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现代大学英语精读(第2版)第六册:U12 Notes on the English Character(9)

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Of course there are cruel and treacherous people in England—one has only to look at the police courts—and examples of public infamy can be found, such as the Amritsar massacre. But one does not look at the police courts or the military mind to find the soul of any nation; and the more English people one meets the more convinced one becomes that the charges as a whole are untrue. Yet foreign critics often make them. Why? Partly because they are annoyed with certain genuine defects in the English character, and in their irritation throw in cruelty in order to make the problem simpler. Moral indignation is always agreeable, but nearly always misplaced. It is indulged in both by the English and by the critics of the English. They all find it great fun. The drawback is that while they are amusing themselves the world becomes neither wiser nor better.

当然有些英国人是残忍、狡诈的,你只需把目光转向政坛便可见公共耻辱的实例,比如阿姆利则惨案。然而,没有人从政坛或是军队中寻找民族精神,你结识的英国人越多,你就越相信这些指责从总体上说是虚假的。然而外国评论家经常这样指责英国人,原因何在?部分原因在于他们被英国人性格特点上的某些确实的弱点惹恼了,于是他们愤怒地将这些弱点统统归结为残忍,以便把问题简单化。道德的愤慨是可以接受的,但却是不妥当的。英国人和英国评论家均沉溺于此,他们都发现了许多乐趣。缺陷在于当他们徜徉于其中时,世人丝毫没有变得更精明或更愚蠢。
The main point of these notes is that the English character is incomplete. No national character is complete. We have to look for some qualities in one part of the world and others in another. But the English character is incomplete in a way that is particularly annoying to the foreign observer. It has bad surface —self complacent, unsympathetic, and reserved. There is plenty of emotion further down, but it never gets used. There is plenty of brain power, but it is more often used to confirm prejudices than to dispel them. With such an equipment the Englishman cannot be popular. Only I would repeat: there is little vice in him and no real coldness. It is the machinery that is wrong.
上述各点的关键之处在于英国人的性格是不完整的。任何一个民族的性格特点都是不完整的。我们必须在世界某个角落寻找某些特性,而到其他角落去寻找其他特性。然而,英国人性格不完整的方式使外国观察者感到特别烦恼。英国人的性格有一个糟糕的表面一自满、缺乏同情心、矜持。糟糕的表面下还有很多情感,却从不为英国人所用。此外,英国人还有许多聪明才智,但它往往被应用于树立偏见而不是消除偏见。具有这些性格特点的英国人是不会受欢迎的。我只想重申:英国人本身并不邪恶,也并不冷漠,一切都是体制的错。
I hope and believe myself that in the next twenty years we shall see a great change, and that the national character will alter into something that is less unique but more lovable. The supremacy of the middle classes is probably ending. What new element the working classes will introduce one cannot say, but at all events they will not have been educated at public schools. And whether these notes praise or blame the English character—that is only incidental. They are the notes of a student who is trying to get at the truth and would value the assistance of others. I believe myself that the truth is great and that it shall prevail. I have no faith in official caution and reticence. The cats are all out of their bags, and diplomacy cannot recall them. The nations must understand one another and quickly; and without the interposition of their governments, for the shrinkage of the globe is throwing them into one another's arms. To that understanding these notes are a feeble contribution—notes on the English character as it has struck novelist.
我希望并相信我们可以在未来的20年中目睹一个巨大变化,看到英国人的性格特点变得更普遍、更可爱。中产阶级的不可一世也许会终结。我们无法确定工人阶级会引入哪些新的因素,但是,无论如何他们将不会在公学体制下受教育。上述各点是赞扬还是指责英国人的性格并不是一成不变的。它们是一个追求真知的学生的笔记,将珍视他人的协助。我相信真相的伟大并且认为应该将其推广。我不相信官方的谨慎与缄默。秘密已经公开,外交也无法将其挽回。各民族必须互相了解,而且要快,不要政府的插手与干预,因为世界在缩小,这使得他们不可避免地要进行接触。理解上述笔记只是一点微薄的贡献——一个小说家对英国人性格的印象。

重点单词   查看全部解释    
reserved [ri'zə:vd]

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adj. 保留的,预订的,冷淡的,缄默的

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irritation [.iri'teiʃən]

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n. 刺激,烦恼,刺激物

 
unsympathetic ['ʌn.simpə'θetik]

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adj. 不表同情的,无情的,不共鸣的

 
blame [bleim]

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n. 过失,责备
vt. 把 ... 归咎于,

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reticence ['retisəns]

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n. 无言,沉默,谨慎

 
agreeable [ə'gri:əbəl]

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adj. 愉快的,和蔼可亲的,欣然同意的,一致的

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annoying [ə'nɔiiŋ]

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adj. 恼人的,讨厌的

 
diplomacy [di'pləuməsi]

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n. 外交

 
incomplete [.inkəm'pli:t]

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adj. 不完全的,不完整的

 
dispel [di'spel]

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v. 驱散,驱逐

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