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双语全文 ● 鲁迅——端午节






The Double Fifth Festival

Recently the phrase “much of a muchness” had virtually become Fang Xuanchuo’s watchword. Not only on his lips, it was indeed entrenched in his mind. At first he had said “all the same.” Later, probably thinking this unreliable, he had switched to “much of a muchness” and used it right up till now.

Since his discovery of this commonplace dictum, although it had evoked not a few new emotions, at the same time he derived much comfort from it. For instance, when he saw the old domineering over the young,whereas once this had enraged him he now came round to thinking: when these youngsters have children and grandchildren themselves, they will probably throw their weight about like this too. Then it no longer seemed unjust. Or when he saw a soldier beating a rickshaw man, whereas once this had enraged him he now came round to thinking: if these two men were to change places, the rickshaw man would probably do the same. Then it no longer worried him. Sometimes, when such thoughts crossed his mind, he had misgivings, attributing his self-delusive escapism to his lack of courage to battle against social evils. It was akin to having “no sense of right and wrong,” and fell far short of reform. None the less, this viewpoint grew on him.

He first made public this theory of “much of a muchness” in a classroom in Shoushan School in Beijing. At the time, doubtless referring to past history, he said, “the men of old and those of today are not far apart,”whatever their colours “by nature they are akin,” and finally he led up to students and officials, airing his views at some length.

“In our society today it’s all the rage to inveigh against of officials, and those who do this most harshly are students. But officials are not a race apart from birth; they come from the common people. Not a few of today’s officials started as students, just like the old mandarins. ‘If they changed places their conduct would be the same.’ There is not much to choose between them in outlook, speech, behaviour or appearance. As for many of the new activities launched by student bodies, didn’t malpractices result,almost inevitably, so that most of them have now gone up in smoke? It’s much of a muchness. But herein lies our concern over China’s future....”






Of his twenty-odd auditors seated here and there in the classroom,some showed dismay, perhaps believing him right; some were angry,doubtless thinking this an insult to sacred youth; a few smiled at him,doubtless thinking this a self-justification—because Fang Xuanchuo also held an official post.

In fact, all of them were wrong. This was simply a new sense of injustice he had. Even so, it was just empty, law-abiding talk. Although not knowing himself whether owing to indolence, or because it was useless, at all events he refused to take part in movements and regarded himself as thoroughly law-abiding. Accused by his superiors of being psychopathic, as long as this did not affect his position, he never protested. When his school salary was more than half a year in arrears, so long as he had his official pay to live on,he never protested either. He not only kept his mouth shut, when the teachers banded together to demand payment, he privately considered this imprudent and too vociferous; only when his colleagues ran them down too harshly did he feel slightly disturbed; but then it occurred to him that this might be because he himself was hard up and the other officials did not hold teaching posts, and so he overlooked it.

Although he, too, was hard up, he never joined the teachers’ union; but when the others decided to go on strike he stayed away from class. The government ultimatum, “No pay till classes are resumed,” annoyed him,because this seemed like tempting a monkey with fruit. However, not until an outstanding educationist said, “It is in poor taste for teachers, a briefcase in one hand, to hold out the other for money,” did he make any formal complaint to his wife.

“Hey, why are there only two dishes?” he asked, eyeing the supper table, the evening after hearing this stricture on “poor taste.”





They had not had a modern education, and as his wife had no school name or poetic name, he did not know what to call her. For although he could have used the old term “madam,” he did not want to be too conservative and hence had invented this “Hey.” His wife had not even a“Hey” for him. If she just faced him when talking, he knew from habit that she was speaking to him.

“But that fifteen per cent you got last month is all spent.... We had trouble getting yesterday’s rice on credit.” She stood beside the table confronting him.

“See here, they say teachers cheapen themselves by demanding payment. Apparently those creatures don’t know the elementary fact that people need to eat, to eat you need rice, and to buy rice you need money.”

“That’s it. Without money how are we to buy rice, without rice ...”

He puffed out his cheeks, as if angry because this answer was “much of a muchness” with what he had said, practically echoing it. Then he turned his head aside, this being his customary way to terminate a discussion.

One cold, wet, windy day, because teachers went to demand payment from the government, after they had been beaten over the head by troops,and their blood had dripped in the mud outside Xinhua Gate, they unexpectedly got a little back pay. Without having lifted a finger, Fang Xuanchuo took his money, and with it settled some debts. But he was still very short, because of a serious delay in issuing his official salary. At this time, even those incorruptible officials were beginning to think a demand must be made for payment; and Fang Xuanchuo, as he was a teacher too,naturally felt even more sympathy for educational circles; thus when everybody proposed remaining on strike although he still did not attend the meeting he gladly abided later by the general decision.

Then, finally, the government resumed payment, and the schools started classes again. But a few days before this, the student union had petitioned the government, “If teachers still won’t give classes, don’t pay their arrears.” Although this proved ineffectual, it suddenly reminded Fang Xuanchuo of the earlier government ultimatum, “No pay till classes are resumed.” The reflection “much of a muchness” flashed before him, and did not fade away. Hence he had expounded it publicly in the classroom.








This being the case, obviously if the “much of a muchness” theory is hammered out, it can naturally be adjudged a sense of injustice combined with personal feeling, but not a justification for holding an official post oneself. However, at such times, he often liked to drag in such problems as China’s future, and, unless careful, would even consider himself a highminded man concerned for the country’s future: It is a common failing, this lack of “self-knowledge.”

But something “much of a muchness” happened again. The government,although at first it simply ignored those teachers who were such a headache,later ignored the innocuous officials, withholding their pay until finally quite a few of those good officials, who had despised the teachers for asking for money, boldly took the lead in a rally to demand payment. Only a few newspapers published articles deriding them. Fang Xuanchuo, no whit surprised, paid no attention, for according to his theory “much of a muchness,” he knew this was because the journalists had not yet had their pay docked. If the government or the rich were by any chance to stop their subsidies, most of them would hold a rally too.

As he had already expressed sympathy for the teachers demanding payment, he naturally approved of his colleagues doing the same; but he went on sitting in his yamen, still not accompanying the other duns. As for those who suspected him of holding aloof, that was just a misunderstanding. According to him, all his life, people had asked him to pay his debts but he had never dunned anyone else, so this was not something “he excelled in.”Besides, he steered clear of those who wielded economic power. Certainly such people, once they lost their power and preached Buddhist scriptures,were also most “lovable” ; but while still enthroned they behaved like the King of Hell, regarding the rest of mankind as their slaves, thinking they had the power of life and death over those paupers. This was why he steered clear of them. Although sometimes even he felt this showed a tendency to hold aloof, at the same time he often suspected it of actually being an incapacity.




With all these demands for payment right and left, they managed to get by somehow. But compared with the past he was in such desperate straits that, quite apart from his servant and the tradesmen with whom he dealt,even Mrs. Fang gradually lost her respect for him. You could tell this just from her recent lack of compliance, the way she often put forward her own views, and her rather brash behaviour. When he arrived home before noon on the fourth of the fifth lunar month, she thrust a pile of bills under his nose—something quite unprecedented.

“A hundred and eighty dollars in all are needed to settle these.... Have you been paid? ” She asked without looking at him.

“Huh, tomorrow I shall resign my official post. Cheques have been issued, but the representatives of the Demand Payment Rally are hanging on to them. First they said none would be given to those who didn’t attend the rally, then said we must fetch them in person. Now that they’ve those cheques in their clutches, they’ve become like the King of Hell. I can’t stand the sight.... I don’t want the money, I shall quit my post, it’s just too humiliating....”

Mrs. Fang was rather astonished by this unusual display of indignation,but she quieted down.

“I still think you’d better fetch it. What does it matter?” She asked,looking him in the face.

“Not I! My official stipend, not charity! By rights the accountants’ office should send it over.”

“But suppose they don’t send it....Oh, last night I forgot to tell you. The children say the school keeps prodding them for their school fees. If they aren’t paid ...”

“Rubbish! I’m not paid for my work or for my teaching, why should they charge my sons for a bit of schooling?”

She felt he was being unreasonable, taking out his anger on her instead of on the school head. It was not worth arguing with him.










They ate their lunch in silence. He thought things over, then went out in a temper.

It had been his rule in recent years, the day before New Year or a festival not to come home till midnight, when he would walk in, groping in his pocket, and announce loudly,“Hey,I’ve got it!” Then, a complacent look on his face, he would give her a wad of brand-new bandnotes issued by the Bank of China or the Bank of Communications. But today, the fourth, he broke his rule, arriving home before seven. Mrs. Fang was most dismayed,thinking he had resigned; but stealing a glance at his face, she could not see that he looked particularly down on his luck.

“What’s up? ... So early? ...” She asked, eyeing him.

“Not issued, couldn’t get it. The banks are closed, have to wait until the eighth.”

“Did you go yourself?” She asked anxiously.

“That’s no longer necessary, they say it will still be sent over by the accountants’ office. But today the banks have already closed, for three days. Have to wait till the morning of the eighth.” He sat down, his eyes on the floor. After a sip of tea he went on slowly, “Luckily there’s no problem in the yamen, so I should be getting it for sure on the eighth.... It’s really troublesome trying to borrow from relatives and friends one’s not on good terms with. After lunch I swallowed my pride and called on Jin Yongsheng. We chatted for a while. First he praised me for not going to demand payment and refusing to fetch my pay, calling me most high-minded, a fine example to others. When he learned that I wanted a short-term loan of fifty yuan, he looked as if I’d stuffed his mouth with salt—every wrinkle on his face crinkled. He said he hadn’t been able to collect his rents, his business was losing money, and to go to fetch one’s salary from a colleague was nothing to worry about. He sent me packing.”

“In an emergency like this, who’s willing to lend money?” Said Mrs. Fang mildly and impassively.

Fang Xuanchuo hung his head, feeling hardly able to blame Jin Yongsheng, especially as they were not on terms. Then he recalled an incident last New Year’s Eve, when a fellow provincial had asked for a loan of ten yuan. He had manifestly received his cheque from the yamen, but for fear this man might fail to pay him back he pretended to be in difficulties,saying that he could not get his official stipend and the school had not paid his salary, so much as he would like to help he could not. He sent him away empty-handed. Though he had not seen the expression he had assumed then, he now felt put out. His lips quivering, he shook his head.









Before long, however, as if suddenly seeing the light, he ordered the servant to go out at once and get him a bottle of Lotus-Flower White on credit. The storekeeper, he knew, was hoping he would settle his bills tomorrow, so probably wouldn’t dare to refuse him credit. If he did, then not a cent would he get the next day—he deserved to be penalized.

The Lotus-Flower White was duly bought on credit. After two cups his pallid face flushed, and after supper he was in fairly high spirits. He lit a Hatamen cigarette, and picked up from the table a copy of An Experimental Collection, then lay on the bed to read it.

“Well, how to cope with the tradesmen tomorrow?” Mrs. Fang, who had pursued him, was standing in front of the bed looking into his face.

“The tradesmen?... Tell them to come in the afternoon of the eighth.”

“I can’t do that. They wouldn’t believe me, wouldn’t be willing.”

“Why shouldn’t they believe you? They can ask around. Nobody in the yamen will be paid until the eighth.” Under the mosquito net he sketched a semi-circle with his forefinger. Mrs. Fang saw the semi-circle, saw his hand continue leafing through the book.

Seeing him so unreasonably overbearing, she could say no more for the time being.

Finally, hitting on a different approach, she said, “I don’t see how we can go on this wretched way. You must think of some way out in future,find something else to do.”

“What way out? I can’t be a copyist or join a fire-brigade. What else can I do?”

“Didn’t you write for that bookshop in Shanghai?











“That bookshop in Shanghai? They pay by the word, not by the page. Look at all the blank spaces in that volume of vernacular poems I wrote. I’m afraid it’ll only fetch three hundred dollars. And for half a year I’ve had no word about royalties. Distant water can’t put out a nearby fire. Just have to lump it.”

“Well then, write for the papers here.”

“The papers? I’ve a student who edits one of the biggest of them. But even as a favour, he can’t pay me more than a few dollars per thousand words. If I worked from morning till night, how could I keep you all?Besides, I haven’t so much to write about. ”

“Well, after the festival, what then?”

“After the festival?—I’ll go on being all official.... When the tradesmen ask for money tomorrow, just put them off till the afternoon of the eighth.”

He picked up his book again. Afraid to miss this chance, Mrs. Fang faltered:

“I think, after the festival, on the eighth, we’d ... better buy a lottery ticket.... ”

“Rubbish! How can you talk in that uneducated way....”

This suddenly reminded him of what had happened after Jin Yongsheng had sent him packing. Dejectedly passing Dao Xiang Cun he noticed an advertisement in big characters on the shop door: “First Prize Tens of Thousands of Yuan.” He had been tempted, he seemed to recall, and may have slowed down; but as if unwilling to part with the last sixty cents in his wallet, he had in the end gone resolutely on his way. His face changed colour. Mrs. Fang, supposing him annoyed by her lack of education, made haste to withdraw without having had her say out. Fang Xuanchuo, not having had his say out either, stretched and started intoning the poems in An Experimental Collection.












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