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                双语全文 ● 鲁迅——社戏






                Village Opera

                In the past twenty years only twice have I been to see Chinese opera. During the first ten years I saw none, lacking both the wish and the opportunity. The two occasions on which I went were in the last ten years,but each time I left without seeing anything in it.

                The first time was in 1912 when I was new to Beijing. A friend told me Beijing had the best opera and that seeing it was an experience not to be missed. I thought it might be interesting to see an opera, especially in Beijing, and hurried in high spirits to some theatre, the name of which escapes me. The performance had already started. Even outside I could hear the beat of the drums. As we squeezed in, gaudy colours flashed into view,then I saw many heads in the auditorium; but when I collected myself to look around there were still a few empty seats in the middle. As I squeezed my way in to sit down, someone addressed me. Already there was such a buzzing in my ears that I had to listen hard to catch what he was saying—“Sorry, these seats are taken!”

                We withdrew to the back, but then a man with a glossy queue led us to one side and indicated an unoccupied place. This was a bench only a quarter the width of my thighs, but with legs two-thirds longer than mine. To begin with I hadn’t the courage to get up there. Then, being reminded of some instrument of torture, with an involuntary shudder I fled.

                I had gone some way when suddenly I heard my friend’s voice asking,“Well, What’s the matter?” Looking over my shoulder I saw he had followed me out. “Why are you marching along without a word?” he inquired in great surprise.

                “I’m sorry,” I told him. “There’s such a dingdong skirling in my ears, I didn’t hear you.”

                Whenever I thought back to this it struck me as most strange and I supposed that the opera had been a very poor one—or else a theatre was no place for me.







                I forget in what year I made the second venture, but funds were being raised for flood victims in Hubei and Tan Xinpei was still alive. By paying two dollars for a ticket, you contributed money and could go to the Number One Theatre to see an opera with a cast made up for the most part of famous actors, one being Tan Xinpei simply had to be seen. At that, I forgot the disastrous dingdong skirling of a few years before and went to the theatre—probably half because that precious ticket had cost so much that I would feel uncomfortable unless I used it. I learned that Tan Xinpei made his appearance late in the evening, and the Number One Theatre was a modern one where you did not have to fight for your seat. That reassured me, and I waited till nine o’clock before setting out. To my surprise, just as before, it was full. There was hardly any standing-room and I had to squeeze into the crowd at the rear to watch an actor singing and old woman’s part. He had a paper spill burning at each corner of his mouth and there was devil-soldier beside him. After racking my brains I guessed that this might be Maudgalyayana’s mother, because the next to come on was a monk. Not recognizing the actor, I asked a fat gentleman squeezed in on my left who he was. “Gong Yunfu!” he said, throwing me a withering sidelong glance. My face burned with shame over my ignorant blunder, and I mentally resolved at all costs to ask no more questions. Then I watched a heroine and her maid sing, next an old man and some other characters I could not identify. After that, I watched a whole group fight a free-for-all, and after that two or three people fighting together—from after nine till ten, from ten till eleven, from eleven till eleven-thirty, from eleven-thirty till twelve—but still there was no sign of Tan Xinpei.

                Never in my life have I waited so patiently for anything. But the wheezes of the fat gentleman next to me, the dingdong skirling, gonging and drumming on the stage, the whirling of gaudy colours, combined with the lateness of the hour, suddenly made me realize that this was no place for me. Mechanically turning round, I tried with might and main to shove my way out and felt the place behind me fill up at once—no doubt the elastic fat gentleman had expanded his right side into the space I vacated. With my retreat cut off, naturally there was nothing to do but push and push till at last I was out of the door. Apart from the rickshaws waiting for playgoers,there were practically no pedestrians in the street; but there were still a dozen or so people by the gate looking up at the programme, and another group not looking at anything who must, I thought, be waiting to watch the women come out after the show ended. And still no sign of Tan Xinpei....



                But the night air was so crisp, it really “seeped into my heart.” This seemed to be the first time I had known such good air in Beijing.

                I said goodbye to Chinese opera that night, never thinking about it again, and if by any chance I passed a theatre it meant nothing to me for in spirit we were long since poles apart.

                A few days ago, however, I happened to read a Japanese book—unfortunately I have forgotten the title and author, but it was about Chinese opera. One chapter made the point that Chinese opera is so full of gongs and cymbals, shouting and leaping, that it makes the spectators’ heads swim and is quite unsuited for a theatre; if performed in the open and watched from a distance, it has its charm. I felt that this put into words what had remained unformulated in my mind, because as a matter of fact I clearly remembered seeing a really good opera in the country and it was under its influence,perhaps, that after coming to Beijing I went twice to the theatre. It is a pity that, somehow or other, the name of that book escapes me.

                As to when I saw that good opera, it was really “long, long ago,” when I could not have been much more than eleven or twelve. It was the custom in Luzhen where we lived for married women not yet in charge of the household to go back to their parents’ home for the summer. Although my father’s mother was then still quite strong, my mother had quite a few domestic duties which made it impossible for her to spend many days at her old home during the summer. All she could spare was a few days after visiting the ancestral graves, and at such times I always went with her to stay in her parents’ house. That was in Pingqiao Village not far from the sea,a very remote little village on a river with less than thirty households of peasants and fishermen, and just one tiny grocery. To me, however, it was heaven, for not only was I treated as a guest of honour but here I could skip reading the Book of Songs.





                There were many children for me to play with. For with the arrival of a visitor from such a distance they got leave from their parents to do less work in order to play with me. In a small village, the guest of one family is virtually the guest of the whole community. We were all about the same age,but when it came to determining seniority many were at least my uncles or granduncles, since everybody in the village had the same family name and belonged to one clan. But we were all good friends, and if by some chance we fell out and I hit one of my granduncles, it never occurred to any child or grown-up in the village to call me “insubordinate.” Ninety-nine out of a hundred of them could neither read nor write.

                We spent most of our days digging up earthworms, putting them on little hooks made of copper wire, and lying on the river bank to catch prawns. The silliest of water creatures, prawns willingly use their own pincers to push the point of the hook into their mouths; so in a few hours we could catch a big bowlful. It was the custom to give these prawns to me. Another thing we did was to graze buffaloes together. But, maybe because they are animals of a higher order, oxen and buffaloes are hostile to strangers, and they treated me with such contempt that I never dared get too close. I could only follow at a distance and stand there. At such times my small friends, no longer impressed by my ability to recite classical poetry,would all start hooting with laughter.

                What I looked forward to most was going to Zhaozhuang to see the opera. Zhaozhuang was a slightly larger village five li away. Since Pingqiao was too small to afford to put on operas, every year it chipped in towards a performance at Zhaozhuang. At the time, it never occurred to me to wonder why they should put on operas every year. Thinking back to it now, I dare say it may have been a ritual drama for the late spring festival.

                The year that I was eleven or twelve, this long-awaited day came round again. But as ill luck would have it, there was no boat for hire that morning. Pingqiao Village had only one big ferry-boat, which put out in the morning and came back in the evening, and it was out of the question to use this. All the other boats were unsuitable, being too small. And the neighbouring villages, when people were sent to ask, had no boats either—they had all been hired already. My grandmother, very vexed, blamed the family for not hiring one earlier and started nagging. To console her, Mother said that our operas at Luzhen were much better than in these little villages, and as we saw several a year there was no need to go today. But I was nearly in tears from chagrin, and Mother did her best to impress on me on no account to make a scene, because it would upset my grandmother; nor must I got with other people either, or Grandmother might worry.





                In a word, it had fallen through. In the afternoon, when all my friends had left and the opera had started, I imagined I could hear the sound of gongs and drums and knew they were in front of the stage buying soyabean milk to drink.

                I caught no prawns that day, did not eat much either. Mother was very upset but could not think what to do. By supper time Grandmother too had finally caught on and she said I was right to be cross, they had been too remiss, and never before had guests been treated so badly. After the meal,youngsters back from the opera gathered round and gaily described it to us. I was the only one silent. They all sighed and said how sorry they were for me. Suddenly one of the brightest, Shuangxi, had an inspiration and asked,“A big boat? Hasn’t Eighth Granduncle’s ferry-boat come back?” A dozen other boys cottoned on and at once started agitating to take the boat and go with me. I cheered up. But Grandmother was nervous, thinking we were all children and undependable. And Mother said it would not be fair to ask grown-ups to stay up all night and go with us, as they all had to work the next day. While our fate hung in the balance, Shuangxi went to the root of the problem, declaring loudly, “I guarantee it’ll be all right! It’s a big boat,Brother Xun never jumps around, and all of us can swim!”

                It was true. Not a boy in the dozen but could swim, and two or three of them were first-rate swimmers in the sea.

                总之,是完了。到下午,我的朋友都去了,戏已经开场了,我似乎听到锣鼓的声音,而且知道他们在戏台下买ξ 豆浆喝。


                诚然!这十多个少年,委实@ 没有一个不会凫水的,而且两三个还是弄潮的好手。

                Grandmother and Mother, convinced, raised no further objections. Both smiled. We immediately rushed out.

                My heart after being so heavy was suddenly light, and I felt as though floating on air. Once outside, I saw in the moonlight a ferry-boat with a white awning moored at the bridge. We all jumped aboard, Shuangxi seizing the front pole and Afa the back one, while the younger boys sat down with me in the middle and those a little older went to the stern. By the time Mother followed us out to warn “Be carefull!” we had already cast off. We pushed off from the bridge, floated back a few feet, then moved forward under the bridge. Two oars were set up, each manned by two boys who changed shifts every li. Chatter, laughter and shouts mingled with the lapping of water against our bow; to our right and left stretched emerald green fields of beans and wheat, as we flew forward towards Zhaozhuang.

                The scent of beans, wheat and river-weeds wafted towards us through the mist, and the moonlight shone faintly through it. Distant grey hills,undulating like the backs of some leaping iron beasts, seemed to be racing past the stern of our boat; but I still felt our progress was slow. When the oarsmen had changed shifts four times, we began to make out the faint outline of Zhaozhuang and to catch the sound of singing and music. There were several lights too, which we guessed must be on the stage unless they were fishermen’s lights.

                The music was probably fluting. Eddying round and round and up and down, it soothed me and set me dreaming at the same time, till I felt as though I was about to drift far away with it through the night air heavy with the scent of beans, wheat and river-weeds.

                As we approached the lights, they proved to be fishermen’s lights and I realized it was not Zhaozhuang that I had been looking at. Directly ahead of us was a pine-wood where I had played the year before and seen a broken stone horse, fallen on its side, as well as a stone sheep couched in the grass. Once past the wood, our boat rounded a bend into a cove, and Zhaozhuang was really before us.

                外祖母和母亲也□ 相信,便不再驳回,都微笑了。我们立刻一哄的☆出了门。


                两岸的豆麦和河底的水草所发散出来的清香,夹杂在水气中扑面的吹来;月色便朦∴胧在这水气里。淡黑的起伏的连山,仿佛是踊跃的铁的兽脊似的▃,都远远地向船尾跑去了,但我却还以为船慢。他们换了四回手,渐望见依¤稀的赵庄,而且似乎听到歌吹了,还有ω 几点火,料想便是戏台,但或者也许是渔火。



                Our eyes were drawn to stage standing in a plot of empty ground by the river outside the village, hazy in the distant moonlight, barely distinguishable from its surroundings. It seemed that the fairyland I had seen in pictures had come alive here. The boat was moving faster now, and presently we could make out figures on the stage and a blaze of gaudy colours. The river close to the stage was black with the boat awnings of the spectators.

                “There’s no room near the stage, let’s watch from a distance,” suggested Afa.

                The boat had slowed down now, and soon we arrived. True enough, it was impossible to get close to the stage. We had to make fast even further away from it than the shrine opposite. But, in any case, we did not want our boat with its white awning to mix with those black ones and, besides, there was no room....

                While we hastily moored, there appeared on the stage a man with a long black beard and four pennons fixed to his back. With a spear he fought a whole group of bare-armed men. Shuangxi told us this was a famous acrobat who could turn eighty-four somersaults one after the other. He had counted for himself earlier in the day.

                We all crowded to the bow to watch the fighting, but the acrobat did not turn any somersaults. Only a few of the bare-armed men turned over heels a few times, then trooped off. Then a girl came out and sang in a shrill falsetto. “There aren’t many watching in the evening,” said Shuangxi, “and the acrobat’s taking it easy. Who wants to show off to an empty house?”That made sense to me, because by then there were not many spectators. The country folk, having work to do the next day, could not stay up all night and had gone home to bed. Standing there still were just a scattering of a few dozen idlers from Zhaozhuang and the villages around. The families of the local rich remained in the boats with black awnings, but they were not really interested in the opera. Most of them had come to the opera to eat cakes, fruit or melon-seeds. So it could really be reckoned an empty house.

                As a matter of fact, I was not too keen on somersaults either. What I wanted most to see was a snake spirit swathed in white, its two hands clasping above it a wand-like snake’s head, and next a leaping tiger dressed in yellow. But I waited a long time in vain. As soon as the girl left, out came a very old man acting the part of a young one. Feeling tired, I asked Guisheng to buy me some soyabean milk. He came back presently to say,“There isn’t any. The deaf man who sells it has gone. There was some in the daytime, I drank two bowls then. I’ll get you a dipperful of water to drink.”

                最惹眼的是ㄨ屹立在庄外临河的空地上的一座戏台,模胡在远处的∑ 月夜中,和空间几乎分不出界限,我疑心画上见过的仙境,就在这≡里出现了。这时船走得更快,不多时,在台上显出人物来█,红红绿绿的动,近台的河里一望乌黑的是看戏的人家的船篷。




                我们便都挤在船头上看打仗,但那铁头老生却又并不翻筋斗,只有几个赤膊的人翻,翻了一阵,都进去了,接着走〖出一个小旦来,咿咿呀呀的唱。双喜说,“晚上∑ 看客少,铁头老生也懈了,谁肯显本领给白地看呢?”我相信这话对,因为其时台下已经不很有人,乡下人为█了明天的工作,熬不得夜,早都睡觉去了,疏疏朗朗的站着的不过是几十个本村和邻村的闲汉。乌篷船里的那些土财主的家眷固然在,然而他们也不在乎看戏,多半是专到戏台下来吃糕饼水果和瓜子的。所以简直可以算白地。


                Instead of drinking the water, I stuck it out as best I could. I cannot say what I saw, but by degrees something strange seemed to happen to the faces of the players, whose features blurred as if melting into one flattened surface. Most of the younger boys yawned, while the older ones chatted among themselves. It was only when clown in a red shirt was fastened to a pillar on the stage, and a greybeard started horsewhipping him, that we roused ourselves to watch again and laughed. I really think that was the best scene of the evening.

                But then the old woman came out. This was the character I dreaded most, especially when she sat down to sing. Now I saw by everybody’s disappointment that they felt just as I did. To start with, the old woman simply walked to and fro singing, then she sat on a chair in the middle of the stage. I felt most dismayed, and Shuangxi and the rest started swearing. I waited patiently till, after a long time, the old woman raised her hand. I thought she was going to stand up. But dashing my hopes she lowered her hand slowly again just as before, and went on singing. Some of the boys in the boat could not help groaning; the rest began to yawn again. Finally Shuangxi, when he could stand it no longer, said he was afraid she might go on singing till dawn and we had better leave. We all promptly agreed,becoming as eager as when we had set out. Three or four boys ran to the stern, seized the poles to punt back several yards, then headed the boat around. Cursing the old woman, they set up the oars and started back for the pine-wood.

                Judging by the position of the moon we had not been watching very long, and once we left Zhaozhuang the moonlight seemed unusually bright.When we turned back to look at the lanternlit stage, it appeared just as it had been when we came, hazy as a fairy pavilion, covered in a rosy mist. Once again the flutes sounded melodiously in our ears. I suspected that the old woman must have finished, but could hardly suggest going back again to see.

                我不喝水,支撑着仍◣然看,也说不出见了些什①么,只觉得戏子的脸都渐渐的有些稀奇了,那五官渐不明显,似乎融成↓一片的再没有什么高低。年纪小的几个多打呵欠了,大的也各管自己谈□ 话。忽而一个红衫的小丑被绑在台柱子上,给一个花白胡子的用马鞭打起来了,大家才又振作精神的笑着看。在这一夜里,我以为这↑实在要算是最好的一折。



                Soon the pine-wood was behind us. Our boat was moving fairly fast,but there was such thick darkness all around you could tell it was very late. As they discussed the players, laughing and swearing, the rowers pulled harder on the oars. Now the plash of water against our bow was even more distinct. The ferry-boat seemed like a great white fish carrying a freight of children through the foam. Some old fishermen who fished all night stopped their punts to cheer at the sight.

                We were still about one li from Pingqiao when our boat slowed down,the oarsmen saying that they were tired after rowing so hard, with nothing to eat for hours. It was Guisheng who had a bright idea this time. He said the broad beans were just ripe, and there was fuel on the boat—we could filch some beans and cook them. Everybody approving, we promptly drew alongside the bank and stopped. The pitch-black fields were filled with plump broad beans.

                “Hey, Afa! They’re your family’s over here, and Old Liu Yi’s over there. Which shall we take?” Shuangxi, the first to leap ashore, called from the bank.

                As we all jumped ashore too Afa said, “Wait a bit and I’ll have a look.”He walked up and down feeling the beans, then straightened up to say,“Take ours, they’re much bigger.” With a shout we scattered through his family’s bean field, each picking a big handful of beans and throwing them into the boat. Shuangxi thought that if we took any more and Afa’s mother found out, she would make a scene, so we all went to Old Liu Yi’s field to pick another handful each.

                Then a few of the older boys started rowing slowly again, while others lit a fire in the stern and the younger boys and I shelled the beans. Soon they were cooked, and we let the boat drift while we gather round and ate them with our fingers. When the beans were finished we went on again, washing the pot and throwing the pods into the river, to destroy all traces. What worried Shuangxi now was that we had used the salt and firewood on Eighth Granduncle’s boat, and being a canny old man he was sure to find out and berate us. But after some discussion we decided that we had nothing to fear. If he swore at us, we would ask him to return the tallow branch he had taken the previous year from the river bank, and to his face call him “Old Scabby.”


                离平桥村还有一里↙模样,船⌒ 行却慢了,摇船的都说很疲乏,因为太用力,而且≡许久没有东西吃。这回想出来的是桂生,说是▓罗汉豆正旺相,柴火又现成,我们可以偷一点来煮吃的。大家都赞成,立刻近岸停了船;岸上的田里,乌油油的便都是结实的罗汉豆。




                “We’re all back! How could anything go wrong? Didn’t I guarantee that?” Shuangxi’s voice suddenly rang out from the bow.

                Looking past him, I saw we were already at Pingqiao and someone was standing at the foot of the bridge—it was my mother to whom Shuangxi had called. As I walked up to the bow the boat passed under the bridge, then stopped, and we all went ashore. Mother was rather angry. She asked why we had come back so late—it was after midnight. But she was pleased to see us too and smilingly invited everyone to go and have some puffed rice.

                They told her we had all had a snack to eat and were sleepy, so we had better get to bed at once, and off we all went to our different homes.

                I did not get up till noon the next day, and there was no word of any trouble with Eighth Granduncle over the salt or firewood. That afternoon we went to catch prawns as usual.

                “Shuangxi, you little devils stole my beans yesterday! And instead of picking them properly you trampled down quite a few.” I looked up and saw Old Liu Yi on a punt, coming back from selling beans. There was still a heap of left-over beans at the bottom of the punt.

                “Yes, we were treating a visitor. We didn’t mean to take yours to begin with,” said Shuangxi. “Look! you’ve frightened away my prawn!”

                When the old man saw me, he stopped punting and chuckled,“Treating a visitor? So you should.” Then he asked me, “Was yesterday’s opera good, Brother Xun?”

                I nodded. “Yes, it was.”

                “Did you enjoy the beans?”










                I nodded again. “Very much.”

                To my surprise, that gratified Old Liu Yi enormously. Sticking up one thumb he said complacently, “People from big towns who have studied really know What’s good! I select my bean seeds one by one, yet country folk who can’t tell good from bad say my beans aren’t up to other people’s. I’ll give some to your mother today for her to try....” With that he punted off.

                When Mother called me home for supper, on the table there was a large bowl of boiled beans which Old Liu Yi had brought for the two of us. And I heard he had praised me highly to Mother, saying, “He’s so young, yet he knows What’s what. He’s sure to come first in the official examinations in future. Your fortune’s as good as made, ma’am.” But when I ate the beans,they did not taste as those of the night before.

                It is a fact, right up till now, I have really never eaten such good beans or seen such a good opera as I did that night.








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