一、作家简介

  池莉,女,1957年出生,湖北武汉人。1974年高中毕业,为下放知青;1976年就读于冶金医学院,1979年毕业,任职于武钢卫生处防疫站医生。1983年参加成人高考,入武汉大学中文系成人班,就读于汉语言文学专业,1987年毕业,任武汉市文联《芳草》编辑部文学编辑。1990年调入武汉文学院,为专业作家。1995年,任文学院院长。2000年,任武汉市文联主席。2007年当选湖北省文联副主席。2007年被评为武汉大学第五届杰出校友。

  1980年开始发表作品。著有小说《来来往往》《所以》《不谈爱情》《太阳出世》《烦恼人生》《你是一条河》《生活秀》《有了快感你就喊》《看麦娘》《她的城》等,散文集《怎么爱你也不够》《熬至滴水成珠》《立》等。主要作品见诸《池莉经典文集》(9卷)。《烦恼人生》获全国优秀中篇小说奖、《小说月报》百花奖等,《心比身先老》获首届"鲁迅文学奖",作品获《人民文学》《上海文学》《当代》《十月》等刊物奖及湖北"屈原文学奖"、湖北"金凤文艺奖"等各类奖项80余次。是"新写实小说"的代表作家。

  二、作品梗概

  半夜里,四岁的儿子雷雷从床上掉到了地上,印家厚和老婆都惊醒过来。印家厚利索地给儿子包扎伤口,老婆借机发泄,责怪他没本事弄到房子。印家厚体会到,所谓家,就是一架平衡木,他和老婆摇摇晃晃在平衡木上保持平衡。早上,印家厚在拥挤的卫生间排队洗漱、上厕所,然后煮牛奶、催儿子起床。而后,他带着儿子赶公交车去。憔悴的老婆充满牵挂地目送着这父子俩。

  公交车十分拥挤,印家厚不小心碰了一位姑娘,被误认为是有意摸人家,被骂作流氓。儿子雷雷代印家厚反击,被姑娘踢了一脚,边哭边给了那姑娘一记清脆的耳光。姑娘哭了。印家厚却不能和儿子同样高兴。在轮渡上,女同事帮忙喂儿子吃早餐,印家厚看人打牌,与人谈诗。他伏在船舷上吸烟,心中和江水一样茫茫苍苍。

  上了岸,印家厚匆匆吃了凉面和油条,再赶公交,又把儿子送到厂幼儿园,然后跑步到车间,结果还是迟到了一分半钟。印家厚在卷取车间当操作工。他操作的是日本进口的机械手。他为自己的工作感到自豪。今天车间开会评奖金。因厂办严禁在评奖中搞“轮流坐庄”,这个月该印家厚轮到的一等奖三十元泡汤了。尽管四月份大检修,没有人比他干得更苦的了。可是为了避开“轮流坐庄”的嫌,车间把他推到了最低层:三等奖五元钱。尴尬的局面中,女徒弟雅丽为他解了围。

  一起去吃午饭的路上,亮丽纯真的雅丽对他说:“我不想出师,印师傅,我想永远跟随你。” 印家厚一番心理挣扎后,假装听不懂雅丽的话。雅丽伤心流泪,印家厚硬着心肠走开。 印家厚在小白菜里吃出了半条青虫。他找食堂管理员论理。管理员用打发一个要饭化子的态度对待印家厚,印家厚将饭菜底朝天扣进了他白围裙胸前的大口袋里。

  午饭后,印家厚到幼儿园看儿子,发现年轻的幼儿园阿姨长得跟自己的初恋对象十分相似。印家厚吃惊之余,顷刻之间感到深深的忧郁。他走出幼儿园,奔跑到一个无人的破仓库里,抹去了眼角的泪。 印家厚到副食品店看黑市茅台。他谋划要给父亲和老丈人买酒祝寿,可是一打听酒价只好走开了。知青伙伴下江南路过武汉,赶不及看他,给他寄了一封信。信中怀念起知青时代的许多美好故事,并问他为什么与聂玲分手。看着信,酸甜苦辣都涌上印家厚的心头。少年的梦总是有着浓厚的理想色彩,可是现在印家厚明白他只是个普通的男人。

  下午厂长找印家厚问他对日本人的看法,原来是有人栽赃印家厚说他抵制与日本人的联欢。澄清了这个问题后,领导就安排印家厚组织联欢团体,可他又被几个年轻姑娘叫做汉奸。下午,印家厚还把刚领到的五块钱奖金都以各种形式捐了出去。

  下班印家厚带儿子回家。轮渡上,雷雷把冰淇淋上的巧克力涂在了一个小男孩的鼻子上。父子俩被男孩母亲臭骂了一顿。

  在疲惫中回到家,老婆已经做好可口的饭菜了。饭后,印家厚到公共卫生间洗碗,听说所住的这栋楼要拆迁。其实,老婆也已经知道这个坏消息了,只是不想让他烦心才没有立即告诉他。老婆告诉她,姑妈、表弟要到武汉来玩,她只好在屋中间拉一个帘子,准备一起住几天。至于,拆迁后住哪里,那么,夫妻俩只好互相安慰说:“车到山前必有路,船到桥头自然直。”

  三、推荐语

  《烦恼人生》发表于《上海文学》1987年第8期,是“新写实小说”的代表作。

  作者以一种平和、温馨、同情、幽默、赞许的叙事口吻书写现实,给人以真实感和时代感。同时作品摆脱了以往歌颂或批判的模式,只是以一个有过平凡人生深切体验的普通人的姿态和情感,平平静静、切切实实地展现着既充满烦恼与艰涩又充满意趣与欢愉的人生;透过纷乱、琐屑的原生态生活表象揭示其丰富的内涵。

  主人公印家厚作为工人的代表人物,对工作充满自豪感,但他一天的生活内容就是从早到晚不停地奔忙。印家厚在这种无暇喘息的奔忙中显得渺小、无奈、孤立无援、处处受制约,始终置于生活的困窘和烦恼之中,无法主宰生活中的一切。随着空间的不断转换,他不断地变换着父亲、丈夫、儿子、邻居、工人、情人、女婿、乘客、拆迁户等身份。他的烦恼,既是生计的烦恼,也是生命的烦恼;既是属于他个人的,也是社会的。作者从印家厚的烦恼中,感受到了人类某些共通的困扰。那单调的、漫长的、周而复始的人生之路,那生命力点点滴滴无可奈何的耗损,是当今这个特定社会历史时期人们所难以超越和摆脱的。

  惟其如此,人物那善良的心地,那烦恼中并不放弃的追求,才显得实实在在,既让人深思,也让人感动。

 

Trials and Tribulations of Life

  Chi Li

  Author’s profile

  Female writer Chi Li is a native of Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province. She was born in 1957. Upon graduating from high school, she was sent to the countryside as an educated youth for rehabilitation. In 1976 she attended the Metallurgy Medical School to further her study. She graduated in 1979 and secured a job working as a doctor at the Epidemic Prevention Center under the Health Division affiliated to Wuhan Steel Corporation Ltd. In 1983 she passed the college entrance examination for continued higher education for adults in Hubei province and was enrolled into an adults class at the Chinese Department of Wuhan University. From there she graduated in 1987 and sought a new job as an editor at the editing department of Fang Cao (Scented Grass), a literary journal sponsored by the Literature and Arts Association of Wuhan (LAAW). In 1990 she moved on to work at Wuhan University as a professional writer. In 1995 she worked as the Dean of the School of Chinese Language and Literature. In 2000 she acted as Chair of the LAAW. In 2007 she was elected Vice Chair of Hubei Provincial Literature and Arts Association, and in the same year she was elected one of Wuhan University’s Outstanding Alumni.

  She cut her teeth in writing in 1980. Her published stories include Comings and Goings, Therefore, No Talking of Love, The Birth of the Sun, Trials and Tribulations of Life, You Are a River, Life Show, Just Cry When You Are Experiencing Orgasm, Visiting Mum Wheat, The City of Hers, and many more. She has also published collections of essays that include I Cannot Love You More, Waiting until Water Droplets Turn Into Pearls, and Erected. Her major works can be found in A Classical Collection of Chi Li’s Works (nine volumes in all). She has won many laurels and awards for her brilliant work. Trials and Tribulations of Life won the National Best Novelette Award and the Novel Monthly’s One Hundred Flower Award (a nationally renowned journal specifically devoted to selecting and publishing novels). Mind Ages Faster Than Heart won the first Lu Xun Literary Award. On top of these awards, she has also received many other literary ones conferred by journals of national note such as People’s Literature, Shanghai Literature, The Contemporary, October, Hubei Qu Yuan Literary Award, Hubei Golden Wind Literary Award, and many others. Her awards add up to 80 in all. Moreover, she is a representative of the persuasion of Neo-realistic Writing in China.

  Synopsis

  One midnight, Yin Jiahou and his wife both wake up startled and notice that their four-year-old son Lei Lei has fallen off the bed and down onto the ground. Yin Jiahou very swiftly and deftly wraps up his son’s wound. His wife, however, takes this accident out upon him, scolding him as an inept man for being unable to come by a house. Yin Jiahou feels that the so-called home turns out to be a balanced beam upon which he and his wife keep a balance while rocking and rolling. The next morning he queues outside of the crowded bathroom, waiting for his turn to wash his face, brush his teeth, and wash his hands. Then he heats the milk and presses his son to get up. Shortly afterwards, he hurries his son to catch the bus, with his jaunty wife lingering at the door seeing them off wistfully.

  The bus is terribly congested and Yin Jiahou accidentally bumps into a girl who mistakes him to be deliberately fumbling her body. She therefore curses him as a cad. Talking back for his father, Lei Lei gets kicked by the girl. While crying out, he gives a clean slap back to the girl who, in turn, screams. Yin Jiahou cannot get as delighted as his son from the revenge. On the ferry ship his female colleague is helping feed his son breakfast while he himself is watching others play cards and discussing poems. He rests his body on the side rail of the ship, smoking, with his mind as muddy and muddled as the waters of the Yangtze River.

  Having disembarked onto the bank, Yin Jiahou finishes eating his cold noodles and deep-fried dough sticks hastily, and then catches the bus to send his son to kindergarten. After that he runs to his workshop. As it turns out, he is one and a half minutes late for work. He works as an operator in a batching workshop, and the machine he operates is a manipulator imported from Japan. He takes much pride in his job and today his workshop will hold a meeting to select the person who will be entitled to get the bonus. Since the Corporation’s administrative office bans the practice of “everyone gets his bonus in rotation”, when it comes to recommending a bonus-receiver, his turn to get the first-tier bonus worth of 30 yuan will definitely flop. Although there was a great overhaul in April and nobody sweated more and worked harder more than him, to avoid being labeled as practicing the rotation rule his workshop gives him the lowest-tier bonus. That’s the third-tier one worth of 5 yuan, which is less than one US dollar! He becomes inexorably embarrassed by the situation and his apprentice Ya Li comes to his rescue. On their way to lunch at the factory’s canteen, the pure and shiny Ya Li says to him, “I don’t want to end my apprenticeship, Master Yin. I just want to follow you forever!” Struggling mentally for quite a while, he pretends not to have noticed her words. Instead he hardens his heart and goes off, leaving Ya Li heartbroken with tears on her face. In the course of eating lunch, Yin Jiahou finds half of a cabbage worm in the cabbage dish. He goes to the manager of the canteen for explanation but only gets treated very abruptly by him in the way he does with a beggar. In response Yin Jiahou turns the plate full of rice and cabbage upside down, dumping them into the big chest pocket on the front of his white apron. After lunch Yin Jiahou gets back to the kindergarten to have a look at his son, only to find that the head of the kindergarten very much resembles his first love in appearance. Flabbergasted he, in an instant, gets deeply gloomy. Going out of the kindergarten he races to a lonely and neglected warehouse where he wipes tears off the corners of his eyes. He then underhandedly goes to a food store to see how the liquor branded Mao Tai sells there. He has a scheme in mind to buy the liquor to celebrate the anniversaries of his father and his father-in-law with. Upon learning the price, however, he goes away immediately. His fellow companion Jiang, with whom he got acquainted with when in the countryside as an educated youth for rehabilitation, goes down to the south and passes Wuhan on-route. Being too busy to visit him he writes Yin a letter, recalling many fond memories in it and even asking him why he parted company with Nie Ling, his first love. When he is reading the letter, the whole gamut of emotions, from bitterness, sweetness, sourness to pungency, surges into his heart. True then that the dream in his younger days were coated with a heavy idealistic color, but now he understands that he is none other than a very ordinary man.

  In the afternoon the director of the factory asks Yin Jiahou for his opinion on Japanese. The reason behind this is that a rumor about him has been cooked up that he is going against a get-together with the Japanese that the factory plans to sponsor. After clearing up this rumor, he then is assigned the task by the leader to organize groups of people to take part in the get-together. For this, he is cursed by several girls from the factory as a “Traitor to China”. Moreover, in the afternoon he donates all of his five-yuan bonus, which he has freshly received in various forms.

  After work he takes his son back home. On the ferry ship Lei Lei coats the nose of a little boy with the chocolate of his ice cream, and for this, father and son alike, were skinned clean by the boy’s mum.

  They get back home very fatigued. But the delicious food prepared by his wife is awaiting them. After supper, Yin Jiahou goes to the common bathroom within the building to wash dishes. There he learns that the building where they are now living will be demolished. In fact, his wife has already learned this dispiriting news too. It is because she does not want him to get upset for this that she has not told him. His wife now tells him that her aunt and cousin will come and travel in Wuhan and that she has to use a curtain to separate the room into two parts, so that they can stay here for a couple of days. As for where to reside when the demolishing is under way, they have nothing to do but comfort each other by saying, “A road must lie ahead when the chariot reaches the mountain, the boat will naturally straighten itself when it comes to the bridge head, there is no need to worry at all beforehand.”

  Reviews

  Trials and Tribulations of Life, published in the 8th issue of Shanghai Literature in 1987, is a work representing the school of Neo-realistic Writing in China. In a mild, heartening, sympathetic, humorous, and approving tone, the writer portrays a kaleidoscopic reality, giving the impression that the reality is real, well, and alive, thereby conveying a sense of situatedness. The novelette is also a break from the conventional writing mold of having either lauding or critiquing leaning. It presents a life full of troubles and trials, joys and delights, with all and everything being endured by a downright ordinary person every day from his ordinary posture towards life, to his ordinary feelings arising out of the life he is living calmly and peacefully. It unveils in a rude and raw way the layered meanings of life through its chaos, ennui, and trifles.

  As a representative of the working class in China, the protagonist Yin Jiahou takes pride in his job. However, his daily routine is fully occupied from morning to night by endless engagements, making him not only feel insignificant and merely resign himself to life, but also leaving him stranded and restrained everywhere by unfailing predicaments and troubles of life. These are to the extent to which he is totally unable to get his own destiny under control. With the shifting of space comes the change of his social identity from father to husband to son, from neighbor to worker to lover to son- in-law, from passenger to owner of a house to be demolished, and so on. His troubles and tribulations are at once about sustenance in particular and about life in general. They are his individual troubles as well as the large society’s. Through Yin Jiahoues case the author succeeds in making readers sense the common trifles suffered by humanity and by large. That is, it is unlikely for us humans at this particular historical epoch to transcend and overcome that monotonous, endless, and repeated cycle of life that, albeit tiny, ruthlessly exhausts our life. It is against such backdrop that the protagonist’s kindness and his undaunted and never failing pursuit amid trials and tribulations that make themselves a solid and authentic presence, which set us contemplating over life itself and striking the sympathetic chord in our heart.

 

 作者 | 北京语言大学教授 李玲

  译者 | 徐海铭

  审校 | Kevin


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