Stale Mates--Eileen Chang
|小船上，兩個男子兩個女郎對坐在淡藍布荷葉邊平頂船篷下。膝前一張矮桌，每人面前一只茶杯，一撮瓜子，一大堆菱角殼。他們正在吃菱角，一只只如同深紫紅色的嘴唇包著白牙。||Two men and two girls in a boat sat facing each other on wicker seats under the flat blue awning. Cups of tea stood on the low table between them. They were eating ling, water chestnuts about the size and shape of a Cupid's-bow mouth. The shells were dark purplish red and the kernels white.|
|“密斯周今天好時髦！”男子中的一個說。稱未嫁的女子為“密斯”也是時髦。||'Missu Zhou is very stylish today,' one of the men said. It was also stylish to address girls as 'Miss'.|
|密斯周從她新配的眼鏡后面狠狠地白了他一眼，扔了一只菱角殼打他。她戴的是圓形黑框平光眼鏡，因為眼睛并不近視。這是一九二四年，眼鏡正入時。交際明星戴眼鏡，新嫁娘戴藍眼鏡，連咸肉庄上的妓女都戴眼鏡，冒充女學生。||Miss Zhou glared at him through her new spectacles and threw a ling shell at him. Her glasses had round black rims and perfectly flat lenses, as she was not nearsighted. The year was 1924, when eyeglasses were fashionable. Society girls wore them. Even streetwalkers affected glasses in order to look like girl students.|
|兩個男子各自和女友并坐，原因只是這樣坐著重量比較平均。難得說句笑話，打趣的對象也永遠是朋友的愛人。||Each of the men sat with his own girl because the little boat balanced better this way than if the two girls sat side by side. The pale green water looked thick and just a little scummy, and yet had a suggestion of lingering fragrance like a basin of water in which a famous courtesan had washed her painted face.|
|The girls were around twenty - young for high school in those days when progressive women of all ages flocked to the primary schools. Miss Zhou was much admired for her vivacity and boldness as being typical of the New Woman, while Miss Fan's was the beauty of a still life. She sat smiling a little, her face a slim pointed oval, her long hair done in two round glossy black side knobs. She wore little make-up and no ornaments except a gold fountain pen tucked in her light mauve tunic. Her trumpet sleeves ended flaring just under the elbow.|
|兩個青年男子中，身材較瘦長的一個姓羅，長長的臉，一件淺色熟羅長衫在他身上挂下來，自有一種飄然的姿勢。他和這姓郭的朋友同在沿湖一個中學里教書，都是以教書為借口，借此可以住在杭州。擔任的鐘點不多，花晨月夕，盡可以在湖上盤桓。兩人志同道合，又都對新詩感到興趣，曾經合印過一本詩集，因此常常用半開玩笑的口吻自稱“湖上詩人”，以威治威斯與柯列利治自況。||The young men were Luo and Wen. Luo was tall and thin. His pale turquoise long gown hung well on him in a more literal sense than when the phrase was applied to Westerner's clothes. He taught in the same school as Wen. They both owned land in their home village and taught school in Hangzhou merely as an excuse to live by the West Lake, where every scenic spot was associated with the memory of some poet or reigning beauty.|
|The four had been meeting almost daily for more than a year. They would go out on the lake, have dinner at one of the restaurants along the shore, and go boating again if there was a moon. Somebody would read Shelley aloud and the girls held hands with each other when they felt moved. Always there were four of them, sometimes six but never two. The men were already married - a universal predicament. Practically everybody was married and had children before ever hearing of love. Wen and Luo had to be content with discussing the girls interminably between themselves, showing each other the girls' carefully worded letters, admiring their calligraphy, analyzing their personalities from the handwriting. Love was such a new experience in China that a little of it went a long way.|
|小船駛入一片荷葉，洒黃點子的大綠碟子磨著船舷嗤嗤響著。隨即寂靜了下來。船夫與他的小女兒倚在槳上一動也不動，由著船只自己漂流。偶爾聽見那湖水噗的一響，仿佛嘴里含著一塊糖。||They sailed into a patch of yellowing lotus leaves, the large green plates crunching noisily against the boat. Then there was silence. The boatman and his little daughter were resting on their oars, letting the boat drift. Now and then the water made a small swallowing sound as if it had a piece of candy in its mouth.|
|“這禮拜六回去不回去？”密斯范問。||'Going home this weekend?' Miss Fan. asked.|
|“這次大概賴不掉，”羅微笑著回答。“再不回去我母親要鬧了。”||'I suppose I can't get out of it this time,' Luo answered smiling. 'My mother has been complaining.'|
|她微笑。他盡管推在母親身上，事實依舊是回到妻子身邊。||She smiled. The mention of his mother did not alter the fact that he was going back to his wife.|
|Lately Luo had been feeling increasingly guilty about going home, while Miss Fan had allowed her resentment to become more manifest before and after each visit.|
|“我下了個決心，”羅突然望著湖低聲說。然后，看她并沒有問他是什么決心，他便又說，“密斯范，你肯不肯答應等我？也許要好些年。”||'I have made a decision,' he said in a low voice, looking at her. Then, when she did not ask him what it was, he said, 'Miss Fan, will you wait for me? It might take years.'|
|她低下了頭，扭過身去，兩手卷弄著左邊的衣角。||She had turned away, her head bent. Her hands played with the lower left corner of her slitted blouse, furling and unfurling it.|
|當天她并沒有吐口同意他離婚。但是那天晚上他們四個人在樓外樓吃飯，羅已經感到這可以說是他們的定情之夕，同時覺得他已經獻身于一種奮斗。那天晚上喝的酒，滋味也異樣，像是寒夜遠行的人上路之前的最后一杯酒。||Actually she did not agree to his getting a divorce until days later. But that evening, when the four of them dined at a restaurant famous for its lake fish, Luo already felt pledged and dedicated. All the wine he drank tasted like the last cup before setting out on a long hard journey on a cold night.|
|樓外樓的名稱雖然詩意很濃，三面臨湖，風景也確是好，那菜館本身卻是毫不講究外表，簡陋的窗框，油膩膩的舊家具，堂館向樓下廚房里曼聲高唱著菜名。一盤熗蝦上的大玻璃罩揭開之后，有兩只蝦跳到桌上，在醬油碟里跳出跳進，終于落到密斯范身上，將她那淺色的襖上淋淋漓漓染上一行醬油跡。密斯周尖聲叫了起來。在昏黃的燈光下，密斯范紅著臉很快樂的樣子，似乎毫不介意。||The restaurant was called the Tower Beyond Towers. It leaned over the lake on three sides. Despite the view and its poetic name it was a nonchalantly ugly place with greasy old furniture. The waiter shouted orders to the kitchen in a singsong chant. When the glass dome was lifted from the plate of live shrimp, some of the shrimp jumped across the table, in and out of the sauce dish, and landed on Miss Fan, trailing soya sauce down the front of her blouse. Miss Zhou squealed. In the dingy yellow electric light Miss Fan looked flushed and happy and did not seem to mind at all.|
did not go home until the Saturday after that. The journey took two hours by
train and wheelbarrow His wife looked sheepish as her mother-in-law loudly
and ostentatiously excused her from various duties because her husband was
home. She was wearing a short blue overall with the red satin binding of a
silk tunic showing underneath it. She had not been sure that he would be
He spoke to her that night about divorce. She cried all night. It was terrible, almost as if a judge were to sleep in the same bed with a condemned man. Say what he might, he knew he was consigning her to dishonorable widowhood for the rest of her life.
|“我犯了七出之條哪一條？”她一面憤怒地抽噎著，一面盡釘著他問。||'Which of the Seven Out Rules have I violated?' she kept asking through angry sobs. Ancient scholars had named the seven conditions under which a wife might justifiably be evicted from her husband's house.|
|第二天他母親知道了，大發脾氣，不許再提這話。羅回到杭州，從此不再回家。他母親托他舅舅到杭州來找他，百般勸說曉諭。他也設法請一個堂兄下鄉去代他向家里疏通。托親戚辦交涉，向來是耽誤時候，而且親戚代人傳話，只能傳好話，決裂的話由他們轉達是靠不住的，因為大家都以和事佬自居，尤其事關婚姻。拆散人家婚姻是傷陰騭損陽壽的。||His mother flew into a rage on being told. She would not hear of it. Luo went back to Hangzhou and stopped coming home altogether. His mother got his uncle to go up to Hangzhou and talk him out of his foolishness. He in turn managed to persuade a cousin to go and talk to his family. It took infernally long to negotiate through relatives who were, furthermore, unreliable transmitters of harsh words, being peacemakers at heart, especially where matrimony was concerned. To break up a marriage is a cardinal sin that automatically takes ten years off a man's given life span.|
|羅請律師寫了封措辭嚴厲的信給他妻子。家里只是置之不理，他妻子娘家人卻氣得揎拳擄臂，說：“他們羅家太欺負人。當我們張家人都死光了？”恨不得興師動眾打到羅家，把房子也拆了，那沒良心的小鬼即使不在家，也把老太婆拖出來打個半死。只等他家姑奶奶在羅家門框上一索子吊死了，就好動手替她復仇。但是這事究竟各人自己主張，未便催促。||Luo got a lawyer to write his wife an alarmingly worded request for divorce. His wife's family, the Zhangs, boiled over with rage. Did he think his wife was an orphan? Not all the Zhangs were dead. True, they could not revenge themselves on the faithless man unless his wife were to hang herself on his lintel. That would place his life and property entirely at their mercy. But it was not for them to recommend such a step to her.|
|鄉下一時議論紛紛，都當作新聞來講。羅家的族長看不過去，也說了話：“除非他一輩子躲著不回來，只要一踏進村口，馬上綁起來，到祠堂去請出家法來，結結實實打這畜生。 鬧得太不像話！”||The head of the Luo clan was moved to speak. The old man threatened to invite the Family Law out of its niche and beat the young rascal in the ancestral temple. 'Family Law' was a euphemism for the plank used for flogging.|
Fan and Luo continued to see each other in the company of Wen and Miss Zhou.
Their friends were delighted and exhilarated by the courage of this
undertaking though it did put Wen in a difficult position, even if Miss Zhou
was never openly reproachful. It now appeared as though the wistfulness that
was part of the beauty of their relationship was not one of those things
that couldn't be helped.
Luo was only home once in two years. They were difficult years for both the mother and daughter-in-law. They began to get on each other's nerves. There was an unwritten law that a wife could never be divorced once she had worn mourning white and the ramie scarf of mourning for a parent-in-law. So the old lady got the idea that her daughter-in-law wished for her death. It would certainly settle the divorce problem. But the old lady swore she would see the younger woman out of the house vertically before she made her own exit horizontally.
Outwardly the divorce negotiations had not gained much ground in six years.
Miss Fan's family never did approve. Now they kept reminding her that at
twenty-six she was becoming an old maid. Soon she would not even qualify for
tianfang—room filler, a wife to fill up a widower's empty room. It seemed to
her family that Luo was only waiting to have her on his own terms.
It was doubtful whether he was seriously trying to get a divorce. Possibly alimony was the stumbling block. There were those who said he was actually quite poor. What little he had must have dwindled away through his long absence from home, with his estate left in the hands of an estranged wife. There had been some unpleasantness over the divorce question at the school where he was teaching. If he didn't depend on his job for a living, why didn't he resign?
|密斯周背地里告訴郭，說有人給密斯范做媒，對象是一個開當鋪的，相親那天，在番菜館同吃過一頓飯。她再三叮囑郭君守秘密，不許告訴羅。||Miss Zhou told Wen confidentially that Miss Fan had been out to dinner with a pawnbroker, chaperoned by members of her family and a lady matchmaker. Wen was not to tell Luo.|
|郭非常替羅不平，結果還是告訴了他。但是當然加上了一句。“這都是她家里人干的事。”||In his indignation Wen told Luo anyway, though of course he added, 'It's all her family's doing.'|
didn't tie her up with a rope and drag her to the restaurant, did they?' Luo
He promised not to take up the matter with her immediately as that would betray the source of his information.
that evening Luo drank too much rice wine when they dined at the Tower
Beyond Towers which had the lake on three sides. 'Congratulations, Missu
Fan!' he said. 'I hear you are going to invite us to your wedding feast.' He
drained his cup and strode off angrily.
Miss Fan refused to join them that next day. Luo's letters were returned unopened. A week later Miss Zhou reported that Miss Fan had again been dining with the pawnbroker. Everything was settled; the man had given her a big diamond engagement ring.
|羅的離婚已經醞釀得相當成熟，女方漸漸有了愿意談判的跡象。如果這時候忽然打退堂鼓，重又回到妻子身邊，勢必成為終身的笑柄，因此他仍舊繼續進行，按照他的諾言給了他妻子一筆很可觀的贍養費，協議離婚。然后他立刻叫了媒婆來，到本城的染坊王家去說親。王家的大女兒的美貌是出名的，見過的人無不推為全城第一。||Luo's divorce action had reached the point where it began to move through its own momentum. There were signs that his wife's side was now more ready to listen to reason. He would be a laughing-stock for the rest of his life if he were to return to his wife at this stage. So he went ahead with the divorce, giving his wife a generous settlement as he had promised. As soon as the decree was final he got a professional matchmaker to approach the Wangs of the dye works on his behalf. The eldest Wang girl was reported to be the prettiest girl in town.|
|交換照片之后，王家調查了男方的家世。媒婆極力吹噓，竟然給他說成了這頭親事。羅把田產賣去一大部分，給王家小姐買了一只鑽戒，比傳聞中的密斯范的那只鑽戒還要大。不到三個月，就把王小姐娶了過來。||After an exchange of photographs and due investigation, the Wangs accepted him. Luo sold a great part of his land and bought Miss Wang a diamond ring even bigger than the one Miss Fan was said to have got. He was married after three months.|
|密斯范的婚事不知為什么沒有成功。也許那當鋪老板到底還是不大信任新女性，又聽見說密斯范曾經有過男友，而且關系匪淺。據范家這邊說，是因為他們發現當鋪老板少報了几歲年紀。根據有些輕嘴薄舌的人說，則是事實恰巧相反──少報年紀是有的。||For some reason, Miss Fan's match did not come off. Maybe the pawnbroker had his doubts about modern girls and had heard something of Miss Fan's long attachment to Luo. According to the Fans it was because they had found out that the pawnbroker had falsified his age. Some malicious tongues had it that it was the other way around.|
|羅與密斯范同住在一個城市里，照理遲早總有一天會在無意中遇見。他們的朋友們卻不肯聽其自然發展。不知為什么，他們覺得這兩個人無論如何得要再見一面。他們并不是替羅打抱不平，希望他有機會飽嘗復仇的甜味﹔他們并不贊成他的草草結婚，為了向她報復而犧牲了自己的理想。也許他們正是要他覺悟過來，自己知道鑄成大錯而感到后悔。但也許最近情理的解釋還是他們的美感：他們僅只是覺得這兩個人再在湖上的月光中重逢，那是悲哀而美麗的，因此就是一樁好事，不能不促成他們。||In the natural course of things Luo would have run into Miss Fan sooner or later, living in the same town. But their friends were not content to leave it to chance. Somehow they felt it was important for them to meet again. It could not be that they wanted Luo to savor fully his revenge; they had disapproved of the way he had hit back at her at the expense of his own ideals. Maybe they wanted him to realize the mistake he had made and feel sorry. But perhaps the most likely explanation would be that they just thought it would be sad and beautiful-and therefore a good thing-for the two to meet once again on the lake under the moon.|
|一切都安排好了，只瞞著他們倆。有一天郭陪著羅去游夜湖──密斯周已經結了婚，不和他們來往了。另一只船上有人向他們叫喊。是他們熟識的一對夫婦。那只船上還有密斯范。||It was arranged without the knowledge of either of them. One night Luo was out on a boat with Wen-Miss Zhou was now married and not seeing them any more. Some people shouted at them from another boat. It was a couple they used to know. Miss Fan was with them.|
|兩船相并，郭跨到那只船上去，招呼著羅也一同過去。羅發現他自己正坐在密斯范對面。玻璃杯里的茶微微發光，每一杯的水面都是一個銀色圓片，隨著船身的晃動輕輕地搖擺著。她的臉與白衣的肩膀被月光鍍上一道藍邊。人事的變化這樣多，而她竟和從前一模一樣，一點也沒改變，這使他無論如何想不明白，心里只覺得恍惚。||When the two boats drew near, Wen stepped over to the other boat, urging Luo to come with him. Luo found himself sitting across the small table from Miss Fan. The tea in the cups shone faintly, in each cup a floating silver disk swaying slightly with the movement of the boat. Her face and white-clad shoulders were blue-rimmed with moonlight. It stunned him how she could look just the same when so much had happened.|
|他們若無其事地寒暄了一番，但是始終沒有直接交談過一句話。也沒有人提起羅最近結婚的事。大家談論著政府主辦的西湖博覽會，一致反對那屹立湖濱引人注目的丑陋的紀念塔。||They went through the amenities as if there were nothing amiss, but without directly addressing a single remark to each other. No reference was made to Luo's new marriage. The talk was mostly about the government-sponsored West Lake Exhibition and its ugly memorial that dominated the vista along the bank.|
|“俗不可耐。完全破壞了這一帶的風景，”羅嘆息著。“反正從前那種情調，以后再也沒有了。”||'It's an eyesore. Spoils everything,' Luo said. 'It will never be the same again.'|
|他的眼睛遇到她的眼睛，眼光微微顫動了一下，望到別處去了。||Her eyes met his, wavered a little, and looked away.|
|After going round the lake they landed and separated. The day after, Luo received a letter addressed to him in Miss Fan's handwriting. He tore it open, his heart pounding, and found a sheet of blank paper inside. He knew instantly what she meant. She had wanted to write him but what could she say?|
|他們舊情復熾的消息瞞不了人，不久大家都知道了。羅再度進行離婚。這次同情他的人很少。以前將他當作一個開路先鋒，現在卻成了個玩弄女性的壞蛋。||Soon it was no secret among their friends that they were again seeing a lot of each other. Luo again started divorce proceedings. This time he had very few sympathizers. He now looked like a scoundrel where he had once been a pioneer.|
|這次離婚又是長期奮斗。密斯范呢，也在奮斗。她斗爭的對象是歲月的侵蝕，是男子喜新厭舊的天性。而且她是孤軍奮斗，并沒有人站在她身旁予以鼓勵，像她站在羅的身邊一樣。因為她的戰斗根本是秘密的，結果若是成功，也要使人渾然不覺，決不能露出努力的痕跡。她仍舊保持著秀麗的面貌。她的發式與服裝都經過縝密的研究，是流行的式樣與回憶之間的微妙的妥協。他永遠不要她改變，要她和最初相識的時候一模一樣。然而男子的心理是矛盾的，如果有一天他突然發覺她變老式，落伍，他也會感到驚異與悲哀。她迎合他的每一種心境，而并非一味地千依百順。他送給她的書，她無不從頭至尾閱讀。她崇拜雪萊，十年如一日。||It was another long struggle. On her part Miss Fan was also engaged in a struggle. Hers was against the forces of the years, against men's very nature which tires so easily. And in her struggle she had nobody to stand by her side as she stood by Luo. She remained quietly pretty. Her coiffure and clothes were masterpieces of subtle compromise between fashion and memory. He never wanted her to look any different from the way she did when he had first known her. Yet he would have been distressed if it had suddenly occurred to him that she looked dated. She fell in with all his moods without being monotonously pliant. She read all the books he gave her and was devoted to Shelley.|
|王家堅決地反對離婚。和平解決辦不到，最后還是不能不對簿公庭。打官司需要花錢﹔法官越是好說話，花的錢就更多。前后費了五年的工夫，傾家蕩產，總算官司打贏，判了離婚。手邊雖然窘，他還是在湖邊造了一所小白房子，完全按照他和密斯范計划著的格式，坐落在他們久已揀定了的最理想的地點，在幽靜的里湖。鄉下的房子，自從他母親故世以后，已經一部分出租，一部分空著。新房子依著碧綠的山坡，向湖心斜倚著，踩著高蹺站在水里。牆上爬滿了深紅的薔薇，紫色的藤蘿花，絲絲縷縷倒挂在月洞窗前。||He finally had to fight it out in the courts with his wife's family. The Wangs were adamant against divorce. Lawsuits were expensive, especially when judges proved to be tractable. Luo got his divorce at the end of five years. Though in reduced circumstances, he had built a small white house exactly the way Miss Fan and he had planned it, on a site they had chosen long ago. He had closed down his old house in the country after his mother's death. Their new home was on stilts, leaning out of the green hills right over the lake. Climbing roses and wisteria trailed over the moon window.|
|新婚夫婦照例到親戚那里挨家拜訪，親戚照例留他們吃飯，打麻將。羅知道她是不愛打麻將的。偶爾敷衍一次，是她賢慧，但是似乎不必再約上明天原班人馬再來八圈。她告訴他她是不好意思拒絕，人家笑她恩愛夫妻一刻都離不開。||The newlyweds paid routine visits to relatives. They were usually pressed to stay for dinner and play mahjong. Luo had never known her to be fond of the game. He told his wife it was good of her to comply but there was no need to keep it up all night and promise to come back for more the next day. She answered that people teased her into it, saying she could not bear to be away from her bridegroom a single minute.|
|She complained of living so far out. When she came back late from her mahjong parties she often had difficulty finding a rickshaw puller willing to take her home. When she was not out playing mahjong she lounged about in soiled old gowns with torn slits and frayed frogs. Half the time she lay in bed cracking watermelon seeds, spitting the shells over the bedclothes and into her slippers on the floor. His hints at taking more interest in her appearance were at first ignored. Then she flared up and said his fussiness was unmanly. 'No wonder you never get anywhere.'|
|羅在朋友的面前還要顧面子，但是他們三天兩天吵架的消息恐怕還是傳揚了出去，因為有一天一個親戚向他提起王小姐來，仿佛無意中閑談，說起王小姐還沒有再嫁。“其實你為什么不接她回來？”||Luo did his best to keep up a good front. Still he supposed that news of their quarrels got about, because one day a relative mentioned casually to him that Miss Wang had not yet remarried. 'Why don't you ask her to come back?'|
|Luo shook his head sadly. He needed some persuasion, but of course he knew that the Wangs would agree that this was the best way out, much as they hated him. The family's good name would suffer if their daughter took a second husband.|
wife, the former Miss Fan, did not hear of the matter until all arrangements
had been made. Despite scenes and threats of suicide, the day Miss Wang
returned to him escorted by members of the Wang family she was there to
receive them and play hostess at the small informal celebration. She
addressed Miss Wang's brother and sister-in-law as 'Brother' and
'Sister-in-law'. She apologized for the dinner. 'It's difficult for us to
get a good cook, living so far away from the market. Terribly inconvenient.
Else I would have made him fetch back your young lady long ago. Of course
she ought to come and live here. One can't be staying with parents all the
time.' Miss Wang did not speak, since she was almost a bride.
No agreement had been reached as to the mode of address between the two women, who were understood to be of equal status. They were merely referred to as 'That of the House of Fan' and 'That of the House of Wang' behind each other's back.
|此后不久，就有一個羅家的長輩向羅說：“既然把王家的接回來了，你第一個太太為什么不接回來？讓人家說你不公平。”||Not long afterward an elder of Luo's clan spoke to him. 'I see no reason why you shouldn't ask your first wife to come back. It would only be fair.'|
|羅也想不出反對的理由。他下鄉到她娘家把她接了出來，也搬進湖邊那蓋滿了薔薇花的小白房子里。||Luo could not think of any valid objection either. He went down to the country where she was living with her family, and brought her back to the rose-covered little house by the lake.|
|他這兩位離了婚的夫人都比他有錢，因為離婚時候拿了他一大筆的贍養費。但是她們從來不肯幫他一個大子，盡管他非常拮據，憑空添出許多負擔，需要養活三個女人與她們的佣仆，后來還有她們各人的孩子，孩子的奶媽。他回想自己當初對待她們的情形，覺得也不能十分怪她們。只是“范家的”不斷在旁邊冷嘲熱諷，說她們一點也不顧他的死活，使他不免感到難堪。||Both of his ex-wives were much richer than he was after the divorce settlements. But they never helped him out, no matter what straits he got into from providing for three women and their squabbling servants and later their children. He could not really blame them, taking everything into consideration. He would not have minded it so much if 'That of the House of Fan' did not taunt him continually about the others' lack of feeling for him.|
|現在他總算熬出頭了，人們對于離婚的態度已經改變，種種非議與嘲笑也都已經冷了下來。反而有許多人羨慕他稀有的艷福。這已經是一九三六年了，至少在名義上是個一夫一妻的社會，而他擁著三位嬌妻在湖上偕游。難得有兩次他向朋友訴苦，朋友總是將他取笑了一番說：“至少你們不用另外找搭子。關起門來就是一桌麻將。”||And now that he had lived down the scandal and ridicule, people envied him his yeng fu, glamorous blessings extraordinary in an age that was at least nominally monogamous, for it was already 1936 living with three wives in a rose-covered little house by the lake. On the rare occasions when he tried to tell somebody he was unhappy, the listener would guffaw. 'Anyhow,' the friend would say, 'there are four of you just right for a nice game of mahjong.'|
北京青年报 张爱玲《五四遗事》中的“五四”话题 2014.08.24
《五四遗事》在张爱玲的作品中不是太引人注目，被人提及的不多，她自己谈论的也少。这个短篇的英文本发表在1956年9月20日纽约THE REPORTER双周刊，3又1/3页码，题名Stale Mates，后来收入《续集》时，在《自序》中附注“《老搭子》”。中文本刊在1957年1月20日夏济安主编的台北《文学杂志》第一卷第五期，8000 字，题名则是《五四遗事》。
自作自译是当时张爱玲的常态，1952年离开大陆到香港，在港三年，她是受美国新闻署资助进行写作的，《秧歌》和《赤地之恋》都是先有英文本再有中文本。1955年底赴美后，她首要的目标是在英美文学界能够生存，Pink Tears（《粉泪》）选择以往创作中最富戏剧张力的《金锁记》为基础进行扩张，大概是有她的考虑，不过失败了，十年后则自译为《怨女》。相对而言，Stale Mates篇幅短小，想必她并未期待能靠这个引起注意，更像是插空之作。
这样的议论在张爱玲那儿是极为罕见的，将胡适喻为先知摩西，其背景是当时大陆的胡适大批判，因而对“五四”有这样的议论。1955年11月张到美国，至翌年2月在纽约停留，同胡适有过几次见面。随后约半年就有了《五四遗事》的英文版，不到一年又有了汉文版。严格地说，在这部小说中，张爱玲对“五四”所带来的自由恋爱，也就是Love Came to China并不否定，只是带着嘲讽的语气描写当年的做派。小说重心在于Love这个东西进入中国环境后的变异，被拖回了传统。诚所谓播下龙种，收获跳蚤。这有点类似她对新文艺的看法，七十年代初接受水晶访问（《蝉—夜访张爱玲》），在被问及鲁迅时她有这样的议论：
张爱玲1955年底到美国，翌年3月结识赖雅 Rehyer，8月14日就结了婚，与过去的生活一撅两段。而9月20日Stale Mates就刊出了，像是结婚的纪念品，随后就是汉文本的《五四遗事》。Stale Mates的副标题A Short Story Set in the Time When Love Came to China，无论如何是个必要的存在，用以解释小说的意旨。到汉文本就无需了，不过汉文本又另起了一个奇怪的副标题：《罗文涛三美团圆》。