Selected from Class Picture
by Tobias Wolff
- translated by JQZ
The New Yorker Jan. 6, 2003
“诚然，自认为是有史以来最肩负重任，或最不幸，最好，最坏，最NB的一代，有何不可？但是你要知道，自古以来，所有的人都是这样想的。说归齐，那不过是给各种各样的懒惰习惯找了个冠冕堂皇的借口罢了。”(注：最喜欢的就是这最后一句，'it makes a grand excuse for all manner of laziness.')
The headmaster...told us that Mr. Frost had agreed to take a few questions, if we had any.[snip]
Your work, sir, Mr. Ramsey said, follows a certain tradition, shall we say, a formal tradition, as in that last poem you read,...[snip]...The question is whether such a rigidly formal arrangement of language is adequate to express the modern consciousness.
Modern consciousness, Frost said. What's that?
Ah! Good question, sir. Well --very roughly speaking, I would describe it as the mind's response to industrialization, ...[snip]... two world wars, the concentration camp, the dimming of faith by science, and, of course, the constant threat of annihilation. Surely theswe things have had an effect on us. Surely they have changed our thinking.
Surely nothing. Frost said. He stared down at Mr. Ramsey. Don't tell me about science, ...[snip]...he said, and don't tell me about war. I lost my nearest friend in the one they call the Great War. So did Achilles lose his friend in war, and Homer did no injustice to his grief by writing about it in dactylic hexameters. There've always been wars, and they've always been as foul as we could make them. It is very fine and pleasant to think ourselves the most put-upon folk in history, but then everyone has thought that from the beginning--it makes a grand excuse for all manner of laziness.