2010年9月10日星期五

The Great Fitzgerald

“爵士时代的挽歌”之类的说法,对The Great Gatsby是个蹩脚的评价。且不说这部小说出版时,距大萧条还有四年多的时间,这个故事的背景,也完全可以放在1900年代、50年代、80、90年代,以及刚刚过去这个十年的中期。唯一可以勉强与爵士时代挂上钩的,或许只有Fitzgerald华丽而精准的文字,尽管这对母语非英语的普通读者来说构成了不小的阅读障碍。很难想象现今这个流行像电影Funny Games这样装作漫不经心,甚至略带喜剧感地讲述残忍故事,产品设计唯简约是从的冷峻时代,The Great Gatsby这类用词考究工整的小说会像当年那样大卖。

其实Gatsby从一开始就清楚Daisy是什么样的人。所以他才会在刚认识Daisy时

...let her believe that he was a person from much the same stratum as herself...

而两人多年后重逢的那个下午,即使在围观极具喜剧和狂热色彩的欢笑泪水时,Nick也发觉了Gatsby幻梦的裂痕:

There must have been moments even that afternoon whe Daisy tumbled short of his dreams—not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.

这一段不禁让人悲从中来。每个心灵尚未粗糙硬化的少年都曾怀有这样的幻梦。这几乎是年轻时不可避免的一场疯病。但Gatsby的梦寄托错了对象,又在想象中再造了对方。相较之下,真相实在有些丑陋。Nick在最后偶遇Tom时也悟透了:

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made... I felt suddenly as though I were talking to a child.

Daisy只是careless,只是爱钱,爱虚荣,爱漂亮衣服,和我们这个时代看到驴牌包包就走不动路的平庸女人没有区别。Tom也是,就像电影The Italian Job里的Edward Norton,被人骂搞了那么多钱,就知道买个大房子,在里面看那台大屁股电视。Daisy和Tom物以类聚,所以才始终没有分开。严格说来,Daisy在车祸之外是无辜的。作为一个普普通通的女人,被Gatsby神化不是她的过错。那些做梦的少年人,后来要么被现实踢醒,把梦收起来藏好,不轻易示人;要么干脆把它丢掉,像猪似的跌进泥淖打滚而自得其乐。但Gatsby却西西弗斯一般地执意追梦,即便如Nick一再见证的,他已明知Daisy是个多么庸俗的女人:

“She’s got an indiscreet voice,” I remarked. “It’s full of——” I hesitated.

“Her voice is full of money,” he said suddenly.

That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money—that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it... high in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl...

Fitzgerald最后一部长篇,中文译名《夜色温柔》,原题Tender is the night,根据维基百科,出自济兹的一首诗。六十余年后,这句诗成为Blur的13整张专辑中的第一句歌词。听这首悠长缱绻的Tender,尤其是那句Tender is the touch, of someone that you love too much, 应该可以想象出Gatsby心中温柔的爱恋,也能多少有些理解他为何一直知晓真相,却还如此。于是,怀着这种爱恋,他终于飞蛾扑火。

那么到底为何?部分是因为他的穷苦出身造就的心态。有钱人家的孩子其实也可以不那么careless,可以正直、阳光、自信、负责,顺风顺水地在人生大道上飞奔。可在阴暗污秽而又卑贱的环境中成长起来的穷孩子们心里小小的,但又强烈敏感的自卑、自尊、自负,前者恐怕永远无法体会。关于二者的不同,Fitzgerald在另一个短篇The Rich Boy里干脆直抒胸臆:

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand.

我们不妨再继续引用一些,虽然接下来的未必不是Fitzgerald自己的偏见:

They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.

因为匮乏,穷孩子们倾向于珍视第一次偶然遇见的美好事物,甚至将其作为毕生的梦想、生活的中心,哪怕富人们根本不在乎或早已厌倦。既然是终身大梦,而灵魂又别无支柱,他们也就可能像Gatsby这样,在明显褪色的真相面前欺骗自己,拼命守护那盏唯一的小绿灯,直到自己彻底被击碎。

似乎没有多少人注意到,The Great Gatsby著名的结尾并非简单强调对梦不顾一切的追逐——真是那样,就太烂俗了。Fitzgerald稍前一点提示说,Gatsby的梦其实已经在他身后。毕竟,这个梦是在他少年时所种下,是他从没能甩开的青春。因为梦想不在前方,所以结尾这句话里,一切都是反的,我们是逆水行舟,方向是朝后,驶往过去:

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

但我们读者不必回到过去。我们可以隔着八十多年的时光,和Nick一起向Gatsby致敬,向进入上层圈子后郁郁不得志,但能将此化为经典作品的小说作者、穷孩子、梦想家,了不起的Fitzgerald,致敬。

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