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The Life and Work of Professor Roy Millen

Robert Penn Warren (1905 - 1989)

source: The Circus in the Attic (1948)

Robert Penn Warren 於 1905 誕生於肯塔基州。他是唯一能夠在「小說」與「詩」兩大領域裡贏得普立茲獎的人。他最有名的著作是1946年寫的 "All the King's Men"。 這本書在1949年被拍成電影《當代奸雄》,並獲得當年奧斯卡最佳影片、最佳男主角和最佳男配角等三大巨獎。 本文則是摘錄自他1968年寫的短篇小說集 "The Circus in the Attic ".

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Professor Roy Millen had loved his wife devotedly, and now she was dead. ..... He made his plans to go abroad, to England, to work in the libraries there, as he and his wife had planned. It was what she should have him do, he told himself. And the book would be a kind of monument to her. He would dedicate the book to her. As he walked slowly back from the campus to his house in the late afternoons or early evenings of spring, he would try to compose the dedication. saying the words aloud to himself as he looked up at the paling, peach-colored sky beyond the newly leafed branches. He had decided to sail in June, as soon as he could leave after commencement.

"had loved" 用過去完成式,表示在他太太過逝之前。 devotedly 是由動詞 devote (奉獻) 的過去式 devoted (把自己奉獻給),化成的副詞。

"...should have him do" 假如她活著的話,“她該會使他這樣做的",指到英國圖書館去研究。

"monument" 紀念碑, 他的書將用以紀念他的妻子。 "a kind of" 好像是。 "dedicate" 獻給。"The book would ...", "He would dedicate..."這兩句的 would 表示將來。 "He would try ..."的 would 表示他的習慣:那年春天,每當黃昏薄暮,他慢慢步行回家的時候,"他總要..."。

"compose" (在心裡)擬(稿子)。dedication (卷首的)獻詞。"paling" pale 的現在分詞,"顏色在淡下去" 形容"sky"。"newly leafed" 剛長出樹葉的。 介系詞 "beyond"用得非常好, 來形容:天在樹外,紅綠相映,夕陽春光,各得其所。"commencement" 畢業典禮。 "sail" 搭船去(英國)。


"I hear you're going away for a year, Professor Millen,” Tom Howell said, standing respectfully before Professor Millen's office desk. Then he added, in a dutiful tone. "To work on your book.”

Yes,” Professor Millen said, "to work on my book.” Then, as though recollecting himself, he made a little gesture toward the chair in front of the desk, and said, "Won't you have a seat, Howell?"

"Are you going to finish it in a year?" Howell asked, and sit down.

"in a dutiful tone" 用非常恭敬的語調。 "recollecting himself" 恢復鎮定。突然有學生來訪,米倫教授忘了該請來客先坐下,然後再同他說話。

"I'm hoping ......" the boy hesitated, fumbling in his pocket to draw out a folded paper, "I'm hoping to be able to go abroad next year. If I can make it. That's what I wanted to see you about, Professor Millen."

"Anything I can do, I'll be glad to do."

"It's a scholarship. A French scholarship, and I was hoping you'd recommend me. I have had a lot of work with you, and all. The French Department will recommend me, but I have done my minor in English, you know. What you'd say would count a lot."

"hesitated" 吞吞吐吐地說。 "fumbling" 摸索。 "scholarship" 獎學金。 "and all" = "and everything else" 這兩個字有點含糊,但 Tom 也不想指明甚麼,含糊一點也好。 法文是他的 Major(主系), 英文則是他的 Minor (輔系)。 "What you'd say would count a lot." 是一句虛擬式,顯得很客氣。我不知道您會不會推薦我,假如您推薦我的話,那麼您所說的 (What you would say) 將會起很大作用

“Howell,” Professor Millen said, judicially putting the tips of his fingers together and inspecting the boy, “I’ve never had a better student than you are. Possibly never one as good. I’ll say that in my recommendation. I’ll write a strong one.” He felt his enthusiasm mounting as he spoke, and a warmth suffused him as though at the prospect of some piece of happiness, some success for himself.

"judicially" 像法官似的 "putting the tips of his fingers together" 把兩手手指對頂起來。 "inspecting" 仔細的看。 "Possibly never one as good." = "Possibly I've never had a student as good as you are". "that" 那件事實,即你是個優秀傑出的好學生。 "a strong one", one 代表 recommendation. 一封有力的推薦信。 "suffused" 遍佈。 "prospect" 所期望的東西。他覺得說話的時候很興奮,心頭熱了起來,好像自己將要有甚麼得意的事一般。

I certainly appreciate it,” the boy said. “This is about the only thing I've got in sight for next year, and I'm graduating. Oh, I reckon I could get a little teaching job or something for a year or two to save up some money to go on. I don't think I ought to ask my family for any more ….. they've been swell, putting me through college and giving me that trip to France two years back …..”

"about" = almost。 "in sight" 目前看的到的出路(thing)。 "I reckon" = I suppose。 "swell" 很好,棒。他的家庭供給他唸了四年大學,兩年前還送他去法國遊覽一趟,待他很好,他不應該再向家裡要錢了。

"Yes, yes." Professor Millen said abstractedly, “oh, yes, you did go over one summer, didn't you? ”

Oh, that was just for fun, ” Howell said, “but this time it would be for work, And when I get back I ought to be able to get a pretty good job so I could save enough to get my Ph. D. quick. Up East.”

A year of study in France will be a fine opportunity,” Professor Millen said. That enthusiasm and warmth which had filled him like a promise of happiness was waning now, he did not know why. He wished the boy would get up and go and leave him alone.

"abstractedly" 心不在焉地。 "for fun" 好玩的。 學生還不知道自己能不能去成,故用虛擬式 "it would be", "for work" 去唸書的。

"Ph. D." 哲學博士。 "Up East" 到東部去。

"fine opportunity" 好機會。教授剛才很興奮,可是那種興奮現在已經退下來了(waning)。"which had filled him like a promise of happiness" 這是個形容詞子句,形容 "enthusiasm and warmth"。 "get up and go" 起身離開。


Oh, it'll be an opportunity,” Howell agreed, “and I’m not going to waste it. The work'll be fun, and there ought to be a little fun besides, I was in Paris for two weeks ….. and you know how Paris is, it sort of knocks you off your feet, You've been there?”

"sort of" = somewhat, rather; 相當的。 "knocks you off your feet" 把你攪昏。 you 泛指一般人。


Yes, yes, ” Professor Millen said hurriedly, impersonally, almost impatiently, averting his face from the boy and looking off across the patch of lawn. wondering why he had lied, why he had told the boy he had been to Paris. He watched some students, two boys and a girl, who moved across the sunlit, open space. They moved lingeringly. It seemed they would never be across that bright, open space of green where the sun was. Then they were gone, hidden by the screen of foliage.

"averting his face" 把臉轉過去。 "the patch of lawn" 那片草地。

教授自己不懂為什麼要撒這樣一個謊(lie)。假如他承認沒有到過巴黎,是不是學生會以為他的學問不過呢?或者更嚴重的,學生會不會笑他的人生經驗不夠呢?他敢承認他沒有經驗過巴黎生活的那種樂趣(fun)嗎?

"sunlit" 陽光所照著的。 "lingeringly" 慢慢地。 "screen of foliage" 樹葉遮蔽。


Professor Millen turned and brought his gaze to rest again on the boy. The boy was leaning forward, his face smiling. Professor Millen saw, as if for the first time, the blond, crisp hair combed back from the square forehead, the confident gaze of the blue eyes, the comfortable, confident way the coat hung from the good shoulders.

"gaze" 凝視。 教授把他的凝視帶過來(brought)放在(rest)這個學生身上。這個學生的頭髮是金色的(blond),硬而細(crisp),從方正的前額往後梳;他的眼睛是藍色的,看人的時候,顯得很有自信;外套穿在身上,也顯得瀟灑自得。


The boy stood up. “I’ve stayed too long. I know you've got a lot of work to do.”

No,” Professor Millen said.

And I certainly appreciate your recommendation. The address of the scholarship committee is on here,” he said, and laid a printed sheet on the desk. “That's the circular, and all the information.”

I’ll attend to it right away,” Professor Millen said.

Thank you,” the boy said, and was gone.

"circular" 通知單,即上文所述學生從口袋裡掏出來的紙,記載一切有關講學金的事。 "attend to" = pay attention to; "right away" = at once, 馬上。

For a few minutes Professor Millen sat there, his eyes on the bare wall opposite his desk. Then he read the circular. He laid it back on the desk and pressed a button. When the secretary came in, he handed her the printed sheet. “The address is on that,” he said, and waited while she copied it. Then he said, “I'll give you the letter.” He studied the wall for a moment, then began:

"bare wall" 沒有任何裝飾(如掛照片圖像)或糊壁紙。 "button" 電鈴之鈕。 "I'll give you the letter" 他讀信稿由秘書速記。 "studied" 細看。


Gentlemen. I can truthfully say that I take the most sincere pleasure in recommending to you Mr. Thomas Howell. In my long career as a teacher I have never had a better student. He has an acute and penetrating intelligence, and, as is so often not the case with young men of his capacity, the patience and honesty of a true scholar. I am sure that if he is appointed to …” He hesitated, looking at the wall. “I am sure that …” he said at last, then stopped.

"In my long career as a teacher" 自我任教以來。 "intelligence" 智力。 "penetrating" 比 "acute" 更進一層: "acute" 敏銳而已,並不一定深入。 "penetrating" 則能發幽探微;動察根本。上面提及學生名字叫 Tom,Tom 是 Thomas 的比較親切的叫法。


The secretary, her pencil poised above her pad, waited while Professor Millen seemed to withdraw, to sink within himself. Her foot made a slight reproachful scraping sound as she changed her position in the chair. She, too, began to look out the window, where Professor Millen’s gaze now was fixed.

That’s allall for the present.” Professor Millen said, suddenly. “Just hold that and I’ll finish later. I’ve just thought …” he managed to look directly at her … “of something else I’ve got to do. There’s something else.”

"withdraw" 退出,這裡指的是出神。 "sink within himself" 陷入深思。

After the secretary had left the office, closing the door softly behind her, he did not move some time. Then he again looked out the window. The shadows were lengthening over the smooth lawn. The faintest premonitory flush was touching the puffs of white cloud visible toward the top of his window. Before long now he would be going home. He picked up the circular. He read it again very carefully, dwelling on it almost painfully, as though he were an illiterate trying to extort some secret from the words. He lifted his eyes from the sheet at the chair where the boy had sat leaning forward, the pleasure shining on his clear, handsome face, the good coat riding easy on his shoulders, saying, “…you know how Paris is, it sort of knocks you off your feet. You’ve been there?”

"dwelling on it" 長時間的想他。 "painfully" 痛苦的。 "illiterate" 文盲; 他並非文盲,故動詞用虛擬式的 were。 "extort" 用力逼出來。


Professor Millen let the circular slip from his lap to the floor. Then, decisively, he reached into the drawer of his desk and took out a sheet of paper. He wrote rapidly in his large, firm script:

"slip" 滑下去。 "lap" (衣,裙等的)下襬。 "decisively" 已經有了決定了。 "drawer" 抽屜。 "firm" 筆力堅挺 "script" 字體。


Gentlemen:

I have been asked to recommend Mr. Thomas Howell to you for a scholarship for study in France. As you will observe from a transcript of his academic record, with which no doubt you have been provided, he has made the grade of A in all of his work in the English department of this institution, and I understand that his grades in French (his major subject) have been very high. This achievement, of course, deserves consideration, but candor compels me to say that a superficial facility and cleverness seem to characterize his mind. I do not wish to prejudice the committee against his case, and I may be wrong in my estimate; certainly, I hope that the committee will consider him very carefully. But I do feel that he lacks solidity of character, the spirit of patient inquiry, and what might be termed the philosophical bent.

Very respectfully yours,
Roy Millen,
Professor of English.

"transcript" 副本。 "academic record" 成績單。 "with which no doubt you have been provided" 成績單諒必已經提供給您們。"institution" 指該大學。"This achievement" 這種成就,指成績皆列入A等。"deserves consideration"值得您們考慮(給他獎學金)。 "candor" 坦白。 "compels me" 迫使我。"superficial" 膚淺的。 "facility" 才能。 "cleverness" 小聰明。 "characterize" 表現特徵。 "prejudice" 使(人)發生偏見。 "case" 他來請求獎學金的這件事。 "estimate" 評估。 "solidity of character" 性格上的穩重。 "the spirit of patient inquiry" 耐心探求的精神。 最後一個名詞子句 "what might be termed the philosophical bent" 他還缺一種特質,無以名之,姑且稱之為:研究哲理的傾向(或興趣)。

Without looking up, he addressed an envelope hurriedly, the pen making a dry, scratching sound. Then he blotted and stamped the envelope, inserted the sheet, put the letter into his pocket, picked up his hat, and left the office. lie would, he remembered, pass a postbox on his way home.

"addressed" 寫地址。 "blotted" 用吸水紙來弄乾。 "stamped" 貼上郵票。 "inserted" 將信紙放入信封。"postbox" 郵筒。 對於 Tom Howell 很不利的一封推薦函(?)就要寄出去了。