80年前的那個大時代,他曾是英語最好的華人,就是他把「humor」翻作「幽默」。

他就是林語堂,人稱 「幽默大師」,然而他是不是真的很幽默,很難講。

喜歡林語堂的人,贊其中英文都爐火純青,是文之至美。

不喜歡他的人,如郭沫若,說他既無自知之明,又無知人之雅,東方既未通,西方也不懂,只靠懂得一點洋涇浜的外國文,撿拾一些皮毛來,在這裡東騙騙、西騙騙。

林語堂的文章究竟如何,親愛的你,不妨和我們讀讀《生活的藝術》(The Importance of Living)。

1937年,林語堂用英文出版了以西方中產階級為讀者的《生活的藝術》,講述中國人如何觀山、弄月、聽雨、看雲等,被譽為中國現代休閒文學的代表作。

80年過去了,書裡有些觀點,獨立自主的新時代女青年一定不同意,比方說:

Is it not true that marriage is the best profession for women?

婚姻是最適於女性的職業。

拋開一些不合時宜,大部分地方,依然有點意思。

林語堂談吃

One of the most important consequences of our being animals is that we have got this bottomless pit called the stomach. This fact has colored our entire civilization.

凡是動物便有這麼一個叫做肚子的無底洞。這無底洞曾影響了我們整個文明。

 

 

Confucius reduced the great desires of human beings to two: alimentation and reproduction, or in simpler terms, food and drink and women.

他(孔子)把人生的大欲簡括於營養和生育二事之下,簡單說來,就是飲食男女。

林語堂認為,妻子會做飯,非常重要,知道孔子為什麼把老婆休了嗎?因為他老婆燒菜不好吃。

1929年,據說為了鼓勵兒童多吃菠菜的大力水手波派問世。林語堂一定看過,他在成書於1937年的《生活的藝術》中寫道:

Spinach, the calamity of all children, is never cooked properly; it is cooked until it becomes mushy, whereas if it is fried on a very hot pan with oil and salt and taken away before it loses its crispness, it is one of the most palatable of foods.

菠菜從不好好地烹煮,以致兒童見了就討厭。因為他們總把菠菜燒成稀爛一團,而不知用油鹽在極熱的鍋中煎炒,在未爛之前起鍋才是最可口的吃法。

 

Instead of giving patients aspirin tablets, Chinese doctors would therefore ask them to take large bowls of medicinal tea to produce perspiration.

中國醫生對於病人並不給予阿司匹林片,而給他喝一大碗藥茶以取汗。

And instead of taking quinine tablets, the patients of the future world might conceivably be required to drink a bowl of rich turtle soup with mushrooms, cooked with pieces of cinchona bark.

所以將來的病人,或許不必再吃金雞納片,而只需喝一碗加些金雞納樹皮的冬菇甲魚湯。

 

It makes our pharmacopoeias resemble our cook books and our cook books resemble a pharmacopoeia, and it makes the rise of botany and zoology as branches of the natural science impossible,for the Chinese scientists are thinking all the time of how a snake, a monkey, or a crocodile’s flesh or a camel’s hump would taste. True scientific curiosity in China is a gastronomic curiosity.

我們身體中都有饕餮的精神,這使我們的藥方書類似我們的烹飪書,使我們的烹飪書類似藥方書,並使植物學和動物學發展為自然科學的一支成為不可能。因為中國的科學家看見一條蛇,一只猢猻,一條鱷魚或一個駝峰時,他始終只是想去嘗嘗它們滋味。真正的科學好奇心,在中國不過是一種烹飪藝術的好奇心而已。

林語堂談快樂

 

This present earth is the only heaven.

塵世是唯一的天堂。

 

The Chinese idea of happiness is, as I have noted elsewhere, being 「warm, well-filled, dark and sweet」, referring to the condition of going to bed after a good supper.

我曾在別處說過,中國人對於快樂的觀念是「溫、飽、黑、甜」,——指吃完了一頓美餐上床去睡覺的情景。

明末清初的文學批評家金聖嘆,和朋友在10天的陰雨連綿中,住在一個廟裡,寫下了他覺得最快樂的33個瞬間。林語堂很推崇金聖嘆,在《生活的藝術》中一一列舉了 33 個 「不亦快哉」,摘錄一二。

To cut with a sharp knife a bright green watermelon on a big scarlet plate of a summer afternoon. Ah, is this not happiness?

夏日於朱紅盤中,自拔快刀,切綠沉西瓜。不亦快哉!

A magistrate orders the beating of the drum and calls it a day. Ah, is this not happiness?

作縣官,每日打退堂鼓時,不亦快哉!

 

To see someone’s kite line broken. Ah, is this not happiness?

看人風箏斷,不亦快哉!

林語堂談西方文化

Of all the ridiculous Western customs, I think that of shaking hands is one of the worst. I may be very progressive and able to appreciate Western art, literature, American silk stockings, Parisian perfumes and even British battleships,

我以為一切可笑的西方習俗當中,以握手為最。我雖然是一個極前進的人,也能領略西方的藝術文學、美國絲襪、巴黎香水,甚至英國戰艦的好處,

but I cannot see how the progressive Europeans could allow this barbarous custom of shaking hands to persist to the present…I object to this custom for hygienic and many other reasons.

但我終不能懂極前進的歐洲人何以竟會聽任這個握手的野蠻習俗存留到今日……我為了衛生和許多別的理由,反對這個習俗。

Many of my best friends have asked me why I wear Chinese instead of foreign dress. And those people call themselves my friends! They might just as well ask me why I stand on two legs.

常有許多好友問我為什麼不穿西裝?他們問我這句話,尚能算是我的知己嗎?這等於問我為什麼用兩足直立……

The Chinese dress is worn by all Chinese gentlemen. Furthermore, all the scholars, thinkers, bankers and people who made good in China either have never worn foreign dress, or have swiftly come back to their native dress the moment they have “arrived” politically, financially or socially…

中國的紳士都穿中國衣服。此外如功成名就的中國高士、思想家、銀行家,有許多從來沒有穿過西裝,有許多則於政治、金融或社會上獲得成就,立刻改穿中裝……

Who are the people wearing foreign clothes today in China ? The college students, the clerks earning a hundred a month…

你可知道中國現在穿西裝者是怎樣一些人嗎?大學生、賺百元一月薪俸的小職員…..

And then, of course, last but not least, we have Henry Puyi, who has the incomparably bad taste to adopt a foreign name, foreign dress, and a pair of dark spectacles. That outfit of his alone will kill all his chances of coming back to the Dragon Throne…

最後,當然還有那亨利溥儀(溥儀給自己取了個英文名,Henry),極俗無比的題上一個外國名字,穿上一身西裝,還要加上一副黑眼鏡。單是這身裝束,已足使他喪失一切復登大室的機會……

不管林語堂怎麼評價西裝,反正他結婚儀式上穿的是西裝。

 

It requires no imagination to see that for adjustment to varying climatic conditions, the Chinese dress is also the only logical mode.

在適合時令的調節上,中國衣服也是顯而易見的最近情理。

While the Westerner is compelled to wear underwear, one shirt, perhaps one vest and one coat, whether the weather temperature is below zero or above a hundred, the Chinese dress is infinitely flexible.…

穿西裝不論寒暑表低到零攝氏度以下,或高到一百攝氏度以上,總是限於一身內衣褲,一件襯衫,一件外衣,連或不連馬甲。但中國衣服則可以加減隨心……

I am led to believe that the only thing – which saves the Chinese nation from extermination by tuberculosis and pneumonia is the cotton-padded gown.

我不能不信中國民族所以能夠不被肺癆和肺炎所滅盡,全靠那一件棉袍的力量。

民國大記者曹聚仁,曾奉勸廣大讀者,對林語堂吃夠了麵包,抽夠了雪茄以後所發的癡語姑妄聽之,不可信以為真,除非你在美國銀行裡存夠了美金,也跟他到美國去。

但我想,即使我們沒有錢,依然可以有顆閒適的心,城頭看雪,燈前看月,舟中看霞,月下看美人,依然可以在平淡生活中,發現很多樂趣。

就像林語堂所說,自己沒有讀過洛克(John Locke,17世紀英國哲學家),也沒有讀過休謨(David Hume, 18世紀蘇格蘭哲學家),直接拿人生當做課本,理論根據大都是從下面這些人物來的:

老媽子黃媽……一個隨口罵人的蘇州船娘;

一個上海的電車售票員;

廚子的妻子;

動物園中一隻小獅子;

紐約中央公園裡的一隻松鼠;

一個發過一句妙論的輪船上管事……

以及任何一個不毀滅我們人生好奇意識的作家,

或任何一個不毀滅他自己人生好奇意識的作家。

本文參考自《生活的藝術》(越裔漢譯,陜西師範大學出版社2003版)、《值得商榷的「人生指南」——評林語堂著<生活的藝術>》、《林語堂與東西方文化》、《林語堂的中國文化觀》等。

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