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22 July 2009 @ 04:14 am
[中文] • Reading  
Another entry copied over from my personal journal.

I started reading 《留情》 (roughly translated as "Lingering Emotions", I think, but I could be butchering it) by 張愛玲 today (link here). I'm about a quarter of the way through it, and it's a somewhat challenging read, but still rewarding. It's been much easier to read it online, as I have the Firefox Chinese Pera-kun extension, which lets me hover over words I don't know and look them up instantly.

Anyway, apparently, according to Wikipedia, 張愛玲 (Eileen Chang) is a really well-known author whose works are hailed as classics for their time and remarkable for focusing on everyday life during the 1940s. You might of heard of her if you've heard of Lust, Caution; she's the author of that novella, which maybe I'll be able to read at some point.

From what I gather from 《留情》, it's a story about a man who's reminiscing about his past while going through the city with his current wife. I'm not entirely clear on all the details, but I gather that he had some sort of trouble with his previous wife or something? I dunno; I'm having about the same level of comprehension as I did when I was trudging through readings for AP Spanish Lit.

I really like Chang's style, though—whereas Zita Law's style is just very simplistic and, at times, almost repetitive, Chang's style is descriptive in a way that is both beautiful and yet not too flowery or difficult to read. A couple of quotes, and, oh God, should I even attempt translation:

他們家十一月里就生了火。小小的一個火盆,雪白的灰里窩著紅炭。炭起初是樹木,后來死了,現在,身子里通過紅隱隱的火,又活過來,然而,活著,就快成灰了。它第一個生命是青綠色的,第二個是暗紅的。火盆有炭气,丟了一只紅棗到里面,紅棗燃燒起來,發出腊八粥的甜香。炭的輕微的爆炸,淅瀝淅瀝,如同冰屑。

In November, a fire was born in their home. A small fireplace; snow-white ashes nested red charcoal. The charcoal began as trees that then died; now, a dim fire passed through its body, reviving it, but, as soon as it came to life, it quickly became ashes again. In its first life, it was a new, green color; in its second, a gloomy red. The fireplace had a charcoal air to it; tossing a red jujube into it, the jujube roasted, wafting out a sweet smell like laba porridge. The charcoal gently sparked, pitter-patter pitter-patter, like the sound of hail.

OH MY GOD, that was such a rough translation that doesn't even begin to capture the way the Chinese flows. :( But it kind of gets across the imagery, I hope?

Another quote:

走了好一截子路,才知道天在下雨。一點點小雨,就像是天气的寒絲絲,全然不覺得是雨。

Only when he walked through another street did he realize that it was raining. A small rain, almost as if it were weather's winter-cold silk, barely even noticeable as rain.

Another failed translation, but I hope it gets across the prettiness? :D?

I've got about 65 vocabulary words from the first three pages. Eek, no wonder I'm reading it so slowly. Ah well.
 
 
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