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双语小说连载:纯真年代 The Age of Innocence(6)

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That evening, after Mr. Jackson had taken himself away, and the ladies had retired to their chintz- curtained bedroom, Newland Archer mounted thoughtfully to his own study. A vigilant hand had, as usual, kept the fire alive and the lamp trimmed; and the room, with its rows and rows of books, its bronze and steel statuettes of "The Fencers" on the mantelpiece and its many photographs of famous pictures, looked singularly home-like and welcoming.


As he dropped into his armchair near the fire his eyes rested on a large photograph of May Welland, which the young girl had given him in the first days of their romance, and which had now displaced all the other portraits on the table. With a new sense of awe he looked at the frank forehead, serious eyes and gay innocent mouth of the young creature whose soul's custodian he was to be. That terrifying product of the social system he belonged to and believed in, the young girl who knew nothing and expected everything, looked back at him like a stranger through May Welland's familiar features; and once more it was borne in on him that marriage was not the safe anchorage he had been taught to think, but a voyage on uncharted seas.


The case of the Countess Olenska had stirred up old settled convictions and set them drifting dangerously through his mind. His own exclamation: "Women should be free--as free as we are," struck to the root of a problem that it was agreed in his world to regard as non-existent. "Nice" women, however wronged, would never claim the kind of freedom he meant, and generous- minded men like himself were therefore--in the heat of argument--the more chivalrously ready to concede it to them. Such verbal generosities were in fact only a humbugging disguise of the inexorable conventions that tied things together and bound people down to the old pattern. But here he was pledged to defend, on the part of his betrothed's cousin, conduct that, on his own wife's part, would justify him in calling down on her all the thunders of Church and State. Of course the dilemma was purely hypothetical; since he wasn't a blackguard Polish nobleman, it was absurd to speculate what his wife's rights would be if he WERE. But Newland Archer was too imaginative not to feel that, in his case and May's, the tie might gall for reasons far less gross and palpable. What could he and she really know of each other, since it was his duty, as a "decent" fellow, to conceal his past from her, and hers, as a marriageable girl, to have no past to conceal? What if, for some one of the subtler reasons that would tell with both of them, they should tire of each other, misunderstand or irritate each other? He reviewed his friends' marriages-- the supposedly happy ones--and saw none that answered, even remotely, to the passionate and tender comradeship which he pictured as his permanent relation with May Welland. He perceived that such a picture presupposed, on her part, the experience, the versatility, the freedom of judgment, which she had been carefully trained not to possess; and with a shiver of foreboding he saw his marriage becoming what most of the other marriages about him were: a dull association of material and social interests held together by ignorance on the one side and hypocrisy on the other. Lawrence Lefferts occurred to him as the husband who had most completely realised this enviable ideal. As became the high-priest of form, he had formed a wife so completely to his own convenience that, in the most conspicuous moments of his frequent love-affairs with other men's wives, she went about in smiling unconsciousness, saying that "Lawrence was so frightfully strict"; and had been known to blush indignantly, and avert her gaze, when some one alluded in her presence to the fact that Julius Beaufort (as became a "foreigner" of doubtful origin) had what was known in New York as "another establishment."

奥兰斯卡伯爵夫人的事搅乱了那些根深蒂固的社会信条,并使它们在他的脑海里危险地飘移。他个人的断言——“女人应当是自由的——跟我们一样自由” ——击中了一个问题的要害,而这个问题在他那个圈子里却一致认为是不存在的。“有教养”的女子,无论受到怎样的伤害,都决不会要求他讲的那种自由,而像他这样心胸博大的男人却因此越发豪侠地——在激烈辩论中——准备把这种自由授与她们。这种口头上的慷慨陈词实际上只是骗人的幌子而已,在它背后止是束缚世事、让人因袭守旧的不可动摇的习俗。不过,他在这里发誓为之辩护的未婚妻的表姐的那些行为,若是出现在自己妻子身上,他即使请求教会和国家给她最严厉的惩罚也会是正当的。当然,这种两难的推测纯属假设;既然他不是个恶棍般的波兰贵族,现在假设他是,再来推断他妻子将有什么权力,这未免荒唐。然而纽兰·阿切尔想像力太强,难免不想到他与梅的关系也可能会由于远没有如此严重和明显的原因而受到损害。既然作为一个“正人君子”,向她隐瞒自己的过去是他的义务,而作为已到婚龄的姑娘,她的义务却是把过去的历史向他袒露,那么,两个人又怎能真正相互了解呢?假如因某种微妙的原因使他们两人互相厌倦、误解或发生不愉快,那该怎么办呢?他回顾朋友们的婚姻——那些被认为是美满的婚姻——发现没有一个(哪怕一点点)符合他为自己与梅·韦兰构想的那种终生相伴的热烈而又温柔的友爱关系。他意识到,作为这种构想的前提条件——她的经验、她的多才多艺、她的判断自由——她早已被精心训练得不具备了。他预感地打了个冷颤,发现自己的婚姻变得跟周围大部分人完全相同:一种由一方的愚昧与另一方的虚伪捏合在一起的物质利益与社会利益的乏味的联盟。他想到,劳伦斯·莱弗茨就是一个彻底实现了这一令人羡慕的理想的丈夫。那位仪态举止方面的权威,塑造了一位给他最大方便的妻子。在他与别人的妻子频繁发生桃色事件大出风头的时刻,她却照常喜笑颜开,不知不觉,四处游说:“劳伦斯极其循规蹈矩。”有人在她面前提及朱利叶斯·博福特拥有纽约人所说的“外室”时(籍贯来历不明的“外国人”常常如此),据说她气得脸都红了,并且把目光移开。

重点单词   查看全部解释    
overnight ['əuvə'nait]


n. 前晚
adj. 通宵的,晚上的,前夜的<

reluctance [ri'lʌktəns]


n. 不愿,勉强,厌恶



adj. 无缺点的;清白的

discrimination [di.skrimi'neiʃən]


n. 歧视,辨别力,识别

vanity ['væniti]


n. 虚荣心,浮华,自负,无价值的东西

presence ['prezns]


n. 出席,到场,存在
n. 仪态,风度

related [ri'leitid]


adj. 相关的,有亲属关系的

precision [pri'siʒən]


n. 精确,精密度
adj. 以精准的执行而著

claim [kleim]


n. 要求,要求权;主张,断言,声称;要求物

measure ['meʒə]


n. 措施,办法,量度,尺寸
v. 测量,量