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(中英)现代散文:吹牛的妙用 The Wonderful Use of Boasting

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2019年04月24日

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The Wonderful Use of Boasting

吹牛的妙用

◎ Lu Yin

◎ 庐 隐

Boasting is a kind of megalomania. Though moralists may call it a human failing, it does, however, serve extremely useful purposes in social intercourse. Without the capability for boasting, you will be looked down upon by even a rickshaw puller, to say nothing of finding a good job.

吹牛是一种夸大狂,在道?#24405;?#30475;来,也许认为是缺点①,可是在处世?#28216;?#19978;?#35789;?#19968;种刮刮叫的妙用②。假使你这一生缺少了吹牛的本领,别说好饭碗?#20063;?#21040;,便连黄包车夫也不放你在眼里的。

Because of their earnest and down-to-earth approach to work, Westerners are, in the eyes of Chinese smarties, next door to idiotic. They are being laughed at by Chinese smarties for the tremendous amount of energy they put into their activities. While Westerners go about whatever work they do methodically and patiently, never dreaming of reaching great heights in one step, we Chinese are always given to seeking a shortcut and regard the ability to boast as the master key to it.

西洋人究竟近乎白痴③,什?#35789;?#37117;只讲究脚踏实地去作,这样费力气的?#21561;保?#25105;们聪明的中国人④,简直连牙齿?#23478;?#31505;掉了。西洋人什?#35789;?#37117;讲究按部就班的慢慢来,从来没有平地登天的捷径,而我们中国人专门走捷径,而走捷径的第一个法?#29275;?#23601;是善吹牛。

Boasting is an essential art of life just as hyperbole is an indispensable rhetorical figure. The Tang poet Li Bai's famous lines "The Yellow River comes from the sky" and "My white hair of thirty thousand feet" are examples of hyperbole, which, to those who know little about the art of rhetoric, may sound like a gross exaggeration on the part of the poet.

吹牛是一件不可看轻的艺术,就如修辞学上不可缺少“张喻”一类的东西一样。像李太?#36164;?#20040;⑤“黄河之水天上来”,又是什么“白发三千丈”,这在修辞学上就叫作“张喻”,而在不懂修辞学的人看来,就觉?#32654;?#22826;白在吹牛了。

That boasting is of extremely great use to one is beyond doubt. Man is a queer animal. Suppose you tell someone the plain truth about a certain matter without holding anything back, he will probably laugh at you scornfully instead of returning a congenial response. On the other hand, suppose, penniless as you are, you brag unabashedly to somebody who knows little about you, "Minister So-and-So is a good friend of my father's," "Politician So-and-So is my grandpa's sworn brother," "I know a certain business tycoon very well," or "My wife is a nominally adoptive sister of a certain warlord's fifth concubine." The listener will adore you like a deity or may even, at an opportune moment, respectfully treat you to a big dinner featuring edible bird's nest!

而且?#23548;?#19978;?#36947;矗?#21561;牛对于一个人的确有极大的妙用。人类这个东西,就有这么奇怪,无论什?#35789;攏?#20320;若老老实实的把实话告诉他,不但不能激起他共鸣的情绪⑥,而?#19968;?#35201;轻蔑你冷笑你,假使你见?#22235;?#25720;不清你根底的人,你不管你家里早饭的?#36164;?#24403;了被褥换?#21561;蘑擼?#20320;只要大言不惭的说“某部长是我父亲的?#38376;?#21451;,?#30196;?#23458;是我拜把子的叔公,我认得某某巨商,我的太太同某军阀的第五位太太是干姐妹”,吹起这一套法螺来,那摸不清你的人,便贴贴服服的向你合十顶礼,说不定碰?#20204;?#36824;恭而且?#21561;那?#20320;大吃一顿燕菜席呢⑧!

People of every description, being aware of the usefulness of boasting, are doing all they can to put it into practice. But wait a minute! You've got to know enough about the person you are boasting to. Otherwise, you'll make a bungle of it and fail to touch a chord in his or her heart. Suppose you meet an unknown writer or a young student who worships men of letters and you want to pretend to be a senior, all you have to say is that Hu Shih is a close friend of yours or that Yu Dafu is your second self. And, what is better, you can try to find out by a roundabout way some trifling personal anecdotes about the two celebrities, such as what Hu Shih best likes to know and what Yu Dafu strongly dislikes, so that you can refer to them affectionately by their first names. Consequently, you'll end up becoming a personage on a par with both of them, and enjoying the respect of all.

吹牛有了如许的好处,于是无论那一类的人,都各尽其力的大吹其牛了。但是且慢!吹牛也要认清对手方面的。不然的话必难打动他或她的心弦,那么就失掉吹牛的功效了。比如?#30340;?#35265;了一个仰慕文人的无名作?#19968;?#23398;生时,而你自己要自充老前辈时,你不用说别的,只要说胡适是我极熟的朋友,郁达夫是我最好的知己⑨,最妙你再转弯抹角的去探听一些关于胡?#35270;?#36798;夫琐碎的佚事,比如说胡?#39318;?#21916;听什么,郁达夫最讨厌什么,于是便可以亲亲切切的叫着“适之怎样怎样,达夫怎样怎样”,这样一来,你便也就成了胡?#35270;?#36798;夫同等的人物,而被人所尊敬了。

When you meet a girl who is vain, just tell her that you have toured to various countries, such as Turkey and South Africa, ... and at your own expense into the bargain! That suffices to prove you are not only a man of much learning and experience but also well-to-do. And you will thereby win her heart instantly.

如果你遇见一个好虚荣的女?#24189;兀?#20320;就可以?#30340;?#21608;游过列国,到过土耳其?#25103;?#27954;!并?#19968;故亲?#36153;去的⑩,这样一来就可以证明你不但学识阅历丰富,并?#19968;故?#36164;产阶级?。于是乎你的恋爱便立刻成功了?。

When you meet a businessman, bureaucrat, politician or warlord, you can, after gathering each and every mood of them, start boasting wildly to cater to their likes. To sum up, you should brag about women to those who are fond of women, about money to those who are money-mad, about fame to those who are desirous of personal fame, and about power to those who hanker after a position of great influence. Like combating poison with poison, this trick will always work wonders.

他如遇见商贾、官僚、政客、军阀,都不妨察言观色?,投其所好,大吹而特吹之,总而言之,好色者以色吹之,?#32654;?#32773;以利吹之,好名者以名吹之,好权势者以权势吹之,此所谓以?#31455;?#27602;之法,无往而不利。

Yes, bragging is of great use, but you need to be very skillful in the performance of it, otherwise you'll give away the show and end up in a complete fiasco.

或曰吹牛妙用虽大,但也要善吹,否则揭穿西洋镜,便没有戏可唱了。

And to be good at bragging, you also need a considerable amount of training. You should first of all be thick-skinned. For instance, although you have never authored a single book, you can nevertheless brazenly declare, "I've published a great many books, but unfortunately they've all been destroyed by a big fire!" When you are entertaining some stylish guests at dinner, you can, for appearances' sake, refer to the table set you have just bought for the occasion by saying, "We've been using it for as long as ten years." When your friends invite you to join them in a mahjong game, you, though worth only one silver dollar in your pocket, can tell them, "All my money is in a bank. I've no time today to go there to draw money." If your wife happens to complain you're sort of good for nothing, you can tell her that the eldest daughter of a certain Zhang family has been admiring you for the excellent poems you write and the daughter-in-law of a certain Wang family has been admiring you for being handsome and manly. That will make your wife instantly redouble her love for you.

这当然是实话,并且吹牛也要有相当的训练,第一要不红?#24120;?#20320;虽从来没有著过一本半本的书,但不妨咬紧?#26639;?说:“我的著作等身,只可恨被一把野火烧掉了!”你家里因为要请几个漂亮的客人吃饭,现买了一副碗碟,你便可以说:“这些东西十年前就有了,”以表示你并不因为请客受窘?。假如你荷包里只剩下一块大洋?,朋友要邀你坐下来入圈,你就可以说:“我的钱都放在银行里,今天竟匀不出工夫去取!”假如那天你的太太感觉你没多大出息?时,你就可以说张家大小姐说我的诗作的好,王家少奶奶说我脸子漂亮而有丈夫气,这样一来太太便立刻加倍的爱你了。

I could thus go on and on enumerating various manifestations of self-praise!

这一些吹牛经,说不胜说。

《吹牛的妙用》是庐隐的后期作品,选自她的《东京小品》(散文、短篇小说、杂文合集,1935年版)。庐隐的杂文短小精悍、直爽坦率、笔锋锐利,此文也有?#20174;场?#21561;牛往往是为了兜售“伪劣”。作者在半个多世纪以前以揶揄的口气所鞭挞的社会痼疾,今仍随处可见,知识界也不例外。


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