My Private Library by Shao Xunmei ~ 邵洵美 《我的书斋生活》 with English Translations

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作品原文

邵洵美 《我的书斋生活》

你们简直可以说,洵美是生活在书斋里的:会客室里是书,卧房里是书,楼梯边上也是书,连三层楼上的洗澡间里也是书。所以一定要我指出哪一间是书斋,那可不容易。也许在我卧房隔壁的一间最像,中间有只书桌,可是书桌上又堆满了书,没有地方摆稿纸,也没有地方摆砚台,我又不会用钢笔写文章。用钢笔写,我总嫌太滑,太快;它几乎不容你思想: 你下了一个种,它就为你长出了花和叶。你会不认识你自己的文章。我喜欢毛笔,它总伴着你,有时也许比你快一步,可是你总追得到。这个小房间里还有两只安乐椅;一个书架,里面是我最心爱的书籍,不肯借人的。墙上只有一张叔华画的水仙,浅淡的笔姿给你一种清高的空气;偶然在看书的时候想到自己不久要穷得不成个样子,它就会显示给你一个最伟大的希望——所以有几个晚上,我简直就呆对着这张画。
这个小房间,长不满十五尺,宽不满十尺,关于现代诗的书籍,我都放在里面: 书架里放不下,便放在桌子上;桌子上放不下,便堆在椅子里;椅子里放不下,便叠在地上。理由是我从不整理我的书籍,买到了新书就随便放,看过了又随便丢;假使为了写一篇文章,需要参考时,每每费半个一个钟头去寻觅。我的老婆又爱多事,一看我的书压住了什么账单之类的字纸,便总把那本书去放置在书架里,等到我要找的时候,便总和侦探去捉罪犯一样,查问,推敲,猜测和追求;有时又会当面错过,我的文章便只能改换一个题目了。
通常一个人有了这许多放书的房间,他便总会为他们取许多雅致的名字: 什么室,什么斋,什么楼之类。一半当然为了借这个机会可以写些大字,叫做匾的人刻好了挂起来;一半也是为自己或是家人找书的时候容易辨别。我却懒得花这种心思,所以像上面所说的那个房间,我们便叫作“楼上书房”。楼下的叫作“楼下书房”;三层楼的叫作“三层楼书房”。
我平时读书写文章,都在夜间,所以坐在“楼上书房”的机会多,因为它最近我的卧室,倦了,跨几步便到床上。但是当我准备要全夜写文章的时候,便只能待在“楼下书房”了。那时候两个大房间里只有我一个人,咳嗽,刮洋火,便不会闹醒人家;天亮了,自己燉杯牛奶,或是走到对面弄堂里买些油豆腐,谁都不会觉得讨厌。写文章,读书,本来是最个人的事情;也许老婆可以了解你工作的价值;可是为他们想,总是一种无为的牺牲。你工作的时候,他们不好意思来缠扰;工作完了,你又得休息,嫁给你一百年,至多只有五十年在一起。尤其像我这样喜欢惹是招非的人,白天总是不在家的时候多,一回家便得寻了书读;书拿到手,电话又来了。朋友又喜欢要我写文章,因为我最明白编辑的痛苦,要二三千字我总肯为他赶写。我于是要茶,要水,要香烟;忙了老婆一阵子,结果她又只能把我一个人留在房里,关好了门,去叫小孩子不要笑出太大的声音,隔了一两个钟头来张一张,看我仍是伏在桌上写,于是再关上门,要是我已躺在椅子里睡着了,便把燃着的香烟头先丢在盂子里,再把绒毯子轻轻地盖在我身上。想到这种情形,我便十二分惭愧: 一个人究竟不应当自私到这种田地。可是看见一本心爱的新书,便总买回来读;朋友要文章,总是满口允认。
我是无论如何脱离不了我的书斋的了。但是除非在我读书或是写文章到了出神的时候,我总会感觉到这几间书斋没有一间是舒服的。我理想的书斋是一个极大的房间,里面要能容下二十个书架,冬天有热水汀;夏天有冷气;最好是像马赛尔·普罗斯脱的书斋一样,四面的墙壁包上软木,外面有什么汽车喇叭的声音,里面都听不到。我希望有一只最大的书桌,上面可以尽我把书籍纸张乱堆,中间还可以留一些地方安置笔砚稿纸之类。记得北岩爵士曾说“小房间会小你的头脑;要写大文章,非有一个大书斋不可”。这个当然是我的奢望: 我既没有财力去得到那样大的书斋,我也没有才力去写出什么大文章来,不过希望也是一种安慰,同时还是一种鼓励。
但是,无论如何,我白天是写不出文章的。“楼上书房”的光线太大,多待了会头痛,用了太厚的窗帏又会闷气。“楼下书房”事实上又是会客间,我的客人又多,文章写到一半,来了几个朋友,反而大家不舒服。我写文章还有一个坏习惯,和吃饭一样不能停,一停了就吃不下;有一次写一篇关于现代诗的文章,中间来了一个朋友,到现在还没有把它续完。所以假使有什么副刊编辑要我写那种分期登载的长篇小说,他一定会受累。但是夜里写文章,一忽便会天亮;一天不睡,三天都不能使精神恢复,我于是时常头痛。去找医生,他们总是皱紧了眉头叹口气。“三层楼书房”现在已放了一个床,我的表弟睡在里面,所以我除了寻书便不常去了。
事实上,我已不应当对我的书斋发什么牢骚,虽然不大,可是究竟容得下我。况且他们也不算对不起我,自从去年秋天搬到此地,真名假名的文章,将近十五万字了。

 

 

作品译文

 

 

My Private Library

You may as well call me a bookworm. I have books everywhere in my home – in the drawing room and the bedroom, on either side of the staircase, and even in the bathroom on the third floor. So it’s next to impossible for me to point out exactly where my study is. Maybe it’s the room next to my bedroom. In the middle of it stands nothing but a desk piled high with lots of books so that there is practically no room for me to place my writing paper and the inkstone. The inkstone is indispensable to me because I always use a writing brush instead of a pen in doing my writing. I find the pen too slippery and moving a bit too fast, thus leaving little time for me to do more thinking. I prefer the writing brush because I can always keep pace with it. Though it sometimes may also move along a bit too fast, yet I can always catch up. There are only two armchairs in the room plus a bookcase holding my most favorite books, which are not to be borrowed by anybody. Hanging on the wall is a painting of narcissi done with light touches of ink imparting an air of moral superiority. Occasionally, while I am reading, I suddenly realize I’ll soon face penury. Then the painting will cheer me up with bright hopes. On several nights, I just sat in this room staring at it blankly.
The little room is about 5 meters in length and 3 meters in width. I keep all books on modern poetry there. Then the bookcase is full, I put them on the desk. Then the desk is full, I pile them up on the chairs. When the chairs are full, I pile them up on the floor. I never sort them out. I lay aside casually new acquisitions as well as books I’ve just finished reading. Consequently, it often takes me couple of hours to hunt down a book for reference when I am writing.
Generally speaking, with so many rooms for storing books, one will assign to each an elegant name, to be inscribed on a horizontal board hung above the door, partly for show and partly for convenience. I, nevertheless, have never been in a mood for doing the same. I just call the above-mentioned room “Upstairs Study”, the room downstairs “Downstairs Study” and the bathroom on the third floor “Third-floor Study”.
Since I usually read and write at night, you’ll often find me sitting in the “Upstairs Study” because it is close to my bedroom. When I feel drowsy, I can easily reach my bed only a few steps away. But you’ll find me in the spacious “Downstairs Study” instead when I’m to spend the whole night writing. There I can cough or strike a match without disturbing my folks in their sleep. At daybreak, I will heat up milk for myself or walk to an alley on the opposite side of the street to buy some fried bean curd for breakfast – all done without making a nuisance of myself. I’m seldom at home in the daytime. But, I’ll start reading soon after I come back. Then I’ll be suddenly interrupted by phone calls from editor-friends asking for my contributions. They know that I, out of compassion for editors, will never decline to dash off an article of two to three thousand words.
At any rate, I’m inseparable from my library. But none of my three studies makes me feel comfortable except when I’m completely absorbed in reading or writing. My ideal study should be roomy enough for holding twenty bookcases and have air-conditioning. And there should be a large desk there with enough space for books and writing paper to be jumbled up in piles on either side and for writing brush, inkstone, writing paper and so on to be placed in the middle. This is of course nothing but my wishful thinking. I have neither money to own such a roomy study, nor talent for creating masterpieces. Nevertheless, the extravagant hope brings me consolation all the same. It’s sort of encouragement too.
But, anyway I can’t work efficiently in the daytime. The “Upstairs Study” is too much lit up by the sun, so that I get a headache after staying there a bit too long. And a thick window curtain would only make the room stuffy. The “Downstairs Study” is in fact a drawing room-cum-study. I have frequent visitors. When they call, I have to break off writing to the discomfort of both parties. I’m in the bad habit of finishing my article at one go like when I eat a meal. Once interrupted, I just can’t resume eating. Once, while writing an article on modern poetry, I was interrupted by a friend visiting. As a result, the article remains unfinished even today. Therefore, a newspaper editor would inevitably end up in trouble if he should entrust me with the job of writing a serialized novel for his supplement. But, when I write at night, the day seems to break sooner than I think. And one sleepless night will make me feel tired for three days on end and often suffer from a headache. When I go to see a doctor, he will just sigh with a frown. As to the “Third-floor Study”, a bed has now been placed there for my younger male cousin. So I seldom go there unless when I need a book.
In fact, I shouldn’t have complaints about my studies. Small as they are, they are tolerable. Since I moved to the present lodgings in the autumn of last year, I’ve produced writings, under my real name or a pseudonym, totaling about 150,000 words.

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