: How much do you walk?
      《巴黎评论》:您每天步行多远?

      MUNRO: Three miles every day, so if I know I’m going to miss a day, I have to make it up. I watched my father go through this same thing. You protect yourself by thinking if you have all these rituals and routines then nothing can get you.
      门罗:每天三英里,要是某一天我走不了,我就得补上少走的路程。我见过父亲这么做过。这算是一种自我保护方式,你会觉得,只要履行了这些仪式,执行了这些程序,就不会出什么岔子了。

      INTERVIEWER: After you’ve spent five months or so completing a story, do you take time off?
《巴黎评论》:要是您花了五个月左右的时间写一篇小说,写完后会给自己放个假么?

      MUNRO: I go pretty much right into the next one. I didn’t use to when I had the children and more responsibilities, but these days I’m a little panicked at the idea of stopping—as if, if I stopped, I could be stopped for good. I have a backlog of ideas. But it isn’t just ideas you need, and it isn’t just technique or skill. There’s a kind of excitement and faith that I can’t work without. There was a time when I never lost that, when it was just inexhaustible. Now I have a little shift sometimes when I feel what it would be like to lose it, and I can’t even describe what it is. I think it’s being totally alive to what this story is. It doesn’t even have an awful lot to do with whether the story will work or not. What happens in old age can be just a draining away of interest in some way that you don’t foresee, because this happens with people who may have had a lot of interest and commitment to life. It’s something about the living for the next meal. When you travel you see a lot of this in the faces of middle-aged people in restaurants, people my age—at the end of middle age and the beginning of old age. You see this, or you feel it like a snail, this sort of chuckling along looking at the sights. It’s a feeling that the capacity for responding to things is being shut off in some way. I feel now that this is a possibility. I feel it like the possibility that you might get arthritis, so you exercise so you won’t. Now I am more conscious of the possibility that everything could be lost, that you could lose what had filled your life before. Maybe keeping on, going through the motions, is actually what you have to do to keep this from happening. There are parts of a story where the story fails. That’s not what I’m talking about. The story fails but your faith in the importance of doing the story doesn’t fail. That it might is the danger. This may be the beast that’s lurking in the closet in old age—the loss of the feeling that things are worth doing.
      门罗:我会马上开始写下一篇。我以前不会这样,因为那时候孩子还小,家务活也很重,不过那段时间,一想到要停止写作,我就很恐慌,就好像一旦停笔,就会永远停笔。我脑中积压了一大堆想法,可仅有想法还不够,仅有技巧也不够。写作时,我也离不开某种激情与信念。我曾一度拥有无穷无尽的激情与信念,那段时间内从未丢掉过它。如今我稍有变化,有时候我会想,要是没有了它我该何去何从,可我甚至都无法描述它到底为何物。我觉得,这种激情与信念实际上就是对小说本身的全身心关注,甚至同小说写的好坏与否都无甚关系。你无法预测晚年自己到底会怎样,也许晚年只会让你兴趣殆尽,甚至那些对生活满怀兴趣与责任的人也难免如此。生活于他们而言,也只是多活一日是一日。旅途中,你很容易在餐馆里那些中年人的脸上读到这种人生观,他们跟我年纪相仿,要么中年将逝,要么老年初至。每当看到这些人望着风景吃吃低笑,你就觉得,他们的姿态仿佛蜗牛那般。不知何故,你感到自己对周遭的世界渐渐有些无动于衷。如今我真切地感受到这种事情确实可能发生,类似于你预感自己会得关节炎那样,所以你开始锻炼,以防万一。如今我越发清楚,你可能失去任何东西,甚至先前生活中的一切。为了防止这种事情发生,也许只能继续坚持下去,笔耕不缀。一篇小说中有些部分可能不尽如人意,但这并非重点。就算整篇小说都不尽如人意,你也不能失去信念,你必须坚信,创作本身是一件重要的事情。只要有怀疑,便会有危险。随着年岁渐增,你慢慢不再觉得付出就有回报,也许这就是变老的可怕之处,如同猛兽潜伏,随时对你有所觊觎。

      INTERVIEWER: One wonders though, because artists do seem to work to the very end.
      《巴黎评论》:可是人们还是很好奇,因为艺术家们似乎都会为艺术坚持到最后一刻。

      MUNRO: I think it’s possible that you do. You may have to be a little more vigilant. It’s something I never would have been able to think of losing twenty years ago—the faith, the desire. I suppose it’s like when you don’t fall in love anymore. But you can put up with that because falling in love has not really been as necessary as something like this. I guess that’s why I keep doing it. Yes, I don’t stop for a day. It’s like my walk every day. My body loses tone now in a week if I don’t exercise. The vigilance has to be there all the time. Of course it wouldn’t matter if you did give up writing. It’s not the giving up of the writing that I fear. It’s the giving up of this excitement or whatever it is that you feel that makes you write. This is what I wonder: what do most people do once the necessity of working all the time is removed? Even the retired people who take courses and have hobbies are looking for something to fill this void, and I feel such horror of being like that and having that kind of life. The only thing that I’ve ever had to fill my life has been writing. So I haven’t learned how to live a life with a lot of diversity. The only other life I can imagine is a scholarly life, which I probably idealize.
      门罗:我觉得这种说法很合理。但还是保持警惕为好。二十年前,我从不担心失去对写作的信念与渴望。那种感觉类似于不会再爱。不过就算不会再爱,你也能活下去,毕竟同写作相比,它没有那么必不可少。所以我才一直写作。是的,我一天也不落下,每天都写作,就像我每天都步行一样。如果我不去锻炼,不到一周,我便会身体抱恙。你不能有一丝一毫的松懈。当然,就算放弃写作也没关系。我并不害怕放弃写作,我所害怕的,是放弃那种激情,以及任何让人继续写下去的动力。我很好奇:如果不用全天候工作,大多数人会干什么呢?就算是那些退休人士也会继续学习以及培养兴趣,就算是他们,也会找些事情来填补空虚,但我很害怕自己变成那样,或者是过上那样的生活。我这辈子只做过一件事,那就是写作。所以我从来都没学会让自己的生活多姿多彩。如果不当作家,我可能走上学术道路,除此之外别无其他选择,不过我有可能把学术生活理想化了。

      INTERVIEWER: They are very different lives too, the life of a single pursuit as opposed to the serial.
      《巴黎评论》:学术和写作可是两种很不相同的生活,一种是一辈子只有一个追求,而另一种是一辈子有一系列追求。

      MUNRO: You go and play golf and you enjoy that, and then you garden, and then you have people in to dinner. But I sometimes think what if writing stops? What if it just peters out? Well, then I would have to start learning about something. You can’t go from writing fiction to writing nonfiction, I don’t think. Writing nonfiction is so hard on its own that it would be learning a whole new thing to do, but maybe I would try to do that. I’ve made a couple of attempts to plan a book, the sort of book everybody’s writing about their family. But I haven’t got any framework for it, any center.
门罗:人们也许会去打高尔夫,而且乐在其中,然后又献身园艺,后来又请别人到自家共进晚餐。不过有时候我也会想,如果不写作,那该怎么办?要是写的越来越少,那该怎么办?也许那时候,我就得学点别的什么东西了。总不能放弃创作虚构作品,转而创作非虚构作品吧,我不觉得这可行。创作非虚构作品本身就很难,必须重新学习一整套体系,不过也许我可以试试看。我尝试过几次,计划着出一本书,就是那种所有人都在写的关于自己家庭的书。不过我还没想好框架,也没有想好主题。

      INTERVIEWER: What about the essay, “Working for a Living,” that appears in The Grand Street Reader? That reads like a memoir.
      《巴黎评论》:您怎么看您那篇发表在《格兰德大街文摘》(The Grand Street Reader)上的《为生活而工作》(Working for a Living)?那篇读起来很像是回忆录。

      MUNRO: Yes. I’d like to do a book of essays and include it.
      门罗:说的没错。我很想做一本散文集,然后把这篇收录进去。

      INTERVIEWER: Well, William Maxwell wrote about his family in that way in Ancestors.
      《巴黎评论》:对了,威廉·马克斯韦尔在《前辈》(Ancestor)中描绘他的家庭时就用到了这种写法。

      MUNRO: I love that book, yes. I asked him about it. He had a lot of material to draw on. He did the thing you have to do, which is to latch the family history onto something larger that was happening at the time—in his case, the whole religious revival of the early 1800s, which I didn’t know anything about. I didn’t know that America had been practically a Godless country, and that suddenly all over the country people had started falling down in fits. That was wonderful. If you get something like that, then you’ve got the book. It would take a while. I keep thinking I’m going to do something like this, and then I get the idea for one more story, and that one more story always seems so infinitely more important, even though it’s only a story, than the other work. I read that interview in The New Yorker with William Trevor, when he said something like, and then another little story comes along and that solves how life has got to be.
      门罗:我很喜欢这本书,真的,我还向他问起过这本书。他有很多素材可以使用,也做了该做的事情,将自己的家族史置于时代背景之中。就他个人而言,也就是十九世纪早期整个宗教复兴事件,不过对于那段历史,我一窍不知。我并不知道,其实美国人以前也不信神,突然有一天,全国各地的人们开始对神顶礼膜拜。简直是太震撼了。如果你也有类似的经历,那么你也可以出书,但这得花上一些时日。我一直想写一本类似的书,但马上一个新的短篇就在我脑海中浮现,即便它只是一篇小说,也总显得比我的非虚构写作重要。我在《纽约时报》(The New York Times)上读到了对威廉·特雷弗(William Trevor)【注12】的采访,他在采访中的大意如下:一个篇新小说的闪现,告诉我们该如何活着。

      注释:
      【注1】辛西娅·奥兹克(Cynthia Ozick, 1928 -),当代美国犹太女作家,擅写短篇小说家与散文,作品多次荣获笔会/马拉穆德奖等重要奖项。
      【注2】《塔玛拉克评论》(Tamarack Review),加拿大文学杂志,出版时间为1956年至1982年,内容包括小说,诗歌,游记,自传,文学批评以及戏剧等。
      【注3】威廉·马克斯韦尔(William Keepers Maxwell,1908 - 2000),美国小说家,编辑,散文家,儿童作家以及回忆录作家。1936年至1975年任《纽约客》编辑。作品多次荣获美国国家图书奖等重要奖项。
      【注4】凯瑟琳·曼斯菲尔德(Katherine Mansfield,1888 - 1923),新西兰现代主义派女性小说家,新西兰文学的奠基人,十九岁时移居英国。代表作品有《花园酒会》(The Garden Party)等。
      【注5】穆里尔·斯帕克(Muriel Spark,1918-2006),苏格兰女性小说家,2008年《泰晤士报》(The Times)曾将其列入1945年来最伟大的50位英国小说家之列。
      【注6】约翰·契弗(John Cheever,1912 - 1982),美国小说家,获誉“美国郊外的契诃夫”(“the Chekhov of the suburbs”),20世纪最具影响力的短篇小说家之一。作品多次荣获普利策奖等重要奖项。
      【注7】爱荷华国际写作项目(International Writing Program),简称IWP,始于1967年,与爱荷华做加工作坊(Iowa Writer’s Workshop)相辅相成,该项目旨在将写作界新星引介给爱荷华大学社区,并为其提供驻校作家机会,助其在最佳环境下写作。
      【注8】波西米亚(Bohemian),一种服饰风格与生活哲学。如今的波希米亚不仅象征着流苏、褶皱、大摆裙的流行服饰,更成为自由洒脱、热情奔放的代名词。
      【注9】谭恩美(Amy Tan,1952 - ),当代美国华裔女作家,擅写母女之间的感情纠葛,多部作品畅销,代表作《喜福会》(The Joy Luck Club)等。
      【注10】尤多拉·韦尔蒂(Eudora Welty,1909 - 2001),美国南方女性小说家,作品多次荣获普利策奖等重要奖项。弗兰纳里·奥康纳(Flannery O’Connor,1925 - 1964),美国南方女性小说家、散文家,擅写哥特小说,宗教清洁浓厚,作品曾荣获美国国家图书奖。凯瑟琳·安·波特(Katherine Ann Porter,1890 - 1980),美国南方女性小说家、散文家,记者,政治活动家,作品曾荣获普利策奖等重要奖项。卡森·麦卡勒斯(Carson McCullers,1917 - 1967),美国南方女性小说家、戏剧家、散文家、诗人,擅写孤独等主题。
      【注11】《阴阳魔界》式文学(Twilight Zone literature),涵盖式术语,意指改编自或与《阴阳魔界》电视系列剧有关的诸多书籍与漫画,此处门罗戏指缺乏文学价值的大众通俗文学。
      【注12】威廉·特雷弗(William Trevor, 1928 - ),当代爱尔兰小说家、戏剧家,获奖无数,在当代享有盛誉。
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