• 安安


    2018-01-02 11:19  


    John Boyne is an Irish author of novels for adults and young readers, including the award-winning The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2005) set in Germany during World War Two.His fourth children’s novel, Stay Where you are and then leave, also shortlisted for the Irish book awards Children’s book of the Year (2013), opens in London on the 28th of July, 1914, as the First World War is breaking out. It is also Alfie Summerfield’s fifth birthday and all he wants in the world is to ride the milk float with his father Georgie and deliver the milk. Georgie promises not to enlist in the army, but arrives home the next day wearing a soldier’s uniform having signed up. At first Alfie and his mother, Margie, receive cheerful letters from Georgie from the training camp and then from France, but the letters become increasingly darker and confused, and Margie refuses to read them to Alfie and hides them. Later Alfie find them and reads them for himself, and then after Georgie has been away for over two years, the letters stop altogether. Margie tells Alfie that this is because Georgie is on a secret mission and cannot write to them anymore. Alfie is not convinced and thinks that his father must be dead, but after a chance discovery that his father is in a hospital in England, he sets out on his own mission to bring his father home.

    约翰·伯恩是一位爱尔兰籍的小说家,他的小说主要是面向成人和年轻读者。他的作品有曾获奖的《穿条纹衣服的男孩》,故事背景为二战时期的德国。他的第四部儿童小说《等一等,再离开》也入围了2013年爱尔兰图书奖之年度最佳童书,这部小说的背景设定在1914年7月28日的伦敦,适逢一战爆发。这是阿尔菲•萨默菲尔德(Alfie Summerfield)的第五个生日,他想要的不过是与他的父亲乔治坐着送牛奶的马车一起去送牛奶。他的父亲乔治向他保证,他不会去参军——但第二天他就穿着一身军装回家了,他食言了。最开始,阿尔菲和他的母亲玛吉能收到乔治从训练营中寄回的信,信的内容也比较明朗;后来收到的是从法国寄回的信,但信的内容逐渐变得压抑起来,玛吉会把信都藏起来,不再读给阿尔菲听。再后来,阿尔菲自己找到了这些信,看了里面的内容。乔治离开两年后,便不再有信寄回来了。玛吉告诉阿尔菲是因为乔治在执行秘密任务,不能再给他们写信了。阿尔菲不信,认为他的父亲一定是死了。一个偶然的情况下,阿尔菲发现他的父亲就在英国的一家医院里,他决定把父亲从这个医院救出来。

    While some of the events in the novel seem contrived, such as Alfie’s meeting with the Prime Minister and the plot device whereby he find out where his father is, Boyne’s novel is remarkable for his treatment of narrative point of view. The novel uses a third person narrator, but events are described almost entirely from Alfie’s point of view. As with Boyne’s earlier novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, this technique shows how large-scale events impact on the life of an ordinary young person and also how a young person’s understanding of events can be limited and confused. Those limitations, in turn, can be empowering for readers who are able to know what the character knows, but are also able to fill in gaps in that understanding through their own knowledge of the world and history. Further, those readers with little knowledge of the events of World War One will be inspired by the gaps in Alfie’s narration to find out more about that history: why, for example, are Alfie’s neighbours, the Janāček family, taken away by soldiers as ‘persons of interest’? The technique also allows Boyne to create a believable young character who, by virtue of his ignorance and naivety, is also empowered to rescue his father, but to also help support his mother financially. In this way, Boyne’s narrative techniques treat both his readers and his characters with an intellectual respect: readers are not lectured or talked down to, but rather expected to have the intellectual resources to put the story together; and his characters are intelligent and resourceful, able to take positive actions in a chaotic and confusing world.


    Boyne’s writing is also remarkable for its detailed focus on the everyday lives of working class Londoners and the sensitivity with which characters are rendered. With Georgie away in France, Alfie’s mother has three jobs: she works as a nurse at the hospital, and she does laundry and mends clothes for wealthy London women. The extreme life of poverty in which she and Alfie are living in is alluded to through details such as: her constant worrying about how the bills are to be paid, her tiredness and unusual shortness of temper with Alfie, and references to food shortages in contrast to the array of food Margie prepared for Alfie’s fifth birthday party on the eve of the war. Through characterisation, the author depicts a diverse cross-section of the London populace, showing how everyday people lives in London were changed during and after the war. Alfie’s neighbour and best friend, KalenaJanāček, who was born in London, lives with her father, Mr Janāček, a migrant Jew from the Eastern European city of Prague, who owns and runs the local corner-store and sweet shop. Before the war they are an accepted part of the community. Six months into the war, however, Mr Janāček’s shop windows are smashed, the store vandalised and graffiti, reading ‘No Spies Here’, painted on the door. Shortly after this, soldiers arrive and Kalena and her father are taken away to an Internment camp. Another neighbour, Joe Patience, is a Unionist, a supporter of the Women’s Suffrage movement (which campaigned for women to be able to vote) and a ‘conchie’, or conscientious objector – that is he refuses to enlist in the army and be made to kill others. Before the war his views are tolerated, but as the war ensues he is verbally abused and physically beaten, and after conscription is introduced he is imprisoned in Wormwood Scrubs, a London jail, for two years.

    伯恩的小说还有一个优点,就是他着重于详细描述伦敦的工人阶级每天的日常生活,以及人物角色的敏感性。当乔治远在法国的时候,阿尔菲的母亲同时做三份工作:在医院当护士,还为伦敦的贵妇们洗衣服、缝补衣服。她和阿尔菲贫穷的生活可从多个细节看出来:她一直在担心怎么支付账单、她的疲惫、很罕见地冲阿尔菲发火,以及战争爆发前阿尔菲过五岁生日的时候她准备的食物比起来,后来食物短缺的状况。通过性格描述,作者描绘出了伦敦人民生活的各个方面,也展示了战争期间和战争之后伦敦人民的生活的变化。阿尔菲的邻居,也是他最好的朋友——卡莲娜(KalenaJanāček),是一个出生在伦敦的小女孩,她跟父亲——Janāček先生生活在一起。她的父亲是从东欧的布拉格移民过来的犹太人,在当地经营杂货店和甜品店。战争爆发前,社区里的人对他们很友好。然而,战胜爆发六个月后,有人把Janāček先生家店铺的玻璃打碎了,店铺也被毁得乱七八糟,门上还写着‘这里不欢迎奸细’。不久之后,士兵把卡莲娜和他的父亲带到了集中营里。阿尔菲的另一位邻居——乔·佩兴斯,他是工会成员,支持妇女选举权运动(致力于为妇女争取选举权的运动)。此外,他也是一名‘conchie’(拒绝服兵役者),或者也可以称作‘conscientious objector’(因道义或宗教原因拒服兵役者)-意思就是说他拒绝参军杀人。战争爆发前,没有人对他的观点有异议,但是战争爆发后,他遭受了言语侮辱和身体上的拷打。自从开始征兵后,他被送进了一所伦敦的监狱-沃尔姆德斯克监狱,被判了两年监禁。

    One night in 1918 as his mother is counting the pennies in her purse and deciding whether she should pay the rent, the coal man or the grocer, Alfie, now nine, has an idea. Having seen young boys polishing men’s shoes at King Cross station, he decides that is it time for him to do his bit in contributing to the household finances. He breaks into Mr Janāček’s still empty house, ‘borrows’ his shoeshine box, and, unbeknown to his mother, begins a shoeshine business at the train station – slipping a few coins into his mother’s purse each evening, but not so many that she will notice. Alfie’s business venture further enables the introduction of more characters and more insight into varied wartime experiences, as each of Alfie’s customers have their stories to tell. Mr Podgett, a bank manager, is a regular customer who boasts to Alfie about his son, Billy, increasing the number of men that Billy commands with each mention. Towards the end of the conversation, however, his facial expression becomes sorrowful and his voice quieter, as he implicitly expresses regrets as to the kind of young man Billy has grown up to be – that is, a leader of a battalion who enjoys war and wants it to never end – and finishes saying of his son that ‘there was a kindness there once’. Alfie also meets Wilf, a young returned serviceman who works at the War Office having lost a leg at the Battle of Mons. Wilf has been given a day off to attend the funeral of his younger brother, killed in France, and he talks with anger and hatred about what it is like to be out of uniform, and the hostile reactions he receives from people who don’t notice his cane. Encounters such as these are poignant; they paint the horror of war, the hypocrisy, hatred and misery that it generates, and way in which the war impacts on so many different aspects of everyday peoples’ lives.


    A central theme of the novel is with the family; while the war threatens to tear Alfie’s family apart, love and family connectedness have a healing capacity. Faced with poverty, starvation and the threat of eviction, Margie and Alfie both willingly make sacrifices. When Alfie eventually finds out where his father is, he travels to the hospital, not knowing that it is a military hospital for injured and maimed soldiers. Again, what Alfie sees here is described in detail, as is Alfie’s horrified emotional response; the visceral images of maimed and clearly distressed soldiers do not spare readers’ emotions, and, instead, paint vividly the horror and trauma that these men have experienced, and, the trauma that nine-year-old Alfie also experiences. I am reluctant to disclose how the narrative resolves, suffice to say that Boyne’s novel, on summation, is a moving, poignant but ultimately uplifting account of how individuals survived the trauma, brutality and futility of what was called The Great War, and ‘the war to end all wars’ – it is a bitter irony that there has subsequently been many more wars and that Boyne’s research has generated a beautifully written and moving novel.


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