讀 狄更斯『德魯德疑案』（ The Mystery of Edwin Drood (unfinished) (1870) ，項星耀譯）首章注解：狄更斯在這章的寫作要點曾寫道：「
他的靈魂即可得救。」（這可能就是 W. E. Deming 每天之禱詞）以 西 結 書 Ezekiel18:27 [hb5] 再者、惡人若回頭離開所行的惡、行正直與合理的事、 他必將性命救活了．[lb5] 再者，惡人若回轉離開他所行的惡，而行公平正義的事， 他就會將性命救活。[nb5] 還有，惡人若回轉離開他所行的惡，行正直公義的事， 他就可以使自己的性命存活。[asv] Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.[kjv] Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.[bbe] Again, when the evil-doer, turning away from the evil he has done, does what is ordered and right, he will have life for his soul.Source: Charles Dickens : « The Mystery of Edwin Drood » Chapter XIII : Both At Their Best
Nor were these the only tokens of dispersal. Boxes appeared in the bedrooms (where they were capital at other times), and a surprising amount of packing took place, out of all proportion to the amount packed. Largess, in the form of odds and ends of cold cream and pomatum, and also of hairpins, was freely distributed among the attendants.
幾間臥室內的盒子，和數量可觀的包裹， 與實際包裝的總量不成比例。贈品以是零星的冷霜和髪蠟， 免費發放給出席者。放假的標誌還不僅這些。寢室內堆滿了箱籠匣子（ 它們在平時是不露面的），驚人的包裝工作在大量進行裹， 遠遠超過了包裝物品的需要比例。禮品是零散殘餘的冷霜和髪油， 隨意分贈給僕人。
BOOKS FEBRUARY 14, 2009 A Tale of Two Authors
By Dan Simmons
Little, Brown, 775 pages, $26.99
In his groundbreaking thrillers "The Moonstone" and "The Woman in White," the Victorian novelist Wilkie Collins used multiple narrators to keep readers guessing about who was telling the truth, and who wasn't, when it came to sensational crimes. In Dan Simmons's "Drood," Collins himself tells the story -- and readers will be kept guessing here, too, because Collins proves to be an unreliable narrator, not least when he relates events involving his friend and mentor, Charles Dickens.
With "Drood," Mr. Simmons, the author "The Terror" and other thrillers, is acknowledging his debt to Collins and other mid-19th-century writers whose novels of "sensation" -- dealing with such matters as adultery, theft and murder -- were precursors of today's detective stories and crime thrillers. Few contemporary works, though, can match the richness of Collins's marvelous creations. Novels of sensation were such a hit with readers that even Dickens, in his waning years, was trying his hand at one, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," when he died in 1870, leaving the manuscript unfinished.
Beyond tipping his hat to Collins, Mr. Simmons seems intent on giving readers a taste of an age when thrillers were new -- and their actual writing perhaps dangerous. "Drood" begins with a historical event: an accident in 1865 on a railroad bridge at Staplehurst, England. With track under repair, a train ran off the rails, sending several cars plunging into the river below -- but one first-class car remained on the bridge. Among the car's passengers was Charles Dickens, who rushed to help survivors in the wreckage below. Ten people died and dozens were injured.
It is Mr. Simmons's inspiration to imagine that Dickens, as he tends to the injured, meets a mysterious figure known as Drood -- who will become the title character in the writer's last book and, of more immediate concern, will come to dominate the lives of both Dickens and Collins as Mr. Simmons's tale unfolds.
Drood, it seems, is a criminal mastermind with sinister mesmeric skills that he uses to control people. When Collins perceives that his friend Dickens is falling under the sway of this menacing character, Collins begins to investigate -- but soon finds himself being pulled into Drood's orbit as well.
One of the pleasures of "Drood" is that we learn much about Dickens's home life and work habits. Collins was a real-life Dickens insider, a collaborator on stories and plays as well as a close family friend (his younger brother married Dickens's youngest surviving daughter). These sections of the book ring with authenticity.
When Mr. Simmons ventures into pure fiction, though, the results are less convincing. Seizing on the fact that Collins was a laudanum addict (he took it, he said, to alleviate the pain from crippling gout), Mr. Simmons gives us Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens allowing themselves to be drawn into a criminal world of drugs and murder. Then again, perhaps not: Since Collins is often in a druggy haze, he may be imagining some of the terrible events that he believes are real.
At close to 800 pages, "Drood" imitates the length and scope of a Victorian novel without quite the virtuosity. But it is, at times, an engrossing mystery tale, and it offers a compelling portrait of two famous novelists and their evolving friendship, not to mention a portrait of 19th-century England's underworld and literary scene.
Mr. Hughes, a writer in New York, is the author of the novel "Late and Soon."
Write to Robert J. Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org
2009.11.21 Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" 聖誕故事集
译者: 汪惆然 / 金绍禹 / 邹绿芷 / 戴侃 / 高殿森
A singular storyteller whose life informed an epic writing careerBy DAVID PROPSON
It has been said that Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" created the holiday as we know it. Even the latest Hollywood iteration, a big-budget computer-animated extravaganza, is substantially faithful to the early-Victorian original. A celebration once banned by Puritans in America and England became the very symbol of Victorian domesticity, and Dickens set the tone with his vision of miserliness overthrown in favor of family, forgiveness and large game birds.
As Michael Slater's captivating biography makes clear, it can also be said that "A Christmas Carol" created Charles Dickens as we know him today. Written in what Mr. Slater calls "a white heat of excitement" in the fall of 1843, the short book was Dickens's most direct address yet to members of a reading public who, upon his death a quarter-century later, would feel themselves "to be on terms of personal friendship with the man."
"A Christmas Carol" was the first extended work of fiction that made its debut in the marketplace under the name Charles Dickens. Previously readers knew him as Boz, a pseudonym he'd begun using as a jobbing journalist. His novels to that point—including "The Pickwick Papers," "The Adventures of Oliver Twist" and "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby"—had been serialized in cheap periodicals before appearing in book form. "A Christmas Carol" was published for the first time in a handsomely bound volume, an object to be treasured. And it was an immediate hit.
Dickens had already proved his ability to entertain his audiences with comedy ("Pickwick" and "Nickleby") and to tug on their heartstrings with drama ("Oliver Twist" and "The Old Curiosity Shop"). "A Christmas Carol" added a crusading tone, concerning the suffering of the poor and the foolish indifference of the rich, previously most prominent in his journalism. Thus a line runs forward from the "A Christmas Carol" to novels of the 1850s and 1860s such as "Little Dorrit," "Bleak House" and "Our Mutual Friend."
But Mr. Slater makes a convincing case that "A Christmas Carol" marked an even more important phase in Dickens's writing, one in which he began to draw self-consciously on his own biography for his fiction. Dickens's Christmas story "actually turns on memory," Mr. Slater writes, "specifically on the deleterious consequences of blanking out one's past, as he himself had perhaps often fantasized about doing." In particular, Dickens might have wished to blank out his childhood. An early idyll was shattered, around the age of 12, when his father was consigned to debtors prison.
Charles DickensBy Michael Slater
(Yale University Press, 696 pages, $35)
A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas BooksBy Charles Dickens
(Everyman's Library, 411 pages, $18)
An entire book on the "Carol"-era Dickens alone could be created from the material that Mr. Slater includes in this compendious and fascinating biography. He seems to have consulted every scrap—and there were tens of thousands—that Dickens scribbled on in his 58 years, to produce exactly what the book's subtitle promises: "a life defined by writing."
"Charles Dickens" traces the author's career more or less chronologically across 700 pages, often charting his movements from day to day. Mr. Slater begins with an invitation card penned by the young Dickens, age 8 or 9, and goes on to track the young writer's rise from an anonymous producer of parliamentary reports to an up-and-coming man of letters. Down the years, Mr. Slater describes the furious composition of the novels—the writing often running only weeks ahead of serial publication. He also cites Dickens's professional and personal correspondence, the speeches he gave, and the hundreds of articles he wrote for the periodicals he edited. Dickens was known to contemporaries as The Inimitable. Mr. Slater might be called The Indefatigable.
Yet Mr. Slater's dogged scholarship is surprisingly readable, in part because he often lets his subject speak for himself. Thus when the biographical narrative requires a description of a ruined castle in Rochester in southeast England, near one of Dickens's childhood homes, he finds it in the staccato phrasings of Mr. Jingle from "The Pickwick Papers." ("Glorious pile—frowning walls—tottering arches—dark nooks— crumbling staircases—old cathedral too.") When Mr. Slater wishes to describe the Marshalsea debtors prison, he points us to "Little Dorrit." When he comes to Dickens's time in the blacking factory, he cites a maxim from "David Copperfield": "In the little world in which children have their existence . . . there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as an injustice."
Often the reader can follow precisely how Dickens transmuted fact into fiction. He felt a compulsion, for instance, to capture individuals he met as "characters" on the page. Some were people he encountered during his peregrinations through London's streets—for Dickens, his long walks were a kind of reconnaissance. (Miss Havisham's habit in "Great Expectations" of never removing her wedding dress was based on a real figure.) Some he met during his travels. (The provincial original of the dwarfish Miss Mowcher in "David Copperfield" quickly recognized herself—and wrote to complain.) Others he found closer to home.
The hapless Mr. Micawber in "David Copperfield" was a version of his father, while the callow dilettante Harold Skimpole in "Bleak House," Mr. Slater says, was a bitingly accurate portrait of the poet Leigh Hunt. When friends charged Dickens with callousness, he brushed aside the criticism. As Mr. Slater makes clear, Dickens could be massively selfish when he felt he was in the right—which was always.
Yet while Mr. Slater admits his subject's minor faults, he seems hesitant to delve into the possibility of a larger one—the case of Dickens's wife, Catherine. Dickens's actions leading to their separation in 1858 are only sketchily outlined, and then Catherine essentially disappears from the book. "A page in my life which once had writing on it, has become absolutely blank," Dickens later wrote—a rather Scrooge-like sentiment to express toward the mother of their 10 children.
Indeed, little is known about the break-up, and Mr. Slater is scrupulous about not going beyond what the evidence tells him. He is similarly circumspect about the long friendship between Dickens and the actress Ellen Ternan, who was 27 years his junior. Dickens wrote about "Nelly" only to his closest friends, and then only vaguely. Mr. Slater leaves it to others to speculate about what went on.
Given Mr. Slater's insistence on the work, he might have mounted a fresh case for its excellence. Instead, he takes the reader's admiration of the novels for granted and often seems disinclined to sound a skeptical note. George Orwell could praise Dickens's social crusading while complaining that he offered no solutions. Even G.K. Chesterton, who celebrated the humane comedy of Dickens's happy domestic scenes, admitted that the novelist could make "his reader so comfortable that his reader goes to sleep."
More than one critic, rightly or wrongly, has faulted Dickens for an excess of sentimentality and a certain cartoon tendency that reduces otherwise compelling characters to caricature. His satire of those he dislikes may seem too strenuous for today's tastes, his sentimentality about those he admires too obvious. Yet just as often Dickens begins from caricature and builds an individual who seems to walk right off the page. His shrewd grasp of his characters' very core—whether absurd, over-feeling, pathetic, pompous, tender, conniving or greedy—gives his novels the compass of greatness, as if all of social life is contained in them.
If Mr. Slater's insights into the novels themselves are fleeting, he triumphantly achieves his stated goal of placing Dickens's novels in the context "of the truly prodigious amount of other writing that he was constantly producing alongside." Throughout his life, Dickens's public regarded him as more than a mere novelist. By its end, he had become nearly as prominent a figure in England as Victoria herself.
Thus when December rolled around, circa 1860, readers could expect a special "Christmas Number" of the Dickens-edited periodical All the Year Round, as well as a tour by the author giving readings from his most beloved Christmas writings. A new Everyman's Library volume, which brings together "A Christmas Carol" with four other Christmas tales, gives us a hint of what his contemporaries' expectations of him were—and how those expectations differ from our own.
The early Victorian sentiment of "The Battle of Life" and "The Cricket on the Hearth," for instance—tales of near-tragic misunderstandings that threaten loving homes—seems far too heavily sugared. Dickens does homey bliss better than anyone, but cozy visions are best deployed in lively contrast with the evil outside. Happily (so to speak), such juxtapositions do creep into the two other novellas in this volume.
Like "A Christmas Carol," both "The Chimes" and "The Haunted Man" feature at their heart a sort of nightmare. In "The Chimes," a poor man called Trotty is convinced by one of his "betters," a haughty alderman, that the poor are an ungrateful, "vicious" burden on society. Trotty comes to agree that it would be preferable if he did not exist (cue: "It's a Wonderful Life")—but then is shown a wrenching vision of his family after his death, how they strive and fall into squalor. Desperate to save his suicidal daughter, and filled with a newfound love of life, Trotty is suddenly restored to the world and is plunged into a joyous reunion. Rarely have the upper classes in Dickens been made to look more cruel and trifling, or the lower classes more deserving of our sympathy.
"The Haunted Man," by contrast, is a creepy ghost story in the mold of "A Christmas Carol." A spirit appears to a man plagued by past betrayals and agrees to remove the bad memories—but curses him to similarly "blank" the memory of any person he encounters. Even with their memories erased, though, these people soon burn with a nameless rage, still haunted by a cruel past they cannot now recall. It turns out that only forgiveness, and not forgetting, is the cure for the hard feelings of the wronged. Like "A Christmas Carol," the tale captures both the joy and the poignant pain of the Christmas season—a time when the past always seems particularly present.
Dickens expressed the lesson of "The Haunted Man" this way: "To have all the best of it, you must have the worst also." If that's true of memory, it's true of men—and of books. Despite the occasional shortcomings of Dickens, and of Mr. Slater's biography, anyone who receives this work come Christmas can expect to spend the holiday in convivial company.
—Mr. Propson is an editor at The Week.