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Fred0

Eileen Chang's essay "Writing of one's Own"

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Jim
6 hours ago, Fred0 said:

倘要提高作者的自觉,则从作品中汲取理论,而以之为作品的再生产的衡量,自然是有益处的。

The sentence seems to progress fairly straight forwardly as I parse it:

倘要提高作者的自觉,Should we aspire to improve an author's self-awareness

则从作品中汲取理论,then we ought to derive theory from their [extant] work

而以之为作品的再生产的衡量,then take 以 that 之 and use it 为 as a measuring stick in further writing

自然是有益处的。this would of course be a profitable endeavour.

 

I might have got the wrong end of the stick as to the meaning of 作品的再生产 = the reproduction of literary work but I'm assuming Chang isn't using reproduction in some more abstract post-modern sense, which I could well be wrong about. Confident on how 而以之为 is working there though.

The gist is that it would be beneficial for an author to derive theoretical pointers from their past work to serve as reference material in their future writing, I think. It makes them more fully aware of what they are doing 提高作者的自觉

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Fred0

So much simpler, and clearer, than I was trying to make it. Thank you.

 

And please stay safe.

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Luxi
2 hours ago, roddy said:

Seriously, congratulations

Same here. 

 

19 hours ago, Fred0 said:

倘要提高作者的自觉,则从作品中汲取理论,而以之为作品的再生产的衡量,自然是有益处的。

 

I really like this construction, such an elegant way to describe a sequence.

 

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Fred0

这时代,旧的东西在崩塌,新的在滋长中。但在时代的高潮来到之前,斩钉截铁的事物不过是例外。人们只是感觉日常的一切都有点儿不对,不对到恐怖的程度。人是生活于一个时代里的,可是这时代却在影子似地沉没下去,人觉得自己是被抛弃了。为要证实自己的存在,抓住一点真实的,最基本的东西,不能不求助于古老的记忆,人类在一切时代之中生活过的记忆,这比掺望将来要更明晰,亲切。

In this epoch the old is crumbling and the new is just taking shape. But, until the new epoch has come fully into being, feeling resolved and definite about anything is the exception. Day to day we feel that everything is a little bit wrong, wrong to a frightening degree. Man's life happens within some epoch, but the modern world seems to sink away from us into the shadows, and we feel abandoned. To verify that we exist we look for something real and true to hold onto. The memory of the life that men have lived over the ages, compared to our hope for the future, is more definite and closely related to us who are living now.

于是他对于周围的现实发生了一种奇异的感觉,疑心这是个荒唐的,古代的世界,阴暗而明亮的。

As a result regarding our actual surroundings we are left with a strange feeling. We suspect that this is an absurdity, the ancient world, its darkeness and its brightness.

Does this mean compared to the ancient world, this one is dark and that one is light? She continues:

回忆与现实之间时时发现尴尬的不和谐,因而产生了郑重而轻微的骚动,认真而未有名目的斗争。

Between our memory and actuality we often discover an embarrassing disharmony, therefore serious and trivial disturbances arise, earnest and nameless struggles.

nameless struggles.

 

Please point out any other errors in my understanding of the text. 

 

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Jim

Here's my several cents:

 

I wouldn't add 'feeling' to 斩钉截铁的事物不过是例外, seems to be a plain statement that fixed and definite things are the exception.

Not vastly different from your version, but to me 日常的一切 is "everything everyday" - all the normal, quotidian aspects of life, and it's these people feel to be somehow wrong.

In 这时代却在影子似地沉没下去, the grammar has the epoch falling away from us like a shadow (rather than into the shadows) though don't find the meaning of that image very clear.

This seems missing from your version: 不能不求助于古老的记忆  "can only turn for help to ancient memories...", then what follows is more "memories from all the epochs that mankind has lived through."

Your highlighted line seems to be saying feelings of uncanniness lead mankind to suspect this is an absurdist version of the world of antiquity [to precis a bit freely], both dark and light [suggesting containing extremes, I think].

Lastly, maybe an 'awkward disharmony' would be better; seems to end saying that "gives rise to an unease at once solemn and frivolous, to struggles that are in deadly earnest yet have no name."

 

Overall I think you did very well. The Chinese is thought provoking and profound but written in fairly plain and clear language, I always find it a challenge not to make it sound pompous or pretentious in English when it isn't in the original.

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Fred0

This is such a great help. I really appreciate your taking the time to work on this for me with such care and attention. It's getting the subtleties right that makes all the difference. Thank you.

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Jim

Thanks for bringing such interesting texts and questions. I'm looking at that sinking and shadows line now and wondering if it could be better interpreted as sinking into shadow. The 在 ought to have a temporal function in that position was my original take, but overall sinking into shadow does seem the more likely.

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Fred0

I had the same thought, that 在 refers to place, but I deferred to your superior knowledge and experience. I'm glad that you also can see it that way.

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Tomsima
On 2/27/2020 at 9:54 PM, Fred0 said:

可是这时代却在影子似地沉没下去

 沒 always makes me feel like its about sinking into obscurity, I remember it is used in 書譜 in this way to talk about how the era of zhang zhi and zhong yao was overshadowed by wang xizhi and wang xianzhi ("可謂鐘張云沒,而羲献繼之" - here 云 is for rhythm only, and 繼 is something like 'takes over from'). Could it be that the metaphor is of one era overshadowing another? In which case the 在影子似地 could be both abstract and temporal, '(sinking away) as if in the shadow (of another era)'

 

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Fred0
Zhang here is describing a humourous skit that she saw at a BengBengXi performance. This was a preview to the main performance.
 
正戏之前还有一出谋杀亲夫的玩笑戏,荡妇阔大的脸上塌着极大的两片胭脂,连鼻翅都搽红了,只留下极窄的一条粉白的鼻子,这样装出来的希腊风格的高而细的鼻梁与她宽阔的脸很不相称,水汪汪的眼睛仿佛生在脸的两边,近耳朵,像一头兽。她嘴里有金牙齿,脑后油腻的两绺青丝一直垂到腿弯,妃红衫袖里露出一截子黄黑,滚圆的肥手臂。她丈夫的冤魂去告状,轿子里的官员得到报告说:“有旋风拦道。”官问:“是男旋女旋?”捕快仔细观察一下,答是“男旋”。官便吩咐他去“追赶旋风,不得有误”。追到一座新坟上,上坟的小寡妇便被拘捕。她跪着解释她丈夫有一天晚上怎样得病死的,百般譬喻,官仍旧不明白。她唱道:“大人哪!谁家的灶门里不生火?哪一个烟囱里不冒烟?”观众喝彩了。
 
 I don't understand the punch-line at the end. Is the widow saying,  Would a stove that has not had a fire lit in it, send smoke up the chimney? Does she mean that it is the woman who is "having her fire lit" (by him), i.e. the fluzzy his ghost was tormenting on the road, would be the one whose chimney is smoking, i.e. the one who would be angry at him and murder him?

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Jim

She's asking rhetorical questions. 

 

“大人哪!谁家的灶门里不生火?哪一个烟囱里不冒烟?”

"Please, your honour! Does not fire burn in everyone's stove? Does not smoke belch from every chimney pipe?"

 

Can't be sure but I think the implication is that stuff can happen to anyone, such as her husband getting sick and dying (although the point is in fact that she's murdered him, hence his ghost wandering).

 

ETA So I think it's getting a rousing cheer from the audience because under questioning for murder by the judge of Hell her attempt to wriggle out is essentially a claim that "well, y'know, shit happens" 

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Fred0

So, you're saying that the 荡妇 who is described at the beginning is the widow at the grave at the end? In that case I misread the whole story. I thought the 荡妇 (fluzzy, slut, prostitute) was being tormented by the husband's ghost because she is the murderer, and the policeman chases the ghost back to its grave where he discovers the widow and believes incorrectly that she is the murderer.

 

So now it all becomes clear,  and I can see that your reading is correct. She is just trying to talk herself out of a bad situation. 

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