Sunday, February 8, 2009

《孔乙己 》 英语 翻译

Kong Yiji

By Lu Xun

The layout of the wine taverns in Lu Town is quite different from those in other towns. There is always an L-shaped counter facing the street. Hot water is kept available at the counter so that it can be used to warm the yellow wine at any time. Laborers, back from work at noon or dusk, would spend 4 coppers to get a bowl of yellow wine – that was the price over 20 years ago and a bowl of wine costs 10 coppers now—where they lean over the counter, drink the warm wine and have their “happy hour“. With one more copper, you can get a dish of salted bamboo shoots or anise beans to go with the wine. If you are willing to pay over 10 coppers, you can buy a meat dish,. But most of the customers are the “Short Jackets” who cannot afford such luxuries, whereas, those who wear robes would stride to the back room, order their wine with some dishes and sit there taking their time to eat and drink.

At age 12, I started to work as a busboy at Xianheng wine tavern located at the entrance of the town. The tavern keeper said that I had a dumb looking face and was probably not smart enough to serve the “robed clientele,” and thus should only work in the front room. The “short jackets” in the front room, although usually easy going, were no less troublesome. Some wouldn’t be satisfied until they saw me scoop out the wine from the wine jar with their own eyes, to make sure that there was no water at the bottom of the pitcher. And even watched me put the pitcher in the hot water. Under such tight surveillance, it was impossible to water down the wine. Therefore, after a few days, the tavern keeper said I couldn’t even do that. Fortunately, due to the influence of my patron, the tavern keeper didn’t dismiss me but he assigned me to the insignificant task of just heating wine.

Since then, I spend all day at the counter, doing my specialized job where I couldn’t make any blunders. The thing that bothered me most was that the job was so monotonous and boring. The tavern keeper always glared at me with a fierce face, and the customers were not friendly either. Therefore, I couldn’t slack off even a little bit, except for a few laughs that Kong Yiji brought to us every time he came to the wine tavern. That’s why I can still remember him.

Kong Yiji was the only one who stood drinking while wearing a robe. He was big and tall, yet he had a wan face, often with bruises showing in his wrinkles, and had a bedraggled grizzly beard. Although he wore a robe, the robe, which was well worn out, seemed not to have been mended nor washed for a decade. He used many obscure words and archaic phrases when he spoke that his speech was unintelligible. Because of his surname Kong, someone picked a nonsensical phrase “Shang Da Ren Kong Yi Ji” from the children’s practice book and used this as a nickname for him, “Kong Yiji.”. Each time, the moment he stepped into the tavern, all the customers would look at him and start laughing. Someone would yell: “Kong Yiji, you got a new scar on your face!” He never answered them, he only spoke to the waiter behind the counter: ‘Two bowls of wine heated and a dish of anise beans.’ He then spread out 9 coppers. The customers then intentionally raised their voices: ”You must have stolen something again.” Kong Yiji with his eyes wide open: ”How can you accuse me, an innocent person without any basis?……” “What kind of innocent person? …I saw with my own eyes that you stole the books from the Hes’ and you were hung up and beaten.” Kong Yiji’s face turned red and the veins on his forehead protruded, while defending himself, said: “Stealing books is not a theft, stealing books…is an intellectuals’ business, it’s not a theft! ” Following that he blurted out those archaic phrases, such as “a nobleman sticks to his principles despite poverty” so on and so forth. The crowd would burst into laughter; and the wine tavern once again became lively and rowdy.

I learned from gossips that Kong Yiji used to go to school, but he didn’t pass any of his academic tests in his studies; nor did he learn any practical skills for earning a living. He got increasingly poorer day by day and was close to becoming a beggar. Fortunately, due to his good calligraphy, he was just able to get by, making copies of books for others. Despite this ability, he had another deficiency in his character – he was very lazy. He wouldn’t sit there working for more than a few consecutive days, and always ended up disappearing with the paper, the writing brush and the ink-slab. After a few of such instances, no one would ask him to be a copyist any more. Kong Yiji couldn't come up with any other ideas, and resorted to stealing and pilfering things on occasion. But at our tavern, he was more credit worthy than others. He never welched on his promise to pay. Even when he was really tight in money, he would write down the debt on the chalk board and always cleared the debt within a month and was able to erase his name from the chalk board.

After half a bowl of wine, the flush on his face faded. Someone sitting by him asked ” Kong Yiji, can you really read?” Kong Yiji stared at the guy who asked him, with a look of disdain. The guy carried on ”How come you are not even the lowest scholar?” Kong Yiji looked affronted, his face turning dark, and babbled all the obscure and archaic phrases that no one could understand. At this moment, the people all broke into hilarity and the tavern was permeated with a festive air.

At these instances, I laughed along with the people, and those were the moments the tavern keeper never scolded me for laughing. The tavern keeper had also asked such questions to him many times, just to tease him. Kong Yiji knew that he couldn’t have a regular conversation with them, so he turned to the youngsters. Once, he asked me: “Have you ever gone to school?” I nodded. He then said “You have gone to school, so let me test your knowledge. Do you know how to write the character Hui as the anise in the anise beans?” I thought, a bum like him, in what role is he testing me? I turned my back, ignoring him. Kong Yiji waited for a while, then said earnestly: “You can’t, can you? Let me teach you how. Remember it. It will be useful when you become a tavern keeper. You’ll have to do the books.” I thought to myself that I was a long way from becoming a tavern keeper, and our tavern keeper never wrote down anise beans on the books. He was being ridiculous and annoying, so I answered cooly: ”Who needs you to teach? Isn’t that a Hui as in the back and forth under the grass radical?” Kong Yiji seemed excited, tapping the counter with two long nailed fingers, nodding: “Correct, there are four different ways to write the character, do you know all of them?” I became annoyed, scowled and walked away. Kong Yiji was about to write something on the counter with the nail that had been dipped in the wine. Seeing me uncaring, he sighed, looking as if he had been defeated.

There were times when the kids of the neighborhood came over after hearing the laughter from the tavern. They circled Kong Yiji. Kong would give out anise beans to them, one for each. The kids ate the beans, but stayed there, staring at the dish. Kong Yiji felt flustered. He covered the dish with his palm, bending down: ”Not many left, I don’t have many for myself.” He straightened up, took a look at the beans, shaking his head saying pedantically in his old fashion way ”Not many left, are there? There are not.” The kids would scatter with loud laughter. Kong Yiji was always so funny, but without him, the days still went on as usual.

One day, it was two or three days before the mid-autumn festival, when the tavern keeper was pouring over the accounting, he put down the chalk board, saying all of a sudden: ”It has been a while since Kong Yiji was here last time. He still owes me 19 coppers.” At that moment I realized that it indeed had been a while. A drinker said: ”How can he come, his legs were broken during his beating.” The tavern keeper said “Ah.” “He kept stealing. This time, he must have been crazy. He stole from the house of Official Ding. How does one dare to steal from him?” “And then what.” “Then what? First, he had to write a confession, and then was beaten till midnight. His legs were broken.” “And then?” “Then his legs were broken” “After his legs were broken?” ”Then what? ... Who knows, he is probably dead.” The tavern keeper stopped asking, and went back to his accounting.

After the mid-autumn festival, it was getting colder every day. Winter was about to begin. Though I was by the fire all day long, I had to wear a cotton-padded jacket. It was in the early afternoon, there was not a single customer. I had my eyes closed while sitting there. Out of the blue there was a voice: “Warm a bowl of wine”. The voice was low, yet familiar. I didn’t see anybody so I got to my feet and looked out. It was Kong Yiji facing the threshold, sitting by the counter. His face was dark and taut, like a skeleton. Wearing a worn out jacket, he sat crossed legs on a reed mat which had a rope over his shoulder. He saw me and said: “Warm a bowl of wine.” The tavern keeper also stuck out his head, saying: ”Kong Yiji, you still owe me 19 coppers.” Kong Yiji owing up, replied with embarrassment, “Oh,that, I promise to pay you back next time. This time I have cash. Give me the good wine.” The tavern keeper was as usual, mocking him: ”Kong Yiji, you stole again.” This time he didn’t try to defend himself and answered simply “Don’t shame me.” “Shame you? If you didn’t steal, why were your legs beaten until broken?” Kong Yiji said in a low voice:” I fell down… I fell...” His eyes seemed to plead to the tavern keeper not to mention it. By then, there were already a few people around, they laughed along with the tavern keeper. I heated the wine, brought it out and placed on the threshold. He took out 4 coppers from the very worn out jacket, and put them in my hand. I saw his hands were muddy, thinking he must have walked here on his hands. Before long, he drank up the wine, walked out with his hands and disappearing while the people were still laughing.

Since then, I hadn’t see Kong Yiji for a long time. Around the end of the year, the tavern keeper took down the chalk board, and said ”Kong Yiji still owes me 19 coppers!” During the Dragon Boat Festival the following year, he said again, “Kong Yiji still owes me 19 coppers!” But he didn’t say it at the mid-autumn festival, and Kong Yiji hadn’t shown up at the end of the year either.

I haven’t seen him since — Kong Yiji is probably dead indeed.

March, 1919.



鲁镇的酒店的格局,是和别处不同的:都是当街一个曲尺形的大柜台,柜里面预备着热水,可以随时温酒。做工的人,傍午傍晚散了工,每每花四文铜钱,买一碗 酒,——这是二十多年前的事,现在每碗要涨到十文,——靠柜外站着,热热的喝了休息;倘肯多花一文,便可以买一碟盐煮笋,或者茴香豆,做下酒物了,如果出 到十几文,那就能买一样荤菜,但这些顾客,多是短衣帮,大抵没有这样阔绰。只有穿长衫的,才踱进店面隔壁的房子里,要酒要菜,慢慢地坐喝。
  我从十二岁起,便在镇口的咸亨酒店里当伙计,掌柜说,样子太傻,怕侍候不了长衫主顾,就在外面做点事罢。外面的短衣主顾,虽然容易说话,但 唠唠叨叨缠夹不清的也很不少。他们往往要亲眼看着黄酒从坛子里舀出,看过壶子底里有水没有,又亲看将壶子放在热水里,然后放心:在这严重兼督下,羼水也很 为难。所以过了几天,掌柜又说我干不了这事。幸亏荐头的情面大,辞退不得,便改为专管温酒的一种无聊职务了。
  孔乙己是站着喝酒而穿长衫的唯一的人。他身材很高大;青白脸色,皱纹间时常夹些伤痕;一部乱蓬蓬的花白的胡子。穿的虽然是长衫,可是又脏又 破,似乎十多年没有补,也没有洗。他对人说话,总是满口之乎者也,教人半懂不懂的。因为他姓孔,别人便从描红纸⑵上的“上大人孔乙己”这半懂不懂的话里, 替他取下一个绰号,叫作孔乙己。孔乙己一到店,所有喝酒的人便都看着他笑,有的叫道,“孔乙己,你脸上又添上新伤疤了!”他不回答,对柜里说,“温两碗 酒,要一碟茴香豆。”便排出九文大钱。他们又故意的高声嚷道,“你一定又偷了人家的东西了!”孔乙己睁大眼睛说,“你怎么这样凭空污人清白……”“什么清 白?我前天亲眼见你偷了何家的书,吊着打。”孔乙己便涨红了脸,额上的青筋条条绽出,争辩道,“窃书不能算偷……窃书!……读书人的事,能算偷么?”接连 便是难懂的话,什么“君子固穷”⑶,什么“者乎”之类,引得众人都哄笑起来:店内外充满了快活的空气。
  听人家背地里谈论,孔乙己原来也读过书,但终于没有进学⑷,又不会营生;于是愈过愈穷,弄到将要讨饭了。幸而写得一笔好字,便替人家钞钞 书,换一碗饭吃。可惜他又有一样坏脾气,便是好吃懒做。坐不到几天,便连人和书籍纸张笔砚,一齐失踪。如是几次,叫他钞书的人也没有了。孔乙己没有法,便 免不了偶然做些偷窃的事。但他在我们店里,品行却比别人都好,就是从不拖欠;虽然间或没有现钱,暂时记在粉板上,但不出一月,定然还清,从粉板上拭去了孔 乙己的名字。
  孔乙己喝过半碗酒,涨红的脸色渐渐复了原,旁人便又问道,“孔乙己,你当真认识字么?”孔乙己看着问他的人,显出不屑置辩的神气。他们便接 着说道,“你怎的连半个秀才也捞不到呢?”孔乙己立刻显出颓唐不安模样,脸上笼上了一层灰色,嘴里说些话;这回可是全是之乎者也之类,一些不懂了。在这时 候,众人也都哄笑起来:店内外充满了快活的空气。
  在这些时候,我可以附和着笑,掌柜是决不责备的。而且掌柜见了孔乙己,也每每这样问他,引人发笑。孔乙己自己知道不能和他们谈天,便只好向 孩子说话。有一回对我说道,“你读过书么?”我略略点一点头。他说,“读过书,……我便考你一考。茴香豆的茴字,怎样写的?”我想,讨饭一样的人,也配考 我么?便回过脸去,不再理会。孔乙己等了许久,很恳切的说道,“不能写罢?……我教给你,记着!这些字应该记着。将来做掌柜的时候,写账要用。”我暗想我 和掌柜的等级还很远呢,而且我们掌柜也从不将茴香豆上账;又好笑,又不耐烦,懒懒的答他道,“谁要你教,不是草头底下一个来回的回字么?”孔乙己显出极高 兴的样子,将两个指头的长指甲敲着柜台,点头说,“对呀对呀!……回字有四样写法⑸,你知道么?”我愈不耐烦了,努着嘴走远。孔乙己刚用指甲蘸了酒,想在 柜上写字,见我毫不热心,便又叹一口气,显出极惋惜的样子。
  有几回,邻居孩子听得笑声,也赶热闹,围住了孔乙己。他便给他们吃茴香豆,一人一颗。孩子吃完豆,仍然不散,眼睛都望着碟子。孔乙己着了 慌,伸开五指将碟子罩住,弯腰下去说道,“不多了,我已经不多了。”直起身又看一看豆,自己摇头说,“不多不多!多乎哉?不多也。”⑹于是这一群孩子都在 笑声里走散了。
  有一天,大约是中秋前的两三天,掌柜正在慢慢的结账,取下粉板,忽然说,“孔乙己长久没有来了。还欠十九个钱呢!”我才也觉得他的确长久没有 来了。一个喝酒的人说道,“他怎么会来?……他打折了腿了。”掌柜说,“哦!”“他总仍旧是偷。这一回,是自己发昏,竟偷到丁举人家里去了。他家的东西, 偷得的么?”“后来怎么样?”“怎么样?先写服辩⑺,后来是打,打了大半夜,再打折了腿。”“后来呢?”“后来打折了腿了。”“打折了怎样呢?”“怎 样?……谁晓得?许是死了。”掌柜也不再问,仍然慢慢的算他的账。
  中秋之后,秋风是一天凉比一天,看看将近初冬;我整天的靠着火,也须穿上棉袄了。一天的下半天,没有一个顾客,我正合了眼坐着。忽然间听得 一个声音,“温一碗酒。”这声音虽然极低,却很耳熟。看时又全没有人。站起来向外一望,那孔乙己便在柜台下对了门槛坐着。他脸上黑而且瘦,已经不成样子; 穿一件破夹袄,盘着两腿,下面垫一个蒲包,用草绳在肩上挂住;见了我,又说道,“温一碗酒。”掌柜也伸出头去,一面说,“孔乙己么?你还欠十九个钱呢!” 孔乙己很颓唐的仰面答道,“这……下回还清罢。这一回是现钱,酒要好。”掌柜仍然同平常一样,笑着对他说,“孔乙己,你又偷了东西了!”但他这回却不十分 分辩,单说了一句“不要取笑!”“取笑?要是不偷,怎么会打断腿?”孔乙己低声说道,“跌断,跌,跌……”他的眼色,很像恳求掌柜,不要再提。此时已经聚 集了几个人,便和掌柜都笑了。我温了酒,端出去,放在门槛上。他从破衣袋里摸出四文大钱,放在我手里,见他满手是泥,原来他便用这手走来的。不一会,他喝 完酒,便又在旁人的说笑声中,坐着用这手慢慢走去了。



  1. This is a really neat idea for a blog. I'm working on a translation of Kong Yiji, and I've found your translation to be quite helpful, especially in terms of explaining Kong Yiji's classical-Chinese-filled speech. Thanks!