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美文选刊|“见字如晤”,久违了!

时间:2019-07-07 来源:西安石油大学


Why It’s Time to Revive the Vanishing Art of Letter Writing

情满尺牍间,何不重采撷

文/奈杰尔·肯德尔

译/君彦

By Nigel Kendall



Five  years  ago,  Jodi  Ann  Bickley [1]  pledged  to  write   one  million   lovely  letters to people across the world. She reveals  how her journey with Cunard,  which  has  delivered  mail  for  nearly  180   years,   provided  both  time  and  inspiration to put pen to paper.

五年前,乔迪·安·比克利许诺要写 100 万封爱的信,送给世界各地的人们。 她讲述了自己的冠达邮轮之旅如何为她写信提供时间和灵感,而冠达已为世人传递信件近180 年。

[1] 乔迪·安·比克利,来自英国第二大城市伯明翰,16 岁罹患暴食症,21 岁被壁虱叮咬感染脑炎,不仅留下小中风后遗症,还饱受抑郁症折磨。 2013年年初,发现写信不仅能帮助别人,也能让她感到被需要。后来集结信件出书,并非为了赚钱,只是想凑出妈妈旅行的费用,以及购置以后寄信的邮票。



“Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls / For thus, friends absent speak.” The poet John Donne[2] wrote these words nearly 400 years ago to the author and diplomat Sir Henry Wotton[3]. Today, in the age of instant text messaging, social media and email, they ring truer than ever, because the writing or receiving of a real letter has become such a rare event.

“爵士,尺牍交心,胜于亲吻 / 故此,友人阔别,仍通其心。”近400年前,英国著名诗人约翰·多恩写下这行诗,赠予时任外交官的作家亨利·沃顿爵士。在当今这个即时短信、社交媒体与电子邮件盛行的时代,这些文字比以往更加真实,因为手写书信或亲启尺牍已成稀罕事。

[2] 约翰·多恩(1572—1631),英国诗人,17世纪“玄学派”代表,作品以爱情诗、宗教诗为主,多神学、哲学的思辨,打破了当时甜蜜华丽的抒情诗风。

[3] 亨利·沃顿爵士(1568—1639),出生于英国肯特郡博克顿豪尔,曾就读温彻斯特大学与牛津大学,1623年被任命为伊顿学院院长。曾发表过一些散文作品,不过文学声誉主要限于诗歌短章,思想高贵,有超凡脱俗的表现力。


A UK-wide survey undertaken by Cunard and Sunday Times Style suggests that one in four of us has not received a written letter for at least 10 years. That’s 10 years without the bitter-sweet pleasure of pacing the floor waiting for the postman; 10 years without recognizing the handwriting on an envelope and eagerly tearing it asunder to reveal its contents; and 10 years without the physical proof that someone cares enough about you to create a one-off work of art for your enjoyment.

冠达邮轮与《星期日泰晤士报时尚特刊》杂志曾携手在英国全境开展一项调查,结果显示,四分之一民众至少十年未收到过手写信。这十年,来回踱步等待信差而苦乐参半的愉悦消散了;这十年,打量信封辨别笔迹而急迫拆阅的热情消退了;这十年,深切关怀化作独一珍品以悦我心的实证也消失了。


We may not get them any more, but we still love handwritten letters: in the same survey, one third of British people said they remember the content of sentimental letters.

我们也许不再收信,但尺牍之情依旧:该项调查同时发现,有三分之一英国人表示至今记得那些真挚信件的内容。



“As I get older,” says John O’Connell, author of For the Love of Letters: The Joy of Slow Communication, “and friends and family die off, physical letters feel like holy relics—little pieces left behind. We have this idea that our digital footprints will stick around forever, and in a sense they will. But how accessible will they be? There are emails I sent 15 years ago that I’d love to see again but I have no idea how to get hold of them.” Shouldn’t we all make time to give our friends and family something they’ll treasure forever? 

《书信吾爱:慢递的喜悦》一书的作者约翰·奥康奈尔说:“当我年纪渐长,亲友相继离世,他们遗留的信件就如同圣物——仅有只言片语。一直认为数字化记录可以永久保存,某种意义上也的确如此。可是,想看就能看到吗?我想再看看15 年前自己写的电邮,但不知如何寻得到。”难道我们不应花些时间,为亲友送上一份能永久珍藏的东西吗?


Jodi Ann Bickley certainly thinks so. In 2013, the-then 24-year-old Bickley set out to inject a dose of warmth into peoples’ lives. She went online and offered to handwrite a letter to anyone who contacted her. Her website received 50,000 visitors in its first three months. 

乔迪·安·比克利肯定认为应该。2013年,24岁的比克利给人们的生活注入了一丝暖意。她在网上提出:凡联络者,可得尺牍一封。消息发布后的头3个月,她的网站访问量便达5万人次。


Five years later, she is still the main force behind onemillionlovelyletters.com, and has personally written 4,000 letters offering hope, support and comfort to strangers since. In recognition of her contribution to letter writing, she was invited on board Cunard’s ship, RMS Queen Mary 2, where she found the quality of service and her surroundings conducive to her craft.

5年之后,她仍是“百万爱信”网站的主笔,已亲笔写下4000封信,满载希望、支持与宽慰传递到陌生人手中。她对写信这件事的贡献得到了世人肯定,获邀搭乘冠达邮轮“玛丽皇后2号”,在邮轮上体验到有益书写的优质服务与优美环境。



On recount of her experience, being at sea with Cunard gives you time to reflect, to breathe in the fresh air, gaze out at the wide-open views, and put pen to paper in luxurious surroundings. Cunard has been delivering mail for nearly 180 years and has inspired generations of writers. Charles Dickens recorded his voyage on board the RMS Britannia in 1842, while in 2017 singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran created parts of his ÷ (Divide) album on board the Cunard flagship RMS Queen Mary 2. She also has a red Royal Mail letterbox where guests can post their postcards and letters to loved ones as they travel the world.

她描述说,当邮轮行驶海上,人们有充足时间思考,呼吸清新空气,眺望开阔海景,在豪华环境中执笔。冠达邮轮传送信件已将近180年,激发了好几代作家的创作灵感。小说家查尔斯·狄更斯记录了他1842 年乘坐冠达邮轮“不列颠号”航行的经历,创作歌手艾德·希兰则于2017 年在冠达邮轮旗舰“玛丽皇后2号”上创作了专辑《÷》中的部分作品。此外,“玛丽皇后2号”设有一个红色的皇家邮政邮筒,乘客可在游历世界之时给所爱之人寄去明信片与信件。


Letters weave their spell on the writer as much as the recipient. “The only time I ever truly relax is when I sit down to write a letter,” Bickley says. “Making the time to take a pen in your hand and write—I see it as a type of mindfulness.”

书信的魔力对写信人和收信人一样大。比克利说:“坐下写信是我唯一真正放松的时刻。腾出时间动笔写信——我认为这就是一种专注。”



The survey also suggests that one third of us are put off the idea of writing a letter by a lack of confidence about structure. How much does Bickley plan ahead? Does she have a formula? “No. I literally never draft a letter. I think when you write something down for the first time, that’s often the one with the most feeling in it. If I start a letter and I can’t write it, I never want it to seem forced, so I stop and return to it later.”

调查还显示,三分之一英国人对写信敬谢不敏,因为对如何写好信缺少信心。比克利会提前做多少计划?有模板吗?“没有。我写信从不打草稿。我认为,第一次写时往往感情最强烈。如果我提笔但写不出来,那我决不勉强,会停笔,稍后再写。”


The thought behind a letter matters just as much as its content. “I never tell anyone that everything’s going to be OK, because I can’t know that,” says Bickley. “I am letting someone know that there’s someone in the world who cares about them.”

尺牍包含的思想与内容同样重要。“我从不说‘一切都会好起来的’,因为我无法预知。”比克利说,“我就想让收信人知道,这世上有人在关心着他们。”


Who wouldn’t love to receive a letter like that? Let’s get writing.

谁不想收到这样的鸿雁传书呢?让我们动笔吧。


(译者曾获第三届“《英语世界》杯”翻译大赛优秀奖)

(选自《英语世界》2018年第12期



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