使女的故事 2017年卷首语

18年的时候做的翻译,后来看到上海译文的版本包含有这部分,就放下了。最近才注意到原来出版的译文毕竟是有删节的,所以不揣浅陋,把自己的译文发出来。


IN THE SPRING of 1984 I began to write a novel that was not initially called The Handmaid’s Tale. I wrote in long hand, mostly on yellow legal notepads, then transcribed my almost illegible scrawlings using a huge German-keyboard manual typewriter that I’d rented.

我从1984年春天开始写这部小说,一开始并不叫使女的故事。先手写,多数写在黄色的记事本上,然后再用一个巨大的德语键盘打字机把难以辨认的手稿录入。

The keyboard was German because I was living in West Berlin, which was still encircled by the Berlin Wall: the Soviet empire was still strongly in place and was not to crumble for another five years. Every Sunday the East German air force made sonic booms to remind us of how close they were. During my visits to several countries behind the Iron Curtain – Czechoslovakia, East Germany – I experienced the wariness, the feeling of being spied on, the silences, the changes of subject, the oblique ways in which people might convey information, and these had an influence on what I was writing. So did the repurposed buildings. This used to belong to . . . But then they disappeared. I heard such stories many times.

键盘是德语的,因为我住在西柏林,当时仍然被柏林墙所包围。苏维埃帝国仍然巍然耸立,还要再过五年才会崩溃。每个周日,隆隆巨响提醒我们,东德空军近在咫尺。在我曾造访铁幕背后的国家——捷克斯洛伐克,东德——其间经历的种种警惕,窥探,沉默,变换话题和传递信息的隐晦方式,以及改作他用的建筑物,都影响了我的写作。“这儿以前是某某某家的,但是后来他们不见了”,这样的故事我听到过多次。

Having been born in 1939 and come to consciousness during World War II, I knew that established orders could vanish overnight. Change could also be as fast as lightning. It can’t happen here could not be depended on: anything could happen anywhere, given the circumstances.

作为生于1939长于二战其间的人,我深知既有秩序可能倏然消解。变化快如闪电。“不会在这里”是靠不住的。只要形势变化,什么事情都可能发生。

By 1984, I’d been avoiding my novel for a year or two. It seemed to me a risky venture. I’d read extensively in science fiction, speculative fiction, utopias and dystopias ever since my high school years in the 1950s, but I’d never written such a book. Was I up to it? The form was strewn with pitfalls, among them a tendency to sermonize, a veering into allegory, and a lack of plausibility. If I was to create an imaginary garden, I wanted the toads in it to be real. One of my rules was that I would not put any events into the book that had not already happened in what James Joyce called the “nightmare” of history, nor any technology not already available. No imaginary gizmos, no imaginary laws, no imaginary atrocities. God is in the details, they say. So is the devil.

在1984年之前,我已经为这部小说犹豫了一两年了。在我当时看来,写这样的小说有些冒险。从1950年代,我高中时候算起,我阅读过大量的科幻小说,推想小说,乌托邦和反乌托邦作品,但是从来没有写过这样的作品。我能写好吗?写这种小说可能落入多种陷阱,说教的倾向,讽喻的倾向,以及不足为信的风险。如果我要构建一个虚拟的花园,我希望其中的蟾蜍也足够真实。我给自己制定了一条规则,任何从未在那些乔伊斯称为噩梦的历史上发生过的事情,都不可以写进去。也不可以有任何尚未出现的技术。想象的器物,编造的法律,虚构的暴行,都不可以。人们说,上帝存在于细节之中。魔鬼也一样。

Back in 1984, the main premise seemed – even to me – fairly outrageous. Would I be able to persuade readers that the United States of America had suffered a coup that had transformed an erstwhile liberal democracy into a literal-minded theocratic dictatorship? In the book, the Constitution and Congress are no longer: the Republic of Gilead is built on a foundation of the seventeenth-century Puritan roots that have always lain beneath the modern-day America we thought we knew.

到1984年,小说的主要前提,即使在我看来,也太耸动了。我能让读者相信美国会发生一次政变,由自由民主体制变成原教旨神权专政吗?在书中,不再有宪法和国会。吉利亚德共和国建立于十七世纪清教徒传统之上,与我们自以为熟知的现代美国同源。

The immediate location of the book is Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of Harvard University, now a leading liberal educational institution but once a Puritan theological seminary. The Secret Service of Gilead is located in the Widener Library, where I had spent many hours in the stacks, researching my New England ancestors as well as the Salem witchcraft trials. Would some people be affronted by the use of the Harvard wall as a display area for the bodies of the executed? (They were.)

书中首先出现的位置是哈佛大学所在地,马萨诸塞州剑桥市。如今的哈佛大学是重要的自由教育机构,但之前曾经是清教徒的神学院。吉利亚德的特情机构位于学校的韦德那图书馆,我曾经流连于那里的书架,花很多时间研究我的新英格兰先辈和塞勒姆的猎巫审判。在书中哈佛院墙是展示被处决的人的地方(历史上确曾如此),这样的设定会不会冒犯一些人?

In the novel, the population is shrinking due to a toxic environment, and the ability to have viable babies is at a premium. (In today’s real world, studies in China are now showing a sharp fertility decline in Chinese men.) Under totalitarianisms – or indeed in any sharply hierarchical society – the ruling class monopolizes valuable things, so the elite of the regime arrange to have fertile females assigned to them as Handmaids. The biblical precedent is the story of Jacob and his two wives, Rachel and Leah, and their two handmaids. One man, four women, twelve sons – but the handmaids could not claim the sons. They belonged to the respective wives.

在小说里,由于环境有毒,人口在减少,能生孩子非常重要。(在如今的现实世界,在中国的研究显示,中国男人生育能力正在急剧下降)。在极权社会中(或者任何高度等级化的社会中),统治阶级垄断稀缺资源。因此,吉利亚德的精英们将能够生育的女性分配给自己做使女。此事在圣经中的先例就是雅各布与两个妻子,拉结和利亚,以及两个使女的故事。一个男人,四个女人,两个儿子,但是使女们于儿子没有任何名分,两个儿子分别属于雅各布的两个妻子。

And so the tale unfolds.

故事由此展开

When I first began The Handmaid’s Tale it was called Offred, the name of its central character. This name is composed of a man’s first name, Fred, and a prefix denoting “belonging to,” so it is like “de” in French or “von” in German, or like the suffix –son in English last names such as Williamson. Within this name is concealed another possibility: “offered,” denoting a religious offering or a victim offered for sacrifice.

一开始的时候,小说并不叫“使女的故事”,而是用女主角的名字“Offred”作为书名。这个名字由一个男人的名字和一个所有格前缀——类似法语的de和德语的von——组合而成(在英语中也有类似的后缀,比如Williamson)。在这个名字中还隐藏了另外一种解读,”offered”,表示宗教供奉或者牺牲品。

Why do we never learn the real name of the central character, I have often been asked. Because, I reply, so many people throughout history have had their names changed or have simply disappeared from view. Some have deduced that Offred’s real name is June, since, of all the names whispered among the Handmaids in the gymnasium/ dormitory, June is the only one that never appears again. That was not my original thought, but it fits, so readers are welcome to it if they wish.

我经常被问到,为什么主角的真名一直没有出现。我回答说,因为在历史上由太多人被改了名字或者永远消失了。有人推断Offred的真名是June,因为在女仆们在体育馆/宿舍低声说出的所有名字中,June是唯一一个再也没有出现过的。这并非我原有的想法,但也很合理,因此,如果觉得必要,读者可以如此推断。

At some time during the writing, the novel’s name changed to The Handmaid’s Tale, partly in honor of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, but partly also in reference to fairy tales and folktales: the story told by the central character partakes – for later or remote listeners – of the unbelievable, the fantastic, as do the stories told by those who have survived earth-shattering events.

在此后的写作过程中,小说的名字改成了使女的故事,部分是为了致敬乔叟的坎特伯雷故事集,此外也是将小说比做童话故事和民间故事——由小说的主角将这些难以置信的奇异经历讲给后世或远方的听众,一如惊天事件的经历者讲述亲身经历。

Over the years, The Handmaid’s Tale has taken many other forms. It has been translated into forty or more languages. It was made into a film, in 1989. It has been an opera, and it has also been a ballet. It is being turned into a graphic novel. And in April of 2017 it launched as an MGM/Hulu television series.

这些年来,使女的故事被改编成各种形式,有40多种语言的译本。1989年的时候被改编成电影。有歌剧和芭蕾舞,还有一部图画小说正在进行中。在2017年4月MGM/Hulu推出了电视剧。

In this series I have a small cameo. The scene is the one in which the newly conscripted Handmaids are being brainwashed in a sort of Red Guard re-education facility known as the Red Center. They must learn to renounce their previous identities, to know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away.

在剧中我有一个小小的客串,场景是新招募的使女在名为“红色中心”的再教育设施中被洗脑。她们必须学会放弃以前的身份,知道自己的位置和职责,明白自己没有物权,而如果顺从的话就会在一定程度上受到保护,并自轻自贱从而接受被安排的命运,而不会反抗或者逃走。

The Handmaids sit in a circle, with the Taser-equipped Aunts forcing them to join in what is now called (but was not, in 1984) the “slut-shaming” of one of their number, Jeanine, who is being made to recount how she was gang-raped as a teenager. Her fault, she led them on – that is the chant of the other Handmaids.

使女围成一圈,带电棍的嬷嬷迫使她们参加今天被称为“荡妇羞辱”(1984年的时候还没有这个名字)的活动。其中之一,Jeanine,被要求追述她十几岁时如何被强奸。“她的错,她诱使他们犯错”,其它使女如此呼喊。

Although it was “only a television show” and these were actresses who would be giggling at coffee break, and I myself was “just pretending,” I found this scene horribly upsetting. It was way too much like way too much history. Yes, women will gang up on other women. Yes, they will accuse others to keep themselves off the hook: we see that very publicly in the age of social media, which enables group swarmings. Yes, they will gladly take positions of power over other women, even – and, possibly, especially – in systems in which women as a whole have scant power: all power is relative, and in tough times any amount is seen as better than none. Some of the controlling Aunts are true believers, and think they are doing the Handmaids a favor: at least they haven’t been sent to clean up toxic waste, and at least in this brave new world they won’t get raped, not as such, not by strangers. Some of the Aunts are sadists. Some are opportunists. And they are adept at taking some of the stated aims of 1984 feminism – such as the anti-porn campaign and greater safety from sexual assault – and turning them to their own advantage. As I say: real life.

虽然这“不过是一部电视剧”,演员们可能会在咖啡时间咯咯笑,而我也不过是“假装一下”,我自己觉得这一幕非常震惊——它与太多历史太相似了。是的,女性会结伙欺负其它女性;是的,女性会为摆脱困境而指责他人:在今天,由于社交媒体方便群起围攻,这种指责尤其大行其道;是的,她们非常乐意选择与强权站在一期对付其它女性——而且,有可能,尤其是——在女性整体缺乏权力的体制中:因为权力总是相对的,而在严酷的环境中任何一点点权力都比没有要好。有些嬷嬷是真信那一套,相信她们是为了使女们好:至少她们没有被送去清理有毒废料,至少在这新社会里面她们不会被强奸,不会像以前,被陌生人强奸。有些嬷嬷是虐待狂,有些是投机分子,她们善于把1984中的女权主义——比如反色情运动和反性骚扰——拿来为自己所用。一如我说,跟现实生活一样。

Which brings me to three questions I am often asked.

由此引出三个我经常被问到的问题。

First, is The Handmaid’s Tale a “feminist” novel? If you mean an ideological tract in which all women are angels and/or so victimized they are incapable of moral choice, no. If you mean a novel in which women are human beings – with all the variety of character and behavior that implies – and are also interesting and important, and what happens to them is crucial to the theme, structure, and plot of the book, then yes. In that sense, many books are “feminist.”

第一,使女的故事是女权主义小说吗?如果你说的女权主义这样的思想形态,其中所有的女性都是天使,或者都是无力进行道德抉择的受害者,使女的故事不是这样的小说。如果你说的是小说中的女性都是性格和行为各不相同的常人,她们有趣而重要,她们的故事对于小说的主题,结构和情节至关重要,是的,使女的故事是这样的小说。在这个意义上,很多小说都是女权主义小说。

Why interesting and important? Because women are interesting and important in real life. They are not an afterthought of nature, they are not secondary players in human destiny, and every society has always known that. Without women capable of giving birth, human populations will die out. That is why the mass rape and murder of women, girls, and children has long been a feature of genocidal wars, and of other campaigns meant to subdue and exploit a population. Kill their babies and replace their babies with yours, as cats do; make women have babies they can’t afford to raise, or babies you will then remove from them for your own purposes, steal babies – it’s been a widespread, age-old motif. The control of women and babies has been a feature of every repressive regime on the planet. Napoleon and his “cannon fodder,” slavery and its ever-renewed human merchandise – they both fit in here. Of those promoting enforced childbirth, it should be asked: Cui bono? Who profits by it? Sometimes this sector, sometimes that. Never no one.

为什么要“有趣而重要”?因为现实如此。女性不是事后追加的附属物,不是人类命运的次要角色,而每个人类社会都清楚这一点。没有能够生育的女性,人口就会消亡。这就是为什么长期以来,对女性,女童和儿童的大规模强奸和谋害一直是种族灭绝和意在征服和剥削的其它运动的特征之一。像猫类一样,杀死敌方的婴孩,代之以自己的后代;让女性孕育她们无法抚养的后代,将婴儿从母亲身边夺走偷走另作他用,这是古老而普遍的主题。从拿破仑的炮灰到奴隶制和不断翻新的人口贩卖,都是如此。对女性和婴儿的控制,一直是这个星球上每个压迫证券的特征。对于那些提倡强制分娩的人,我们要问:为了谁的利益?谁从中获益?有时候是这些人,有时候是那些人,但总归有人从中受益。

The second question that comes up frequently is: Is The Handmaid’s Tale anti-religion? Again, it depends what you may mean by that. True, a group of authoritarian men seize control and attempt to restore an extreme version of the patriarchy, in which women (like nineteenth-century American slaves) are forbidden to read. Further, they can’t control money or have jobs outside the home, unlike some women in the Bible. The regime uses biblical symbols, as any authoritarian regime taking over America doubtless would: they wouldn’t be Communists or Muslims.

第二个经常被问到的问题是:使女的故事反宗教吗?同样,这取决于你觉得什么是反宗教。不错,在书中一群专制的男人控制了局面并试图恢复极端的父权制,而女性在其中(如19世纪的奴隶一样)被禁止阅读。不仅如此,与圣经中的女性不同,她们不能有钱也不能工作。该政权使用圣经中的符号,任何接管美国的专制政权无疑都会这么做:他们不会是共产党员或者穆斯林。

The modesty costumes worn by the women of Gilead are derived from Western religious iconography – the Wives wear the blue of purity, from the Virgin Mary, the Handmaids wear red, from the blood of parturition, but also from Mary Magdalene. Also, red is easier to see if you happen to be fleeing. The wives of men lower in the social scale are called Econowives, and wear stripes. I must confess that the face-hiding bonnets came not only from mid-Victorian costume and from nuns, but from the Old Dutch Cleanser package of the 1940s, which showed a woman with her face hidden, and which frightened me as a child. Many totalitarianisms have used clothing, both forbidden and enforced, to identify and control people – think of yellow stars and Roman purple – and many have ruled behind a religious front. It makes the creation of heretics that much easier.

吉利亚德的女性的朴素着装来自西方宗教肖像——太太们穿蓝色,代表纯净,源自圣母玛丽亚;使女们着红色,来自分娩的血液,如果逃走红色也容易发现;下等男人的妻子称为“经适妇”,穿条纹衣服。我要承认把脸盖起来的苏格兰帽不仅来自维多利亚中期的修女服饰,也来自1940年代Old Dutch去污粉的包装,上面的女人脸庞被遮住了,使小时候的我感到恐惧。很多极权通过推行或禁止服饰对人进行识别和控制——譬如犹太人必须佩戴黄色的犹太星,只有罗马皇帝可以使用紫色——很多极权背后是宗教。这样才容易发明异教徒。

In the book, the dominant “religion” is moving to seize doctrinal control, and religious denominations familiar to us are being annihilated. Just as the Bolsheviks destroyed the Mensheviks in order to eliminate political competition, and Red Guard factions fought to the death against one another, the Catholics and the Baptists are being targeted and eliminated. The Quakers have gone underground, and are running an escape route to Canada, as – I suspect – they would. Offred herself has a private version of the Lord’s Prayer and refuses to believe that this regime has been mandated by a just and merciful God. In the real world today, some religious groups are leading movements for the protection of vulnerable groups, including women.

在书中,主导的宗教正在控制教义,我们所熟知的宗教正被消灭。正如布尔什维克为消除政治竞争而摧毁孟什维克,红卫兵派别相互斗争到死一样,天主教和浸信会被当成目标加以消灭。教友派已经转入地下,维护着一个通往加拿大的逃生路线——依我看,他们理应如此。Offred自己带着一部主祷文,但是不相信这个政权是公正而仁慈的上帝的要求。在今天,一些宗教派别正领导者保护妇女等弱势群体的运动。

So the book is not “anti-religion.” It is against the use of religion as a front for tyranny; which is a different thing altogether.

因此,本书并不反宗教。它反对披着宗教外衣的暴政,跟宗教两码事。

Is The Handmaid’s Tale a prediction? That is the third question I’m asked – increasingly, as forces within American society seize power and enact decrees that embody what they were saying they wanted to do, even back in 1984, when I was writing the novel. No, it isn’t a prediction, because predicting the future isn’t really possible: there are too many variables and unforeseen possibilities. Let’s say it’s an anti-prediction: if this future can be described in detail, maybe it won’t happen. But such wishful thinking cannot be depended on either.

使女的故事是一则预言吗?这是我常被问起的第三个问题。甚至在1984年我写作这部小说的时候,随着美国社会的部分力量取得权力并通过颁布法令推行他们所说所想,这个问题被提起的越来越多。但它不是预言,因为预测未来本来就不可能:有太多变量,太多无法预见的可能性。倒不如说它是一部反预言:如果某种未来能够被如此细致地描述,可能就不会如此发生。当然这也只是一厢情愿,不足为据。

So many different strands fed into The Handmaid’s Tale – group executions, sumptuary laws, book burnings, the Lebensborn program of the S.S. and the child-stealing of the Argentinian generals, the history of slavery, the history of American polygamy . . . the list is long.

很多历史片段被注入使女的故事——集体处决,禁奢令,焚书,党卫队的生命之泉,窃婴的阿根廷将军,蓄奴,美国历史上的一夫多妻……列表很长。

But there’s a literary form I haven’t mentioned yet: the literature of witness. Offred records her story as best she can; then she hides it, trusting that it may be discovered later, by someone who is free to understand it and share it. This is an act of hope: every recorded story implies a future reader. Robinson Crusoe keeps a journal. So did Samuel Pepys, in which he chronicled the Great Fire of London. So did many who lived during the Black Death, although their accounts often stop abruptly. So did Roméo Dallaire, who chronicled both the Rwandan genocide and the world’s indifference to it. So did Anne Frank, hidden in her secret annex.

还有一种文学样式我未曾提及:见证文学。Offred尽其所能记下她的经历,然后把它藏下,相信将来某一天它会被某位自由人发现,理解,分享。这就是心存希望:记下的每一个故事都意味着未来的读者。漂流的罗宾逊要记日记,皮普斯这样做了,所以记下了伦敦大火。在黑死病其间生活的许多人也这么做,即使他们的记述经常突然中断。罗密欧达莱尔这么做了,记下了卢旺达种族灭绝和全世界的冷漠以对。安妮弗兰克这么做了,自己隐身于日记中。

There are two reading audiences for Offred’s account: the one at the end of the book, at an academic conference in the future, who are free to read but not always as empathetic as one might wish; and the individual reader of the book at any given time. That is the “real” reader, the Dear Reader for whom every writer writes. And many Dear Readers will become writers in their turn. That is how we writers all started: by reading. We heard the voice of a book speaking to us.

Offred的记述有两类读者:一类是未来参加学术会议的人,他们出现在小说的末尾。他们可以自由阅读但是可能未必像人们所期望的一样共情;另一类是可以在任意时间出现的读者个体。这些才是真正的读者,每一个作者心之所系的读者。很多这样的读者后来变成作者,所有的作者都是这样,通过阅读称为作者。作为读者,我们能听到一本书跟我们说话。

In the wake of the recent American election, fears and anxieties proliferate. Basic civil liberties are seen as endangered, along with many of the rights for women won over the past decades and indeed the past centuries. In this divisive climate, in which hate for many groups seems on the rise and scorn for democratic institutions is being expressed by extremists of all stripes, it is a certainty that someone, somewhere – many, I would guess – are writing down what is happening as they themselves are experiencing it. Or they will remember, and record later, if they can.

随着美国大选的落幕,恐惧和焦虑激增。基本的公民自由,随同过去几十年以至几百年赢得的女性权利,被认为处于危险境地。对于它群的仇视正在增加,各式各样的极端主义者正在表达对于民主制度的蔑视,在这样分裂的氛围中,可以肯定的是,在有些地方——我猜是很多地方——有些人正在写下他们所见所历,或者先记住,有可能的时候再写下来。

Will their messages be suppressed and hidden? Will they be found, centuries later, in an old house, behind a wall?

他们的记述会被压制被隐去吗?会在几个世纪之后在老房子的墙后被发现吗?

Let us hope it doesn’t come to that. I trust it will not.

我们希望这不会变成现实。我相信不会的。

February 2017