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A Tale of Two Cities 雙城記
by Charles Dickens

Chapter I      The Period
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom;
it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief; it was the epoch
of incredulity; it was the season of Light; it was the season of Darkness;
it was the spring of hope; it was the winter of despair. We had everything
before us; we had nothing before us; we were all going direct to Heaven;
we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far
like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted
on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of
comparison only.
There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the
throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a
fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than
crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things
in general were settled for ever.
It was the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five
(1775). Spiritual revelations were conceded to England at that favoured
period, as at this. Mrs. Southcott had recently attained her five-and-twentieth
blessed birthday, of whom a prophetic private in the Life Guards had heralded
the sublime appearance by announcing that arrangements were made for the
swallowing up of London and Westminster. Even the Cock-lane ghost [1] had
been laid only a round dozen of years, after rapping out its messages, as
the spirits of this very year last past (supernaturally deficient in originality)
 rapped out theirs. Mere messages in the earthly order of events had lately
come to the English Crown and People, from a congress of British subjects
in America: which, strange to relate, have proved more important to the human
race than any communications yet received through any of the chickens of
the Cock-lane brood.
France, less favoured on the whole as to matters spiritual than her sister
of the shield and trident [2], rolled with exceeding smoothness down hill,
making paper money and spending it. Under the guidance of her Christian
pastors, she entertained herself, besides, with such humane achievements
as sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tongue torn out with
pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down in the
rain to do honour to a dirty procession of monks which passed within his
view, at a distance of some fifty or sixty yards. It is likely enough that,
rooted in the woods of France and Norway, there were growing trees, when
that sufferer was put to death, already marked by the Woodman, Fate, to come
down and be sawn into boards, to make a certain movable framework with a
sack and a knife in it, terrible in history. It is likely enough that in
the rough outhouses of some tillers of the heavy lands adjacent to Paris,
there were sheltered from the weather that very day, rude carts, bespattered
with rustic mire, snuffed about by pigs, and roosted in by poultry, which
the Farmer, Death, had already set apart to be his tumbrils of the Revolution.
 But that Woodman and that Farmer, though they work unceasingly, work silently,
 and no one heard them as they went about with muffled tread: the rather,
forasmuch as to entertain any suspicion that they were awake, was to be
atheistical and traitorous.
In England, there was scarcely an amount of order and protection to justify
much national boasting. Daring burglaries by armed men, and highway robberies,
 took place in the capital itself every night; families were publicly cautioned
not to go out of town without removing their furniture to upholsterers'
warehouses for security; the highwayman in the dark was a City tradesman
in the light, and, being recognised and challenged by his fellow-tradesman
whom he stopped in his character of "the Captain," gallantly shot him through
the head and rode away; the mall was waylaid by seven robbers, and the guard
shot three dead, and then got shot dead himself by the other four, "in consequence
of the failure of his ammunition:" after which the mall was robbed in peace;
that magnificent potentate, the Lord Mayor of London, was made to stand
and deliver on Turnham Green [3], by one highwayman, who despoiled the illustrious
creature in sight of all his retinue; prisoners in London gaols fought battles
with their turnkeys, and the majesty of the law fired blunderbusses in among
them, loaded with rounds of shot and ball; thieves snipped off diamond crosses
from the necks of noble lords at Court drawing-rooms; musketeers went into
St. Giles's [4], to search for contraband goods, and the mob fired on the
musketeers, and the musketeers fired on the mob, and nobody thought any of
these occurrences much out of the common way. In the midst of them, the
hangman, ever busy and ever worse than useless, was in constant requisition;
now, stringing up long rows of miscellaneous criminals; now, hanging a housebreaker
on Saturday who had been taken on Tuesday; now, burning people in the hand
at Newgate [5] by the dozen, and now burning pamphlets at the door of Westminster
Hall; to-day, taking the life of an atrocious murderer, and to-morrow of
a wretched pilferer who had robbed a farmer's boy of sixpence.
All these things, and a thousand like them, came to pass in and close upon
the dear old year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. Environed
by them, while the Woodman {Fate] and the Farmer {Death] worked unheeded,
those two of the large jaws [kings of England and France], and those other
two of the plain and the fair faces [queens of England and France], trod
with stir enough, and carried their divine rights with a high hand. Thus
did the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five conduct their Greatnesses,
 and myriads of small creatures--the creatures of this chronicle among the
rest--along the roads that lay before them.

1) 生詞自查。
2) 作者介紹﹕Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 -- 9 June 1870)
was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian
period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous
author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible
for some of English literature's most iconic novels and characters.
3) 小說介紹﹕A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a novel by Charles Dickens,
set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution.  It ranks
among the most famous works in the history of fictional literature. The
novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralized by the French
aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding
brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats
in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels
with life in London during the same time period. It follows the lives of
several protagonists through these events. The most notable are Charles
Darnay and Sydney Carton. Darnay is a French once-aristocrat who falls victim
to the indiscriminate wrath of the revolution despite his virtuous nature,
and Carton is a dissipated British barrister who endeavours to redeem his
ill-spent life out of his unrequited love for Darnay's wife, Lucie Manette.
4) 註釋﹕[1] The Cock Lane ghost attracted mass public attention in 18th-century
England. In 1762 an apartment in Cock Lane, a short road adjacent to London's
Smithfield market and a few minutes' walk from St Paul's Cathedral, was
the site of a reported haunting centred around three people: William Kent,
a usurer from Norfolk, Richard Parsons, a parish clerk, and Parsons' daughter
Elizabeth. Following the death during childbirth of Kent's wife, Elizabeth
Lynes, he became romantically involved with her sister, Fanny. Canon law
prevented the couple from marrying, but they nevertheless moved to London
and lodged at the property in Cock Lane, then owned by Parsons. Several
accounts of strange knocking sounds and ghostly apparitions were reported,
although for the most part they stopped after the couple moved out, but
following Fanny's death from smallpox, and Kent's successful legal action
against Parsons over an outstanding debt, they began again. Parsons claimed
that Fanny's ghost haunted his property, and later his daughter. Regular
seances were held to determine "Scratching Fanny's" motives, and Cock Lane
was often made impassable by the throngs of interested bystanders.
The ghost appeared to claim that Fanny had been poisoned with arsenic, and
Kent was publicly suspected of being her murderer, but a commission whose
members included Samuel Johnson concluded that the supposed haunting was
a fraud. Further investigations proved the scam was perpetrated by Elizabeth
Parsons, under duress from her father. Those responsible were prosecuted
and found guilty; Richard Parsons was pilloried and sentenced to two years
in prison. The Cock Lane ghost became a focus of controversy between the
Methodist and Anglican churches and is referenced frequently in contemporary
literature. Charles Dickens is one of several Victorian authors whose work
alluded to the story and the pictorial satirist William Hogarth referenced
the ghost in two of his prints. [2] Dickens' reference to England as France's
"sister of the shield and trident" makes use of a symbol of Englishness specifically
associated with currency at the time A Tale of Two Cities appeared. Moreover,
 Britannia appeared on English coins, which retain a closer association
to precious metals (and thus a gold or silver standard) than paper money,
which France began to print in great quantities (and without sufficient
reserves of gold to assure its value) in the years before the French Revolution.
 [3] Turnham Green is a public park situated on Chiswick High Road, Chiswick,
London. It is separated in two by a small road. [4] The St Giles's Roundhouse
was a small roundhouse or prison, mainly used to temporarily hold suspected
criminals. It was located in the St Giles area of present-day central London,
 which - during the 17th and 18th centuries - was a 'rookery' notorious
for its thieves and other criminals. [5] Newgate at the west end of Newgate
Street was one of the historic seven gates of London Wall round the City
of London and one of the six which date back to Roman times.
5) 狄更斯的“雙城記”當然是世界名著。以排比句開始故事的敘述也是一個特點。
頭。本人在美出版的小說“功夫大師”開頭也採用這種寫法﹕It was pitch dark,
ink dark, coal dark, a night without the moon--the fluorescent lamp of the
sky, not even the stars--the blinking eyes of Heaven. The overcast sky threatened
with a heavy downpour.


你"本人"写这两句英文读起来上气不接下气。语法用词都有问题。与Dickens没法比,天壤之别 -whatday- 给 whatday 发送悄悄话 (73 bytes) () 02/11/2012 postreply 09:15:32



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