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马丁·伊登(MARTIN EDEN)第二十八章

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But success had lost Martin's address, and her messengers no longer came to his door. For twenty-five days, working Sundays and holidays, he toiled on "The Shame of the Sun," a long essay of some thirty thousand words. It was a deliberate attack on the mysticism of the Maeterlinck school - an attack from the citadel of positive science upon the wonder-dreamers, but an attack nevertheless that retained much of beauty and wonder of the sort compatible with ascertained fact. It was a little later that he followed up the attack with two short essays, "The Wonder-Dreamers" and "The Yardstick of the Ego." And on essays, long and short, he began to pay the travelling expenses from magazine to magazine.

During the twenty-five days spent on "The Shame of the Sun," he sold hack-work to the extent of six dollars and fifty cents. A joke had brought in fifty cents, and a second one, sold to a high- grade comic weekly, had fetched a dollar. Then two humorous poems had earned two dollars and three dollars respectively. As a result, having exhausted his credit with the tradesmen (though he had increased his credit with the grocer to five dollars), his wheel and suit of clothes went back to the pawnbroker. The type- writer people were again clamoring for money, insistently pointing out that according to the agreement rent was to be paid strictly in advance.

Encouraged by his several small sales, Martin went back to hack- work. Perhaps there was a living in it, after all. Stored away under his table were the twenty storiettes which had been rejected by the newspaper short-story syndicate. He read them over in order to find out how not to write newspaper storiettes, and so doing, reasoned out the perfect formula. He found that the newspaper storiette should never be tragic, should never end unhappily, and should never contain beauty of language, subtlety of thought, nor real delicacy of sentiment. Sentiment it must contain, plenty of it, pure and noble, of the sort that in his own early youth had brought his applause from "nigger heaven" - the "For-God-my- country-and-the-Czar" and "I-may-be-poor-but-I-am-honest" brand of sentiment.

Having learned such precautions, Martin consulted "The Duchess" for tone, and proceeded to mix according to formula. The formula consists of three parts: (1) a pair of lovers are jarred apart; (2) by some deed or event they are reunited; (3) marriage bells. The third part was an unvarying quantity, but the first and second parts could be varied an infinite number of times. Thus, the pair of lovers could be jarred apart by misunderstood motives, by accident of fate, by jealous rivals, by irate parents, by crafty guardians, by scheming relatives, and so forth and so forth; they could be reunited by a brave deed of the man lover, by a similar deed of the woman lover, by change of heart in one lover or the other, by forced confession of crafty guardian, scheming relative, or jealous rival, by voluntary confession of same, by discovery of some unguessed secret, by lover storming girl's heart, by lover making long and noble self-sacrifice, and so on, endlessly. It was very fetching to make the girl propose in the course of being reunited, and Martin discovered, bit by bit, other decidedly piquant and fetching ruses. But marriage bells at the end was the one thing he could take no liberties with; though the heavens rolled up as a scroll and the stars fell, the wedding bells must go on ringing just the same. In quantity, the formula prescribed twelve hundred words minimum dose, fifteen hundred words maximum dose.

Before he got very far along in the art of the storiette, Martin worked out half a dozen stock forms, which he always consulted when constructing storiettes. These forms were like the cunning tables used by mathematicians, which may be entered from top, bottom, right, and left, which entrances consist of scores of lines and

dozens of columns, and from which may be drawn, without reasoning or thinking, thousands of different conclusions, all unchallengably precise and true. Thus, in the course of half an hour with his forms, Martin could frame up a dozen or so storiettes, which he put aside and filled in at his convenience. He found that he could fill one in, after a day of serious work, in the hour before going to bed. As he later confessed to Ruth, he could almost do it in his sleep. The real work was in constructing the frames, and that was merely mechanical.

He had no doubt whatever of the efficacy of his formula, and for once he knew the editorial mind when he said positively to himself that the first two he sent off would bring checks. And checks they brought, for four dollars each, at the end of twelve days.

In the meantime he was making fresh and alarming discoveries concerning the magazines. Though the TRANSCONTINENTAL had published "The Ring of Bells," no check was forthcoming. Martin needed it, and he wrote for it. An evasive answer and a request for more of his work was all he received. He had gone hungry two days waiting for the reply, and it was then that he put his wheel back in pawn. He wrote regularly, twice a week, to the TRANSCONTINENTAL for his five dollars, though it was only semi- occasionally that he elicited a reply. He did not know that the TRANSCONTINENTAL had been staggering along precariously for years, that it was a fourth-rater, or tenth-rater, without standing, with a crazy circulation that partly rested on petty bullying and partly on patriotic appealing, and with advertisements that were scarcely more than charitable donations. Nor did he know that the TRANSCONTINENTAL was the sole livelihood of the editor and the business manager, and that they could wring their livelihood out of it only by moving to escape paying rent and by never paying any bill they could evade. Nor could he have guessed that the particular five dollars that belonged to him had been appropriated by the business manager for the painting of his house in Alameda, which painting he performed himself, on week-day afternoons, because he could not afford to pay union wages and because the first scab he had employed had had a ladder jerked out from under him and been sent to the hospital with a broken collar-bone.

The ten dollars for which Martin had sold "Treasure Hunters" to the Chicago newspaper did not come to hand. The article had been published, as he had ascertained at the file in the Central Reading-room, but no word could he get from the editor. His letters were ignored. To satisfy himself that they had been received, he registered several of them. It was nothing less than robbery, he concluded - a cold-blooded steal; while he starved, he was pilfered of his merchandise, of his goods, the sale of which was the sole way of getting bread to eat.

YOUTH AND AGE was a weekly, and it had published two-thirds of his twenty-one-thousand-word serial when it went out of business. With it went all hopes of getting his sixteen dollars.

To cap the situation, "The Pot," which he looked upon as one of the best things he had written, was lost to him. In despair, casting about frantically among the magazines, he had sent it to THE BILLOW, a society weekly in San Francisco. His chief reason for submitting it to that publication was that, having only to travel across the bay from Oakland, a quick decision could be reached. Two weeks later he was overjoyed to see, in the latest number on the news-stand, his story printed in full, illustrated, and in the place of honor. He went home with leaping pulse, wondering how much they would pay him for one of the best things he had done. Also, the celerity with which it had been accepted and published was a pleasant thought to him. That the editor had not informed him of the acceptance made the surprise more complete. After waiting a week, two weeks, and half a week longer, desperation conquered diffidence, and he wrote to the editor of THE BILLOW, suggesting that possibly through some negligence of the business manager his little account had been overlooked.

Even if it isn't more than five dollars, Martin thought to himself, it will buy enough beans and pea-soup to enable me to write half a dozen like it, and possibly as good.

Back came a cool letter from the editor that at least elicited Martin's admiration.

"We thank you," it ran, "for your excellent contribution. All of us in the office enjoyed it immensely, and, as you see, it was given the place of honor and immediate publication. We earnestly hope that you liked the illustrations.

"On rereading your letter it seems to us that you are laboring under the misapprehension that we pay for unsolicited manuscripts. This is not our custom, and of course yours was unsolicited. We assumed, naturally, when we received your story, that you understood the situation. We can only deeply regret this unfortunate misunderstanding, and assure you of our unfailing regard. Again, thanking you for your kind contribution, and hoping to receive more from you in the near future, we remain, etc."

There was also a postscript to the effect that though THE BILLOW carried no free-list, it took great pleasure in sending him a complimentary subscription for the ensuing year.

After that experience, Martin typed at the top of the first sheet of all his manuscripts: "Submitted at your usual rate."

Some day, he consoled himself, they will be submitted at MY usual rate.

He discovered in himself, at this period, a passion for perfection, under the sway of which he rewrote and polished "The Jostling Street," "The Wine of Life," "Joy," the "Sea Lyrics," and others of his earlier work. As of old, nineteen hours of labor a day was all too little to suit him. He wrote prodigiously, and he read prodigiously, forgetting in his toil the pangs caused by giving up his tobacco. Ruth's promised cure for the habit, flamboyantly labelled, he stowed away in the most inaccessible corner of his bureau. Especially during his stretches of famine he suffered from lack of the weed; but no matter how often he mastered the craving, it remained with him as strong as ever. He regarded it as the biggest thing he had ever achieved. Ruth's point of view was that he was doing no more than was right. She brought him the anti- tobacco remedy, purchased out of her glove money, and in a few days forgot all about it.

His machine-made storiettes, though he hated them and derided them, were successful. By means of them he redeemed all his pledges, paid most of his bills, and bought a new set of tires for his wheel. The storiettes at least kept the pot a-boiling and gave him time for ambitious work; while the one thing that upheld him was the forty dollars he had received from THE WHITE MOUSE. He anchored his faith to that, and was confident that the really first-class magazines would pay an unknown writer at least an equal rate, if not a better one. But the thing was, how to get into the first-class magazines. His best stories, essays, and poems went begging among them, and yet, each month, he read reams of dull, prosy, inartistic stuff between all their various covers. If only one editor, he sometimes thought, would descend from his high seat of pride to write me one cheering line! No matter if my work is unusual, no matter if it is unfit, for prudential reasons, for their pages, surely there must be some sparks in it, somewhere, a few, to warm them to some sort of appreciation. And thereupon he would get out one or another of his manuscripts, such as "Adventure," and read it over and over in a vain attempt to vindicate the editorial silence.

As the sweet California spring came on, his period of plenty came to an end. For several weeks he had been worried by a strange silence on the part of the newspaper storiette syndicate. Then, one day, came back to him through the mail ten of his immaculate machine-made storiettes. They were accompanied by a brief letter to the effect that the syndicate was overstocked, and that some months would elapse before it would be in the market again for manuscripts. Martin had even been extravagant m the strength of those on ten storiettes. Toward the last the syndicate had been paying him five dollars each for them and accepting every one he sent. So he had looked upon the ten as good as sold, and he had lived accordingly, on a basis of fifty dollars in the bank. So it was that he entered abruptly upon a lean period, wherein he continued selling his earlier efforts to publications that would not pay and submitting his later work to magazines that would not buy. Also, he resumed his trips to the pawn-broker down in Oakland. A few jokes and snatches of humorous verse, sold to the New York weeklies, made existence barely possible for him. It was at this time that he wrote letters of inquiry to the several great monthly and quarterly reviews, and learned in reply that they rarely considered unsolicited articles, and that most of their contents were written upon order by well-known specialists who were authorities in their various fields.

但是成功女神弄丢了马丁的地址,她的使者再也不上马丁的门了。他辛辛苦苦写了二十五天,完成了一篇专门攻击梅特林克的神秘主义学派的论文:《太阳的耻辱》,大约有三万字,假日和星期日也没有休息,从实证科学的高度抨击了奇迹梦想者,但并未波及与确切的科学事实并不矛盾的许多美感经验与奇迹。以后不久他又写了两篇短文:《奇迹梦想者》和《自我的尺度》,继续进行攻击。于是他又开始为论文付旅费,把它们往一家一家杂志寄出。

在写作《太阳的耻辱》的二十五天里,他的一些下锅之作又卖了六块五毛钱。一个笑话给了他五毛,另一篇投给一个高级滑稽周刊,赚来了一元,还有两首俏皮诗,分别得到两元和三元。结果是,在一些商家拒绝赊欠之后他的自行车和见客服装又回到当铺里去了,同时他在杂货铺的赊欠能力却提高到了五元。打字机店的人又在吵着要他交费了,说要严格照合同办事,要求预付租金。

几篇下锅之作卖掉,马丁受到鼓舞,又写起这类东西来。说不定可以靠它维持生活呢!报纸小故事供稿社退回的那二十来篇小故事还塞在桌子底下,他又翻出来读了一遍,想找出写作失败的原因。他从其中研究出了一个可靠的公式。他发现报纸小故事不能是悲剧,必须有大团圆结局;语言不必美,思想不必细致,感情也不必微妙,但一定要有感情,而且要丰富,要纯洁高贵,要是他少年时在剧院廉价座位上为之大喝其彩的那种感情——那种“为了上帝、祖国和国王”的感情,“穷归穷,要穷得志气”的感情。

有了这些必备知识,马丁又参考了《公爵夫人》杂志,学着它的调子,按照药方如法炮制,那药方包含三个部分:(1)一对情人生生被拆散;(2)两人因某一行为或事件而言归于好;(3)婚礼钟声。第三部分是一个不变量,第一、二部分可以变化无穷。比如两人拆散的原因可以是对对方动机的误解;可以是命运的意外;可以是妒忌;可以是父母的反对,监护人的狡猾,亲戚的干扰,如此等等。两人的团圆可以是由于男方的英勇行为;女方的英勇行为;一方的回心转意;狡猾的监护人或蓄意破坏的亲戚或情敌被迫承认错误;某种意外机密的发现;男方激动了女方的感情;情人做了长期的高贵的自我牺牲,或诸如此类,可以变化无穷。在双方团圆的过程中由女方追求更为动人,马丁一点一滴地发现了许多能吊人胃口、引人入胜的窍门;但结尾时的婚礼钟声是绝对不能更改的,哪怕天空像卷轴一样卷了起来,星星漫天散落,婚礼的钟声也必须响起。这个公式是写一千二百到一千五百字的小故事的诀窍。

研究小故事写作技巧后不久,马丁搞出了华打固定的模式,常常用来作编写参考。这些模式像巧妙的数学表格,可以从上面、下面。左面。右面切入,每道人口都有几十个横栏,几十个坚栏,从这些表格里不需要思考或推理就可以推导出千千万万不同的结果,每一个结果都准确可靠,经得起推敲。这样,使用了他的表格,不要半个小时便可以勾勒出几十个小故事的轮廓。他把它们放到一边,等那天严肃的工作结束,要上床了,闲空了,再填充完成。后来他还向露丝坦白,说他几乎连睡着了也能写出那样的东西来。真正的工作是设计轮廓;而设计轮廓是机械的工作。

他毫不怀疑他那公式的效率。这时他第一次明白了编辑的心理。他对自己肯定说他寄出去的头两篇作品准会带给他支票。果然,十二天之后支票来了,每篇四元。

与此同时他还对杂志有了惊人的新发现。《跨越大陆》虽然发表了他的《钟声激越》,却老不寄支票来。马丁需要钱,写信去问,回信却避而不谈,反而要他寄别的作品。因为等回信他已经饿了两天肚子,只好把自行车也送进了当铺。尽管回信很少,他每月仍固定发两封信,向《跨越大陆》讨那五块钱。他并不知道《跨越大陆》已经多年风雨飘摇,是个四流杂志,十流杂志,没有根基,发行量很不稳定,部分地靠小小的恐吓,部分地靠爱国情绪和几乎是施舍性的广告维持。他也不知道《跨越大陆》是编辑和经理的唯一饭碗,而他们挤出生活费用的办法就是搬家以逃避房租和躲掉一切躲得掉的开支。他也不知道他那五块钱早给经理挪用去油漆他在阿拉密达的房子了——那是利用上班日的下午自己油漆的,因为他付不起工会所规定的工资,也因为他雇佣的第一个不按规定要价的工人从梯子上掉下来,摔断了肩胛骨,送进了医院。

马丁·伊登卖给芝加哥新闻的《探宝者》的稿酬也没有到手。他在中央阅览室的文件里查明,作品已经发了,但是编辑一个字也没有写给他。他写信去问,仍然没有人理。为了肯定他的信已经收到,他把几封信寄了挂号。他的结论是:对方的做法简直就是抢劫——冷血的强盗。他在挨饿,而他们却还偷他的东西,抢他的货物——而卖货物换面包是他唯一的生路。

《青年与时代》是一个周刊,发表了他那二万一千字的连载故事的三分之二便倒闭了,得到那十六块钱的希望也就随之破灭。

最糟糕的是,他自认为是最佳作品之一的《罐子》也失掉了。原来他在绝望中,气急败坏地向各杂志乱投递时,把它寄给了旧金山的社交周刊《波涛》。他那样寄,是因为从奥克兰只需要过了海湾就能到达,很快就可以得到回音。两周以后他却喜出望外地在报摊发现:他的作品全文刊载在那个杂志最新一期的显要位置,而且配了插图。他心里怦怦跳着回到家里,盘算着他这最好的作品能得到多少报酬。那作品接受很快,出版迅速,令他很高兴。编辑们连通知都没来得及便发表了,这份惊喜更让他踌躇满志。他等待了一周,两周,又等待了半周,铤而走险战胜了胆小畏怯,他给《波涛》的编辑写了一封信,暗示说也许业务经理出于大意,把他那笔帐忽略了。

他想,即使不到五块钱,也还能买到足够的黄豆和豌豆熬汤,让他再写出六七篇那样的作品,说不定跟那一篇同样好呢。

编辑回了一封冷冰冰的信,可它至少也能令马丁佩服。

那信说:“尊稿早收到。谨谢赐稿,我部同人对该稿皆至为欣赏,并立即以显要地位刊登,想早奉清览。其插图谅能邀先生青睐。

“拜读来翰,先生似有所误会,以为我处对未约写之稿亦付稿酬。按,我处实无此规定,而尊稿显然未经约写,此事收稿时以为先生所素知也。对此不幸误会,同仁等深以为憾,谨对先生再申敬佩之忱,并致谢意。短期内如能再赐大作则更幸甚,专此奉复……”

下面还有一则附言,说《波涛》虽不赠阅,仍很乐意免费赠送一年。

有了那次经验,马丁便在他每一篇手稿的第一页上注明:“请按贵刊常规付酬。”

有时他自我安慰说:总有一天会按我的常规付酬的。

这个阶段他发现自己有了一种追求完美的热情。在那种情绪支配之下,他修改了、润色了他早期写作的《扰攘的街道》、《生命之酒》、《欢乐》、《海上抒情诗》和一些别的作品。他仍然跟过去一样,不要命地写作和读书;一天工作十九小时还嫌不够;在百忙之中连戒烟的痛苦也忘掉了。露丝带来的包装花哨的戒烟药被他塞到了抽屉最偏僻的角落里。在饥饿的时候,他尤其想抽烟,想得难受;无论多少次忍住烟瘾,那瘾总跟过去一样,十分强烈。他把戒烟认为是他最大的成就,可露丝却只觉得他不过做了件本该做的事而已。她给他带来了用自己的军用钱买的戒烟药,过两天就忘记了。

他那些机械制造的小故事倒很成功,尽管为他所不喜欢,也瞧不起。它们给他赎回了当掉的东西,偿付了大部分欠债,给他的自行车买了一副新轮胎,还使他免于断炊之虞,给了他时间写作雄心勃勃的作品。不过给了他信心的仍然是《白鼠》带给他的那四十元,那是他的信念之所寄托。他相信真正的第一流杂志是会给予一个无名作家同样的稿酬的,即使不能更多。问题在怎样打进第一流杂志。他最好的小说。论文和诗歌都在那些杂志间沿门乞讨;而他每个月都要在那些杂志不同的封面与封底之间读到无数篇沉闷、乏味、没有艺术性的玩意。他有时想:哪怕有一个编辑从他那傲慢的高位上给我写来一行鼓励的话也是好的。即使我的作品和别的作品不同,不够谨慎,不合需要,不能刊用,可其中总还有某些地方能闪出一星星火花,让他们温暖,博得他们一丝赞赏的吧!这样一想他又拿出自己的稿子,比如《冒险》,反复地研读起来,想探索出编辑们一直沉默的道理。

加利福尼亚州芬芳馥郁的春天到来了,可他的宽裕日子却结束了。很奇怪,报纸小故事供应社一连几个星期默不作声,令他十分烦恼。然后有一天邮局送回了他十篇机械制造的、天衣无缝的小故事。还附了一封简短的信,大意是供应社稿挤,几个月之内不会再接受外搞。可马丁却早已仗恃那十篇小故事过起了阔绰的生活。到最近为止,协会对他的稿子一直是每篇五元,来者不拒的,因此他便把那十个故事当作已经卖掉,仿佛在银行已有了五十元存款,并据此安排了生活。这样,他便于突然之间堕入了一段困顿,在这段时间里他老向那些并不付酬的报刊兜售他早期的作品,向那些并不想买他稿子的杂志兜售他近来的作品。同时他又开始到奥克兰上当铺了。卖给纽约几家周刊的几个笑话和几首俏皮诗使他得以苟延残喘。他在这个时期内向几家大型月刊和季刊发出了询问信,得到的回信是,它们很少考虑接受外搞,它们的大部分内容都是约稿,作者都是有名的专家,在各自领域里的权威。
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