英语短文:The Roots of My Ambition我的自强之源(双语阅读)

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The Roots of My Ambition我的自强之源

My mother, dead now to this world but still roaming free in my mind, wakes me some mornings before daybreak. "If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a quitter."

我的母亲现在已经离开人世,但仍会时时在我的脑海中浮现,很多次在黎明时把我从梦中唤醒。“如果有什么让我无法容忍的事,那就是轻易退缩的人。”

I have heard her say that all my life. Now, lying in bed, coming awake in the dark, I feel the fury of her energy fighting the good-for-nothing idler within me who wants to go back to sleep instead of tackling the brave new day.

她的话一生都萦绕在我的耳际。此刻,我躺在床上,在黑暗中慢慢醒来,想重回梦乡而不愿紧紧抓住美好而崭新的一天,我感觉到了她愤怒的气息与我体内那个没用的懒汉奋力抗争。

Silently I protest: I am not a child anymore. I have made something of myself. I am entitled to sleep late.

我默默地抗议:我不再是个孩子了,我自己已经取得了成功,我有资格睡会儿懒觉。

"Russell, you've got no more gumption than a bump on a log."

“拉塞尔,你一点进取心也没有,和一个二流子没什么区别。”

She has hounded me with these battle cries since I was a boy in short pants.

当我还是个未成熟的小男孩时,她就开始用这些话激励我。

"Make something of yourself."

“你要取得成功。”

"Don't be a quitter!"

“不要遇到困难就退缩!”

"Have a little ambition, buddy."

“小伙子,要有雄心壮志!”

The civilized man of the world within me scoffs at materialism and strivers after success. He has read the philosophers and social critics. He thinks it is vulgar and unworthy to spend one's life pursuing money, power, fame, and--"Sometimes you act like you're not worth the powder and shot it would take to blow you up with."

我内心世界中那个“文明人”嘲笑追求物质享受且孜孜不倦追求成功的人。“他”读过哲学家和社会评论家的书,认为把一生花费在追求财富、权力和名声上是庸俗而且没有价值的。这时我听到——“有时你的表现让人觉得都不值得拿弹药将你炸掉。”

Life had been hard for my mother ever since her father died, leaving nothing but debts. The family house was lost, the children scattere.d My mother's mother, fatally ill with tubercular infection, fell into a suicidal depression and was institutionalized. My mother, who had just started college, had to quit and look for work.

自从姥爷去世后,母亲的生活就一直很艰难。姥爷除了留下一堆债务之外,什么也没有留下。失去了住宅,儿女四散。姥姥染上了致命的结核病,心情抑郁,一心想自杀,被送进了精神病院。那时母亲才刚刚进入大学,却不得不辍学找工作。

Then, after five years of marriage and three babies, her husband died in 1930, leaving my mother so poor that she had to give up her baby Audrey for adoption. Maybe the bravest thing she did was give up Audrey, only ten months old, to my Uncle Tom and Aunt Golddie. Uncle Tom, one of my father's brothers, had a good job with railway and could give Audery a comfortable life.

然后,在1930年,母亲在结婚5年、生了3个孩子之后,父亲去世了,留下母亲一人贫困潦倒,迫使她把自己的孩子奥德丽送给别人收养。也许她做得最勇敢的事情就是将仅仅10个月大的奥德丽送给我的叔叔汤姆和婶婶戈尔迪收养。我叔叔汤姆是我父亲的弟弟,他在铁路上有一份不错的工作,能让奥德丽过上舒适的生活。

My mother headed off for New Jersy with my other sister and me to take shelter with her brother Alen, poor relatives dependent on his goodness. She eventually found work patching grocers' smocks at ten dollars a week in a laundry.

母亲带着我和另一个妹妹去了新泽西投靠舅舅艾伦,我们这些穷亲成就靠他的善举度日。最终她在一家洗衣店找到了一份工作,修补杂货店的工作服,每星期能挣10美元。

Mother would have liked it better if I could have grown up to be President or a rich businessman, but much as she loved me, she did not deceive herself. Before I was out of grade school, she could see I lacked the gifts for making millions or winning the love of the crowds. After that she began nudging me toward working with words.

如果我长大后能成为总统或富商,母亲可能会更高兴。但是,虽然她非常爱我,也不会欺骗自己。我还在上小学时,她就看出我缺乏赚大钱和赢得众人爱戴的天赋。自此她就开始促使我做文字工作。

Words ran in her family. There seemed to be a word gene that passed from her maternal grandfather. He was a schoolteacher, his daughter Lulie wrote poetry, and his son Charlie became New York correspondent for the Baltimore, Herald. In the turn-of-the-century American South, still impoverished by the Civil War, words were a way out.

文字工作在母亲家一脉相承。从她外祖父起,似乎就有一个文字基因代代相传。母亲的外祖父是一名教师,他的女儿露丽会写诗,他的儿子查理成了巴尔的摩《先驱报》驻纽约记者。时值世纪之交,内战后的美国南部依旧贫困,文字工作是一条出路。

The most spectacular proof was my mother's first cousin Edwin. He was managing editor of the New York Times. He had traveled all over Europe, proving that words could take you to places so glorious and so far from Virginia sticks that your own kin could only gape in wonder and envy. My mother often used Edwin as an example of how far a man could go without much talent.

一个最突出的例证就是母亲的大表兄艾德文。当时他是《纽约时报》的总编辑,走遍了欧洲,充分证明了文字工作能把一个人从弗吉尼亚的穷乡僻壤带到如此繁华如此遥远的地方。亲戚们对此目瞪口呆,既惊讶又羡慕。母亲常以艾德文为榜样,说明一个人即使没有大多天赋也可以取得成就。

"Edwin James was no smarter than anybody else, and look where he is today." my mother said, and said, and said again, so that I finally grew up thinking Edwin James was a dull clod who had a lucky break. Maybe she felt that way about him, but she was saying something deeper. She was telling me I didn't have to be brilliant to get where Edwin had got to, that the way to get to the top was to work, work, work.

“艾德文•詹姆斯并不比其他任何人聪明,然而看看他今天的成就。”母亲一遍又一遍地说,结果我终于长大以后却把艾德文•詹姆斯想成是碰上了好运气的呆子。或许母亲对他也是那种看法,但她说的话另有深意。她是在告诉我:要想达到艾德文的高度,不需要有多么聪明,攀上高峰的途径就是努力,努力,努力!

When my mother said that I might have the word gift, she started trying to make it grow. Though desperately poor, she signed up for a deal that supplied one volume of "World's Greatest Literature" every month at 39 cents a book.

当母亲觉得我可能有文学天賦时,就开始努力培养。虽然极度贫困,她还是给我订了一套《世界文学名著》,每本39美分,每月一本。

I respected those great writers, but what I read with joy were newspapers. I lapped up every word about monstrous crimes, dreadful accidents and hideous butcheries committed in faraway wars. Accounts of murderers dying in the electric chair fascinated me, and I kept close track of fast meals ordered by condemned men.

我尊敬那些伟大的作家,但能让我产生兴趣的是读报纸。我啃食这每一个关于骇人犯罪、可怕事故和远方战场上的惨不忍睹的杀戮的文字。对死在电椅上的谋杀犯的描述吸引着我,我紧紧追随着已被定罪的人定的快餐。

In 1947 I graduated from Johns Hopkins and learned that the Baltimore Sun needed a police reporter. Two or three classmates at Hopkins also applied for the job. Why 1 was picked was a mystery. It paid $30 a week. When I complained that was insulting for a college man, my mother refused to sympathize.

1947年,我从约翰斯•霍普金斯大学毕业,了解到《巴尔的摩太阳报》需要一名采访警方新闻的记者。两三名霍普金斯大学的同学也在申请这份工作。我为什么被选中至今仍然是个谜。那份工作的周薪是30美元。我抱怨那对一个大学生简直是一种侮辱,母亲却没有一点同情。

"If you work hard at this job," she said,"maybe you can make something of it. Then they'll have to give you a raise."

“如果你努力做好这份工作,”她说,“或许你会有所成就,然后他们就不得不给你加薪。”

Seven years later I was assigned by the Sun to cover the White House. For most reporters, being White House correspondent was as close to heaven as you could get. I was 29 years old and puffed me with pride. I went to see mother's delight while telling her about it. I should have known better.

7年后,《太阳报》派我采访白宫新闻。对大多数记者来说,采访白宫新闻不啻一步登天。当时我29岁,满是骄傲,我去找母亲,希望她听了会高兴。其实我早该知道自己不应抱那样的期望。

"Well, Russell," she said,"if you work hard at this White House job, you might be able to make something of yourself."

“很好,拉塞尔,”她说,“如果你努力做好这份采访白宫新闻的工作,也许能取得成就。”

Onward and upward was the course she set. Small progress was no excuse for feeling satisfied with yourself. People who stopped to pat themselves on the back didn't last long. Even if you got to the top, you'd better not take it easy. "The bigger they come, the harder they fall" was one of her favorite maxims.

不断前进,不断向上,这就是她设定的道路。小小的进步不应成为骄傲自满的理由。停止激励自己前进的人好景不长。即使攀上了高峰,也最好不要松劲。“爬得越高,摔得越重”是她最喜欢的座右铭之一。

During my early years in the newspaper business, I began to entertain childish fantasies of revenge against Edwin. Wouldn't it be delightful if I became such an outstanding reporter that the New York Times hired me without knowing I was related to the Great Edwin? Wouldn't it be delicious if Edwin himself invited me into his huge office and said, "Tell me something about yourself, young man?" What exquisite vengeance to reply,"I am the only son of your poor cousin Lucy Elizabeth Robinson."

进入新闻界的前几年,我开始怀有一个充满孩子气的怪念头:“报复”一下艾德文。如果我成为一名卓越的记者,以至于《纽约时报》在不知道我与大人物艾德文是亲戚的情况下来聘请我,岂不是一件乐事?如果艾德文本人把我请进他的大办公室说:“年轻人,谈谈你的个人情况”,岂不非常有趣?当我回答“我就是你的穷表妹露西•伊丽莎白•罗宾逊唯一的儿子”时,那又是多么绝妙的“报复”!

What would one day happen was right out of my wildest childhood fantasy. The New York Times did come knocking at my door, though Cousin Edwin had departed by the time I arrived. Eventually I would be offered one of the gaudiest prizes in American journalism: a column in the New York Times.

有一天,事情的发展竟然完全超出我那狂野的充满孩子气的想法。《纽约时报》真的来叩门了,然而当我到达那儿时,表叔艾德文已经离开报社了。最后,我应要求在《纽约时报》设立一个专栏,这是美国新闻界最引人注目的荣誉之一。

It was not a column meant to convey news, but a writer's column commenting on the news by using different literary forms: essay devices, satire, burlesque, sometimes even fiction. It was proof that my mother had been absolutely right when she sized me up early in life and steered me toward literature.

那不是一个报导新闻的专栏,而是作家使用不同的文学形式——随笔,讽刺,漫画,有时甚至是小说——来评论时事的专栏。这证明,母亲当年对我做出评估并指引我从事文学的做法是完全正确的。

The column won its share of medals, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1979. My mother never knew about that. The circuitry of her brain had collapsed the year before, and she was in a nursing home, out of touch with life forevermore.

这个专栏获得了各种奖项,包括1979年的普利策奖。但母亲永远不会知道了。在那一年之前,母亲的脑循环系统失常,住进了疗养院,永远和社会生活断了联系。

I can only guess how she'd responded to news of the Pulitzer. I'm pretty sure she would have said, "That's nice, Buddy. It shows if you buckle down and work hard, you'll be able to make something ofyourself one of these days."

我只能猜想母亲得知我获得普利策奖时的反应,我非常肯定她会这样说:“干得不错,孩子。这就说明,只要你专心致志,并且不断努力,终有一天你会取得成就。”

"If there's one thing I can't stand, Russell,it's a quitter." Lord, I can hear her still.

“如果有什么让我无法容忍的事,那就是轻易退缩的人。”上帝啊,她的话语依稀萦绕我的耳际。

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