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Impressions of America


(Excerpts )


Oscar wilde

奥斯卡. 维尔德

I fear I cannot picture America as altogether an Elysium? 恐怕我不能把美国完全比作是一个极乐世界。 Perhaps, from the ordinary standpoint I know but little about the country. I cannot give its latitude or longitude; I cannot compute the value of its dry goods, and I have no very close acquaintance with its politics. 或许,从普通角度上来说,我对美国知之甚少,不能说去它的经纬度,不能估算出它所有的谷物的价值,并且对美国的政策也没有透彻的了解。 These are matters which may not interest you, and they certainly are not interesting to me. 你们对这些东西可能不感兴趣,但是我对这些东西肯定不感兴趣。

The first thing that struck me on landing in America was that if the Americans are not the most well-dressed people in the world, they are the most comfortably dressed. 踏上美国后,第一个深刻的印象是:美国人的穿着可能算不上是世界上最讲究的,但却是最舒适的。 Men are seen there with the dreadful chimney-pot hat, but there are very few hatless men; men wear the shocking swallowtail coat, but few are to be seen with no coat at all. 这的男人带着很糟糕的烟囱礼帽,很少有不戴帽子的;他们穿着难看的燕尾服,却很少有人不穿外套。 There is an air of comfort in the appearance of the people which is a marked contrast to that seen in this country, where, too often, people are seen in close contact with rags这个城市到处充满着舒适的气息,这与我国常见的衣衫褴褛的人形成了鲜明的对比.

The next thing particularly noticeable is that everybody seems in a hurry to catch a train. 我关注的第二件事就是这里的人似乎总是在匆匆忙忙的赶火车。 This is a state of things which is not favorable to poetry or romance. 这种情形似乎一点也没有诗意,一点也不浪漫。 Had Romeo or Juliet been in a constant state of anxiety about trains, or had their minds been agitated by the question of return-tickets, Shakespeare could not have given us those lovely balcony scenes which are so full of poetry and pathos. 如果罗密欧与朱丽叶总在为赶火车而担心,或者为返程车票而烦恼,莎士比亚是不可能写出那么富有诗意与伤感情调的阳台景色的。

America is the noisiest country that ever existed. 美国曾经是最嘈杂的城市。 One is waked up in the morning, not by the singing of the nightingale, but by the steam whistle. 人们每天早晨不是在夜莺的叫声中醒来,而是被汽

笛的鸣笛声吵醒。 It is surprising that the sound practical sense of the Americans does not reduce this intolerable noise. 令人吃惊的是,美国人的听力敏感度在这样嘈杂的环境中竟没有降低。All Art depends upon exquisite and delicate sensibility, and such continual turmoil must ultimately be destructive of the musical faculty. 所有的艺术都依赖于精细微妙的洞察力,而这不断的骚乱最终必会影响他们的音乐天赋。

There is not so much beauty to be found in American cities as in Oxford, Cambridge, Salisbury or Winchester, where are lovely relics of a beautiful age; 与牛津、剑桥、索尔兹伯里、温切斯特相比,美国的城市它们那么美,也没有那么悠久的历史; but still there is a good deal of beauty to be seen in them now and then, but only where the American has not attempted to create it. 但美国也却不乏许多美景,只是美国人没有去改造过的那些。Where the Americans have attempted to produce beauty they have signally failed. 反而当他们刻意着去创造美时,却失败了。A remarkable characteristic of the Americans is the manner in which they have applied science to modern life.美国人非凡的的特点是他们在现代生活中有着科学的方法和态度。

This is apparent in the most cursory stroll through New York.即使在纽约走马观花的看也能明显的体会到这一点。In England an inventor is regarded almost as a crazy man, and in too many instances invention ends in disappointment and poverty. 在英国,人们常把发明家视作疯子,发明导致失落与穷困潦倒的例子数不胜数。In America an inventor is honoured, help is forthcoming, and the exercise of ingenuity, the application of science to the work of man, is there the shortest road to wealth. 然而,在美国,发明家是受人尊敬的,他随时可以得到支持与帮助,将科技成果应用到工作中,是创造财富的捷径。There is no country in the world where machinery is so lovely as in America. 世界上几乎没有哪个国家比美国更能将机器应用自如了。

It is ,perhaps , worth while to note that what many people call Americanism are really old English expressions which have lingered in our colonies while they have been lost in our own country. 或许,值得注意的是,许多被人们称赞的美语表达是古英语的用法,这些用语在我国(英国)已经消失,却在英国殖民地留存下来。Many people imagine that the term “I guess”, which is so common in America, is purely an American expression, but it was used by John Locke in his work on The Understanding, just as we now use “I think”. 就像许多人认为“我猜”是常用美语表达,可是约翰-洛克在他的作品《人类理解论》中就使用过,与我们现在使用“我想”一样普遍。