Gary Saul Morson 谈俄国文学英译

Gary Saul Morson 谈俄国文学英译

“俄国文学英译”貌似挺大一个题目,这里其实只是摘抄几段 Gary Saul Morson 的文章,以为备忘。

Gary Saul Morson,西北大学斯拉夫语言文学系教授,在 Commentary 杂志二〇一〇年七、八月号上有一篇文章“The Pevearsion of Russian Literature”,不客气地批评了被媒体和评论家(包括 James Wood)热捧的 Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky 俄罗斯文学英译,称这一现象为“悲剧”。

Morson 教授的观点很鲜明:Pevear-Volokhonsky 的诸多译本虽然畅销,但翻译质量或文学价值其实很低。P-V 夫妇的翻译不行,那么谁的行呢?简短的回答是 Constance Garnett。Morson 教授在1997年给友人的信中以感人的笔触写到:

I love Constance Garnett, and wish I had a framed picture of her on my wall, since I have often thought that what I do for a living is teach the Collected Works of Constance Garnett. She has a fine sense of English, and, especially, the sort of English that appears in British fiction of the realist period, which makes her ideal for translating the Russian masterpieces. Tolstoy and Dostoevsky were constantly reading and learning from Dickens, Trollope, George Eliot and others. Every time someone else redoes one of these works, reviewers say that the new version replaces Garnett; and then another version comes out, which, apparently, replaces Garnett again, and so on. She must have done something right. (The New York Review of Books, June 23, 2016, Page 4.)

当然,Garnett 的译本并非完美(纳博科夫甚至对其贬损有加,但纳博科夫对这类问题的看法恐难以为凭,他自己翻译的《叶甫盖尼·奥涅金》就被爱德蒙·威尔逊批得体无完肤,以至于二人多年的友谊因此告终。见 David Remnick, “The Translation Wars,” The New Yorker, November 7, 2005 Issue),但经过后代学者修订之后,就更臻完善了。此外,也有一些后人的新译超过了 Garnett 译本,但数量似乎不多(在翻译领域,后来居上绝不是常态),Morson 教授提到了如下几种:

Over time, in the case of a few major works, better versions were produced. Ann Dunnigan’s translations of War and Peace, Chekhov’s plays and stories, and Ivan Goncharov’s tragicomic masterpiece Oblomov provide a more accurate rendering of the language and, perhaps, an even greater degree of literary grace than Garnett’s. Bernard Guilbert Guerney accomplished the impossible with a translation of Nikolai Gogol’s enormously difficult and complex Dead Souls, conveying the weirdness, linguistic inventiveness, and perfectly timed humor that had eluded everyone else, even Garnett. To be sure, Garnett and Guerney have their flaws, including some errors in meaning, but editing by judicious scholars has often corrected those mistakes. Ralph Matlaw thoughtfully revised the Garnett version of Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, and Elizabeth Allen did the same with many works in The Essential Turgenev. Susanne Fusso’s recasting of Guerney is the only Dead Souls worth reading.

他还谈到了合格翻译要求译者具备的条件:学养和经验(P-V译本的糟糕之处反证了这一点,具体文本例证见 Pevearsion 一文)——

Above all, translators need a thoroughgoing understanding of the work and a feel for the genre in which it is written. Garnett’s Victorianization of Tolstoy was not inappropriate; to produce an English version of Tolstoy, it really does help to know George Eliot and Anthony Trollope, both of whom Tolstoy loved. For Dostoevsky, familiarity with Dickens goes a long way, as Garnett surely knew. One cannot adequately translate a work one has not experienced with critical sensitivity, because it is that experience, not just the sequence of signs on a page, that one needs to convey.

顺带一说,《大师和玛格丽特》最流行的英译本也是P-V出品,看来同样要打入另册了。Morson 教授在其 Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time 一书中引用的《大师和玛格丽特》,出自 Michael Glenny 译本

通过翻译阅读外国文学是大多数人的宿命。不论中文还是英文网站,网友七嘴八舌地议论自己对译文的见解,实在太常见了。一道菜的品质如何,你不需要是一个美食家就可以发表意见,但文学翻译这种事,除了通晓原文的学者的意见之外,几乎没有什么值得听的。

Leave a Reply