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经济学人:都铎王朝那些事儿

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Tudor prose

都铎王朝那些事儿

Bring Up the Bodies.By Hilary Mantel.

《死尸示众》拉里·曼特尔著。

HILARY MANTEL'S Man Booker prize-winning novel, “Wolf Hall”, was a momentous work about the court of Henry VIII, as seen through the lens of Thomas Cromwell. A blacksmith's boy, Cromwell claws his way up to become Henry's ruthless fixer and one of history's great villains. The book captured the upheavals of the Tudor period and was a critical and popular hit that rescued historical fiction from its bodice-ripper reputation.

希拉里·曼特尔布克奖获奖小说《狼厅》讲述了亨利八世王朝的故事,其重要意义可通过主人公汤马斯·克伦威尔体现。克伦威尔是打铁匠的儿子,他一步步地攀到了亨利八世的身边,成为其冷酷无情的爪牙,也因此遗臭万年。该书描写了都铎王朝的种种动乱,摘下了历史小说总被冠以哥特风格爱情小说的帽子[注1],因此,《狼厅》也是一本重要的风行读物。

“Bring Up the Bodies”, Ms Mantel's sequel, takes up where “Wolf Hall” left off, and it is an outstandingly good read. The year is 1535 and Henry is in middle age, “a massive man, bull-necked, his hair receding, face fleshing out”. His “carriage, his person, are magnificent; his rages are terrifying”. In the first book Henry casts off Catherine of Aragon for Anne Boleyn. Here he tires of Boleyn—who has failed to produce a male heir—and sets to luring Jane Seymour, “modest as a drift of green-white hellebore”.

作为《狼厅》的姊妹篇,《死尸示众》绝对不容错过。1535年,正值亨利八世壮年,“他身材魁梧,体格健壮,虽说开始脱发,但依然容光焕发”。他的“人马声势浩大;他的性格也可谓雷霆万钧。在《狼厅》中,亨利为了安妮·博休掉了来自亚拉冈(西班牙一个城市)的凯瑟琳皇后;而在《死尸示众》中,亨利厌倦了未能给他诞下王储的博林皇后,转而追求“保守得像一簇绿白色藜芦”的简·西摩。

Fans of “Wolf Hall” will relish this book, but “Bring Up the Bodies” also stands alone. Covering a shorter period and with fewer characters, it demands less of the reader than the earlier instalment, in which significant historical figures walked on with little introduction. And the story of Boleyn, a glittering queen tamed to a “small voice, empty of everything except politeness”, provides a better narrative arc than Cromwell's clamber to the top, and a more grimly dramatic conclusion.

《狼厅》的粉丝们会喜欢《死尸示众》,这本书虽是《狼厅》的后续,但它仍有自己的特色。《死尸示众》的跨时更短,人物更少,因此,对读者历史背景知识的要求也就相应更少。不像在上本书中,重大历史人物出场时,作者只有只言片语的介绍。博林皇后曾经光芒万丈,但最后却沦落到“说话轻声细语,除了礼节一无所有”的田地。比起克伦威尔攀龙附凤的经历,博林皇后的故事被叙述得更加跌宕起伏,其戏剧性的结尾也更加悲凉。

Like much historical fiction, the pages of this novel are full of lust and splendid outfits. But Ms Mantel achieves much more than that. Her characters are real and vivid people who bring to life the clash of ideals that gripped England at the time. She makes the past present and vital. Boleyn's dreadful end is known before the book is even cracked opened, yet her contemplation of her last moments—“I have only a little neck”—is lonely, sad and shocking.

虽然《死尸示众》和大多历史小说一样,未能免去淫欲横流,华服遍地的俗套,但曼特尔所呈现的,远不止这些。她笔下的历史人物取材真实,活灵活现,其思想的碰撞对当时的英国有着深远的影响。曼特尔让历史重现,恍如眼前。尽管翻开书之前,人们就已知博林皇后不堪的下场,但她在被斩首前最后一刻的思考/念头——“我有的只是一个细小的脖子”——却落寞悲伤,震慑人心。

Cromwell's thirst for power, meanwhile, has continuing resonance. He finds the product of his scheming less satisfying than the work that went into its contrivance; his whole career, he reflects, “has been an education in hypocrisy”. “Those who are made can be unmade,” Boleyn notes, an idea that echoes through the book. His hard-won power and riches earn him neither love nor succour—he is a man whose only friend is the king of England. As in “Wolf Hall”, Cromwell draws the reader's admiration, but never envy.

不过,克伦威尔对权力的渴求一直都能引起共鸣。他发现,人算不如天算。他的整个谋权生涯,他反思道,“都是一场关于虚伪的教育。”博林皇后写道,“造就的也可以被摧毁”,这一观点贯穿全书。克伦威尔获得了来之不易的权力与财富,但他孤苦伶仃,无人相助——唯一的朋友只有英国国王。正如在《狼厅》中,克伦威尔让读者羡慕,但不忌妒。

重点单词   查看全部解释    
vivid ['vivid]

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adj. 生动的,鲜艳的,栩栩如生的

 
prose [prəuz]

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adj. 散文的
n. 散文

 
critical ['kritikəl]

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adj. 批评的,决定性的,危险的,挑剔的
a

 
dramatic [drə'mætik]

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adj. 戏剧性的,引人注目的,给人深刻印象的

联想记忆
resonance ['rezənəns]

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n. 共鸣,共振,洪亮

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modest ['mɔdist]

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adj. 谦虚的,适度的,端庄的

联想记忆
narrative ['nærətiv]

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n. 叙述,故事
adj. 叙事的,故事体的

 
conclusion [kən'klu:ʒən]

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n. 结论

 
clash [klæʃ]

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n. 冲突,撞击声,抵触
vt. 冲突,抵触,

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massive ['mæsiv]

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adj. 巨大的,大规模的,大量的,大范围的

 


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