一对活宝-Good Omens 读后

看完了Ursula LeGuin的地海系列,开始看自己书单上列了很久的Neil Gaiman. American Gods很好,虽然节奏有点慢,但是很特别很美国。接下来看Neverwhere,节奏就快了很多,也更合我的心意。故事设定非常巧妙,非常喜欢。Gaiman的想象力真是玄妙。Neverwhere也让我对伦敦的地铁和伦敦的历史更加有兴趣了。

按照Zeze给的书单,接下来看的Good Omens简直让我乐不可支。很久很久没有看到这么好玩的书和人物了。常常看得我放声大笑!自从韦小宝之后我就没有再见过这么生动有趣的一对活宝:天使Aziraphale和魔鬼Crowley。Good Omens是Neil Gaiman和Terry Pratchett联手写的。我一直试图弄清楚Aziraphale和Crowley这两个角色是哪个作者写的。对于号称是Terry主写的书中的主角们(Antichrist和他的小集团等等)我反而兴趣缺缺。所有看到的作者访谈问答,Neil和Terry对此都三缄其口,说是两人都有份。

小说有一个人物表,其中对Aziraphale和Crowley的设定也很有趣。

SUPERNATURAL BEINGS
Aziraphale (An Angel, and part-time rare book dealer)
Crowley (An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards)

天使与魔鬼
Aziraphale (天使,业余兼职二手书店店主,主攻珍稀图书)
Crowley (堕落天使,其实与其说他堕落不如说他慢慢溜达下去的)

这两个人都被派驻在人间,一个为天堂做事,一个为地狱服务。一起工作了六千年了。他们都很喜欢二十世纪的人间。虽然两人应该是敌人,但是一起工作了六千年,就不由自主变成朋友了。

The car he was driving was a 1926 black Bentley, one owner from new, and that owner had been Crowley. He’d looked after it.
The reason he was late was that he was enjoying the twentieth century immensely. It was much better than the seventeenth, and a lot better than the fourteenth. One of the nice things about Time, Crowley always said, was that it was always taking him steadily further away from the fourteenth century, the most bloody boring century on God’s, excuse his French, Earth. The twentieth century was anything but boring.

【恶魔】Crowley开一辆1926年黑色宾利。此车从一出厂就只有一个主人,Crowley, 一直被精心保养。
Crowley迟到的原因是因为他太喜欢二十世纪了。二十世纪比十七世纪好多了,比十四世纪好得更多。Crowley的口头禅之一就是时间最好的特性就是它坚持不懈的把Crowley带离十四世纪,把十四世纪抛得远远的。十四世纪是上帝的地球上最他x无聊的(抱歉说脏话了)世纪。二十世纪就没有一个无聊的时刻。

Aziraphale collected books. If he were totally honest with himself he would have to have admitted that his bookshop was simply somewhere to store them. He was not unusual in this. In order to maintain his cover as a typical second-hand book seller, he used every means short of actual physical violence to prevent customers from making a purchase. Unpleasant damp smells, glowering looks, erratic opening hours – he was incredibly good at it.
【天使】Aziraphale 收集图书。实话说他开书店的真正目的是有个地方放他的图书收藏。他并非与众不同。与其他典型二手书商一样,他想方设法阻止顾客买走他书店里任何一本书。难闻的旧书潮味,给顾客脸色看,不规律的开门时间 --他都做得超级出色。

后面写到Crowley的公寓也很搞笑。除了典型雅痞的家具装潢电视等等,还提到他公寓里长的超级繁盛的植物。

In fact the only things in the flat Crowley devoted any personal attention to were the houseplants. They were huge and green and glorious, with shiny, healthy, lustrous leaves.
This was because, once a week, Crowley went around the flat with a green plastic plant mister, spraying the leaves, and talking to the plants.
He had heard about talking to plants in the early seventies, on Radio Four, and thought it an excellent idea. Although talking is perhaps the wrong word for what Crowley did.
What he did was put the fear of God into them.
More precisely, the fear of Crowley.
In addition to which, every couple of months Crowley would pick out a plant that was growing too slowly, or succumbing to leaf-wilt or browning, or just didn’t look quite as good as the others, and he would carry it around to all the other plants. “Say goodbye to your friend,” he’d say to them. “He just couldn’t cut it…”
Then he would leave the flat with the offending plant, and return an hour or so later with a large, empty flower pot, which he would leave somewhere conspicuously around the flat.
The plants where the most luxurious, verdant, and beautiful in London. Also the most terrified.
整个公寓里Crowley真正稍微花了心血的是那些盆栽植物。 它们长得巨大繁茂,有着闪亮健康光泽的叶子。
那是因为每个礼拜Crowley拿个喷水瓶,给它们的叶子喷水,而且跟植物们说话。
七十年代第四电台有个节目里提到要跟盆栽植物说话,Crowley觉得这个主意不错。不过严格来讲Crowley做的其实不是跟植物“说话”。
他其实是用恶魔Crowley的威严来震撼它们。
另外,每两个月,Crowley就会选一盆植物,也许因为它长得太慢,也许是有蔫掉的叶子,或者有黄掉的叶子,甚至只是没有其他植物那么健壮而已。他会带着这盆植物在其他所有盆栽面前走一圈,一边走一边说,“跟你的朋友说再见,”他告诉其他盆栽们,“它实在是不上道。。。”
然后他会带着那个倒霉蛋离开公寓,一个多小时后带回来一个空花盆,然后把那空花盆放在公寓里最显眼的地方。
他的盆栽是全伦敦最茂盛葱郁健康的盆栽。也是全伦敦唯一被吓傻了的盆栽。

然后呢就是世界末日要来了。天使和魔鬼都很郁闷。因为他们太喜欢现在的人间,不想它被毁掉。可是和战士一样,作为天使和魔鬼他们没有自由选择的权利。而天堂和地狱都非常看好“世界末日”这个节目,全力以赴要它发生。魔鬼Crowley就想法子要说服天使和他一起把“世界末日”这个计划给破坏掉。天使Aziraphale没有魔鬼Cowley这么多花花肠子,是个守规矩的好孩子。所以Cowley就搜肠刮肚想把Aziraphale说服。

“We’ll win, of course,” he said.
“You don’t want that,” said the demon.
“Why not, pray?“
“Listen,” said Crowley desperately, “how many musicians do you think your side have got, eh? First grade, I mean.”
Aziraphale looked taken aback.
“Well, I should think-” he began.
“Two,” said Crowley. “Elgar and Liszt. That’s all. We’ve got the rest. Beethoven, Brahms, all the Bachs, Mozart, the lot. Can you imagine eternity with Elgar?”

“我们肯定会赢。”天使说。
“你才不要赢呢。”魔鬼说。
“为什么?”
“听着,”Crowley有点绝望的说,“你们天堂那边有多少音乐家?第一流的?嗯?”
天使吃了一惊。“嗯,我想。。。”他刚开口。
“两个,”Crowley插嘴,“埃尔加和李斯特。就他俩。其他都是我们这边的:贝多芬,勃拉姆斯,巴赫一家子,莫扎特,所有人。你能想象永远只听埃尔加么?”

然后有一段超级经典的对白,恶魔跟天使说如果天堂赢了,那他们就要永远反复只能看“音乐之声”那部电影,因为天堂没有啥品味。而且再也没有寿司餐馆了。这个结论终于让天使明白他不能接受世界末日的结果。决定和恶魔Cowley合作。

书里还有很多其他很经典的句子,大意都差不多。

It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.
人间历史大多数的惨烈悲剧或者伟大胜利其实都跟人之初性本善或者性本恶无关,因为它们的发生都不过是因为人之为人而已。