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马丁·伊登(MARTIN EDEN)第四十三章

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"The Shame of the Sun" was published in October. As Martin cut the cords of the express package and the half-dozen complimentary copies from the publishers spilled out on the table, a heavy sadness fell upon him. He thought of the wild delight that would have been his had this happened a few short months before, and he contrasted that delight that should have been with his present uncaring coldness. His book, his first book, and his pulse had not gone up a fraction of a beat, and he was only sad. It meant little to him now. The most it meant was that it might bring some money, and little enough did he care for money.

He carried a copy out into the kitchen and presented it to Maria.

"I did it," he explained, in order to clear up her bewilderment. "I wrote it in the room there, and I guess some few quarts of your vegetable soup went into the making of it. Keep it. It's yours. Just to remember me by, you know."

He was not bragging, not showing off. His sole motive was to make her happy, to make her proud of him, to justify her long faith in him. She put the book in the front room on top of the family Bible. A sacred thing was this book her lodger had made, a fetich of friendship. It softened the blow of his having been a laundryman, and though she could not understand a line of it, she knew that every line of it was great. She was a simple, practical, hard-working woman, but she possessed faith in large endowment.

Just as emotionlessly as he had received "The Shame of the Sun" did he read the reviews of it that came in weekly from the clipping bureau. The book was making a hit, that was evident. It meant more gold in the money sack. He could fix up Lizzie, redeem all his promises, and still have enough left to build his grass-walled castle.

Singletree, Darnley & Co. had cautiously brought out an edition of fifteen hundred copies, but the first reviews had started a second edition of twice the size through the presses; and ere this was delivered a third edition of five thousand had been ordered. A London firm made arrangements by cable for an English edition, and hot-footed upon this came the news of French, German, and Scandinavian translations in progress. The attack upon the Maeterlinck school could not have been made at a more opportune moment. A fierce controversy was precipitated. Saleeby and Haeckel indorsed and defended "The Shame of the Sun," for once finding themselves on the same side of a question. Crookes and Wallace ranged up on the opposing side, while Sir Oliver Lodge attempted to formulate a compromise that would jibe with his particular cosmic theories. Maeterlinck's followers rallied around the standard of mysticism. Chesterton set the whole world laughing with a series of alleged non-partisan essays on the subject, and the whole affair, controversy and controversialists, was well-nigh swept into the pit by a thundering broadside from George Bernard Shaw. Needless to say the arena was crowded with hosts of lesser lights, and the dust and sweat and din became terrific.

"It is a most marvellous happening," Singletree, Darnley & Co. wrote Martin, "a critical philosophic essay selling like a novel. You could not have chosen your subject better, and all contributory factors have been unwarrantedly propitious. We need scarcely to assure you that we are making hay while the sun shines. Over forty thousand copies have already been sold in the United States and Canada, and a new edition of twenty thousand is on the presses. We are overworked, trying to supply the demand. Nevertheless we have helped to create that demand. We have already spent five thousand dollars in advertising. The book is bound to be a record-breaker."

"Please find herewith a contract in duplicate for your next book which we have taken the liberty of forwarding to you. You will please note that we have increased your royalties to twenty per

cent, which is about as high as a conservative publishing house dares go. If our offer is agreeable to you, please fill in the proper blank space with the title of your book. We make no stipulations concerning its nature. Any book on any subject. If you have one already written, so much the better. Now is the time to strike. The iron could not be hotter."

"On receipt of signed contract we shall be pleased to make you an advance on royalties of five thousand dollars. You see, we have faith in you, and we are going in on this thing big. We should like, also, to discuss with you the drawing up of a contract for a term of years, say ten, during which we shall have the exclusive right of publishing in book-form all that you produce. But more of this anon."

Martin laid down the letter and worked a problem in mental arithmetic, finding the product of fifteen cents times sixty thousand to be nine thousand dollars. He signed the new contract, inserting "The Smoke of Joy" in the blank space, and mailed it back to the publishers along with the twenty storiettes he had written in the days before he discovered the formula for the newspaper storiette. And promptly as the United States mail could deliver and return, came Singletree, Darnley & Co.'s check for five thousand dollars.

"I want you to come down town with me, Maria, this afternoon about two o'clock," Martin said, the morning the check arrived. "Or, better, meet me at Fourteenth and Broadway at two o'clock. I'll be looking out for you."

At the appointed time she was there; but SHOES was the only clew to the mystery her mind had been capable of evolving, and she suffered a distinct shock of disappointment when Martin walked her right by a shoe-store and dived into a real estate office. What happened thereupon resided forever after in her memory as a dream. Fine gentlemen smiled at her benevolently as they talked with Martin and one another; a type-writer clicked; signatures were affixed to an imposing document; her own landlord was there, too, and affixed his signature; and when all was over and she was outside on the sidewalk, her landlord spoke to her, saying, "Well, Maria, you won't have to pay me no seven dollars and a half this month."

Maria was too stunned for speech.

"Or next month, or the next, or the next," her landlord said.

She thanked him incoherently, as if for a favor. And it was not until she had returned home to North Oakland and conferred with her own kind, and had the Portuguese grocer investigate, that she really knew that she was the owner of the little house in which she had lived and for which she had paid rent so long.

"Why don't you trade with me no more?" the Portuguese grocer asked Martin that evening, stepping out to hail him when he got off the car; and Martin explained that he wasn't doing his own cooking any more, and then went in and had a drink of wine on the house. He noted it was the best wine the grocer had in stock.

"Maria," Martin announced that night, "I'm going to leave you. And you're going to leave here yourself soon. Then you can rent the house and be a landlord yourself. You've a brother in San Leandro or Haywards, and he's in the milk business. I want you to send all your washing back unwashed - understand? - unwashed, and to go out to San Leandro to-morrow, or Haywards, or wherever it is, and see that brother of yours. Tell him to come to see me. I'll be stopping at the Metropole down in Oakland. He'll know a good milk- ranch when he sees one."

And so it was that Maria became a landlord and the sole owner of a dairy, with two hired men to do the work for her and a bank account that steadily increased despite the fact that her whole brood wore shoes and went to school. Few persons ever meet the fairy princes they dream about; but Maria, who worked hard and whose head was hard, never dreaming about fairy princes, entertained hers in the guise of an ex-laundryman.

In the meantime the world had begun to ask: "Who is this Martin Eden?" He had declined to give any biographical data to his publishers, but the newspapers were not to be denied. Oakland was his own town, and the reporters nosed out scores of individuals who could supply information. All that he was and was not, all that he had done and most of what he had not done, was spread out for the delectation of the public, accompanied by snapshots and photographs - the latter procured from the local photographer who had once taken Martin's picture and who promptly copyrighted it and put it on the market. At first, so great was his disgust with the magazines and all bourgeois society, Martin fought against publicity; but in the end, because it was easier than not to, he surrendered. He found that he could not refuse himself to the special writers who travelled long distances to see him. Then again, each day was so many hours long, and, since he no longer was occupied with writing and studying, those hours had to be occupied somehow; so he yielded to what was to him a whim, permitted interviews, gave his opinions on literature and philosophy, and even accepted invitations of the bourgeoisie. He had settled down into a strange and comfortable state of mind. He no longer cared. He forgave everybody, even the cub reporter who had painted him red and to whom he now granted a full page with specially posed photographs.

He saw Lizzie occasionally, and it was patent that she regretted the greatness that had come to him. It widened the space between them. Perhaps it was with the hope of narrowing it that she yielded to his persuasions to go to night school and business college and to have herself gowned by a wonderful dressmaker who charged outrageous prices. She improved visibly from day to day, until Martin wondered if he was doing right, for he knew that all her compliance and endeavor was for his sake. She was trying to make herself of worth in his eyes - of the sort of worth he seemed to value. Yet he gave her no hope, treating her in brotherly fashion and rarely seeing her.

"Overdue" was rushed upon the market by the Meredith-Lowell Company in the height of his popularity, and being fiction, in point of sales it made even a bigger strike than "The Shame of the Sun." Week after week his was the credit of the unprecedented performance of having two books at the head of the list of best-sellers. Not only did the story take with the fiction-readers, but those who read "The Shame of the Sun" with avidity were likewise attracted to the sea-story by the cosmic grasp of mastery with which he had handled it. First he had attacked the literature of mysticism, and had done it exceeding well; and, next, he had successfully supplied the very literature he had exposited, thus proving himself to be that rare genius, a critic and a creator in one.

Money poured in on him, fame poured in on him; he flashed, comet- like, through the world of literature, and he was more amused than interested by the stir he was making. One thing was puzzling him, a little thing that would have puzzled the world had it known. But the world would have puzzled over his bepuzzlement rather than over the little thing that to him loomed gigantic. Judge Blount invited him to dinner. That was the little thing, or the beginning of the little thing, that was soon to become the big thing. He had insulted Judge Blount, treated him abominably, and Judge Blount, meeting him on the street, invited him to dinner. Martin bethought himself of the numerous occasions on which he had met Judge Blount at the Morses' and when Judge Blount had not invited him to dinner. Why had he not invited him to dinner then? he asked himself. He had not changed. He was the same Martin Eden. What made the difference? The fact that the stuff he had written had appeared inside the covers of books? But it was work performed. It was not something he had done since. It was achievement accomplished at the very time Judge Blount was sharing this general view and sneering at his Spencer and his intellect. Therefore it was not for any real value, but for a purely fictitious value that Judge Blount invited him to dinner.

Martin grinned and accepted the invitation, marvelling the while at his complacence. And at the dinner, where, with their womankind, were half a dozen of those that sat in high places, and where Martin found himself quite the lion, Judge Blount, warmly seconded by Judge Hanwell, urged privately that Martin should permit his name to be put up for the Styx - the ultra-select club to which belonged, not the mere men of wealth, but the men of attainment. And Martin declined, and was more puzzled than ever.

He was kept busy disposing of his heap of manuscripts. He was overwhelmed by requests from editors. It had been discovered that he was a stylist, with meat under his style. THE NORTHERN REVIEW, after publishing "The Cradle of Beauty," had written him for half a dozen similar essays, which would have been supplied out of the heap, had not BURTON'S MAGAZINE, in a speculative mood, offered him five hundred dollars each for five essays. He wrote back that he would supply the demand, but at a thousand dollars an essay. He remembered that all these manuscripts had been refused by the very magazines that were now clamoring for them. And their refusals had been cold-blooded, automatic, stereotyped. They had made him sweat, and now he intended to make them sweat. BURTON'S MAGAZINE paid his price for five essays, and the remaining four, at the same rate, were snapped up by MACKINTOSH'S MONTHLY, THE NORTHERN REVIEW being too poor to stand the pace. Thus went out to the world "The High Priests of Mystery," "The Wonder-Dreamers," "The Yardstick of the Ego," "Philosophy of Illusion," "God and Clod," "Art and Biology," "Critics and Test-tubes," "Star-dust," and "The Dignity of Usury," - to raise storms and rumblings and mutterings that were many a day in dying down.

Editors wrote to him telling him to name his own terms, which he did, but it was always for work performed. He refused resolutely to pledge himself to any new thing. The thought of again setting pen to paper maddened him. He had seen Brissenden torn to pieces by the crowd, and despite the fact that him the crowd acclaimed, he could not get over the shock nor gather any respect for the crowd. His very popularity seemed a disgrace and a treason to Brissenden. It made him wince, but he made up his mind to go on and fill the money-bag.

He received letters from editors like the following: "About a year ago we were unfortunate enough to refuse your collection of love- poems. We were greatly impressed by them at the time, but certain arrangements already entered into prevented our taking them. If you still have them, and if you will be kind enough to forward them, we shall be glad to publish the entire collection on your own terms. We are also prepared to make a most advantageous offer for bringing them out in book-form."

Martin recollected his blank-verse tragedy, and sent it instead. He read it over before mailing, and was particularly impressed by its sophomoric amateurishness and general worthlessness. But he sent it; and it was published, to the everlasting regret of the editor. The public was indignant and incredulous. It was too far a cry from Martin Eden's high standard to that serious bosh. It was asserted that he had never written it, that the magazine had faked it very clumsily, or that Martin Eden was emulating the elder Dumas and at the height of success was hiring his writing done for him. But when he explained that the tragedy was an early effort of his literary childhood, and that the magazine had refused to be happy unless it got it, a great laugh went up at the magazine's expense and a change in the editorship followed. The tragedy was never brought out in book-form, though Martin pocketed the advance royalties that had been paid.

COLEMAN'S WEEKLY sent Martin a lengthy telegram, costing nearly three hundred dollars, offering him a thousand dollars an article for twenty articles. He was to travel over the United States, with all expenses paid, and select whatever topics interested him. The body of the telegram was devoted to hypothetical topics in order to show him the freedom of range that was to be his. The only restriction placed upon him was that he must confine himself to the United States. Martin sent his inability to accept and his regrets by wire "collect."

"Wiki-Wiki," published in WARREN'S MONTHLY, was an instantaneous success. It was brought out forward in a wide-margined, beautifully decorated volume that struck the holiday trade and sold like wildfire. The critics were unanimous in the belief that it would take its place with those two classics by two great writers, "The Bottle Imp" and "The Magic Skin."

The public, however, received the "Smoke of Joy" collection rather dubiously and coldly. The audacity and unconventionality of the storiettes was a shock to bourgeois morality and prejudice; but when Paris went mad over the immediate translation that was made, the American and English reading public followed suit and bought so many copies that Martin compelled the conservative house of Singletree, Darnley & Co. to pay a flat royalty of twenty-five per cent for a third book, and thirty per cent flat for a fourth. These two volumes comprised all the short stories he had written and which had received, or were receiving, serial publication. "The Ring of Bells" and his horror stories constituted one collection; the other collection was composed of "Adventure," "The Pot," "The Wine of Life," "The Whirlpool," "The Jostling Street," and four other stories. The Lowell-Meredith Company captured the collection of all his essays, and the Maxmillian Company got his "Sea Lyrics" and the "Love-cycle," the latter receiving serial publication in the LADIES' HOME COMPANION after the payment of an extortionate price.

Martin heaved a sigh of relief when he had disposed of the last manuscript. The grass-walled castle and the white, coppered schooner were very near to him. Well, at any rate he had discovered Brissenden's contention that nothing of merit found its way into the magazines. His own success demonstrated that Brissenden had been wrong.

And yet, somehow, he had a feeling that Brissenden had been right, after all. "The Shame of the Sun" had been the cause of his success more than the stuff he had written. That stuff had been merely incidental. It had been rejected right and left by the magazines. The publication of "The Shame of the Sun" had started a controversy and precipitated the landslide in his favor. Had there been no "Shame of the Sun" there would have been no landslide, and had there been no miracle in the go of "The Shame of the Sun" there would have been no landslide. Singletree, Darnley & Co. attested that miracle. They had brought out a first edition of fifteen hundred copies and been dubious of selling it. They were experienced publishers and no one had been more astounded than they at the success which had followed. To them it had been in truth a miracle. They never got over it, and every letter they wrote him reflected their reverent awe of that first mysterious happening. They did not attempt to explain it. There was no explaining it. It had happened. In the face of all experience to the contrary, it had happened.

So it was, reasoning thus, that Martin questioned the validity of his popularity. It was the bourgeoisie that bought his books and poured its gold into his money-sack, and from what little he knew of the bourgeoisie it was not clear to him how it could possibly appreciate or comprehend what he had written. His intrinsic beauty and power meant nothing to the hundreds of thousands who were acclaiming him and buying his books. He was the fad of the hour, the adventurer who had stormed Parnassus while the gods nodded. The hundreds of thousands read him and acclaimed him with the same brute non-understanding with which they had flung themselves on Brissenden's "Ephemera" and torn it to pieces - a wolf-rabble that fawned on him instead of fanging him. Fawn or fang, it was all a matter of chance. One thing he knew with absolute certitude: "Ephemera" was infinitely greater than anything he had done. It was infinitely greater than anything he had in him. It was a poem of centuries. Then the tribute the mob paid him was a sorry tribute indeed, for that same mob had wallowed "Ephemera" into the mire. He sighed heavily and with satisfaction. He was glad the last manuscript was sold and that he would soon be done with it all.

《太阳的耻辱》十月份出版了。快邮送来了包裹,马丁割断包裹绳,出版社赠送的那半打样书便散落到桌上。他不禁感到一种沉重的悲哀。他想到,此事若发生在短短几个月以前,他会是多么欢畅得意。他把那可能出现的狂欢和目前这满不在乎的冷淡作了个对比。那是他的书,他的第一本书,可是他的心却并不曾丝毫加速了跳跃,他感到的只是悲凉。此事对他已经毫无意义。它最大的作用只是给他带来一点钱,而对钱他又已经很不在乎了。

他拿了一本书来到厨房,送给了玛利亚。

“我写的,”他解释道,想消除她的迷惑。“就是在我那间屋里写的,看来你有些菜汤还给我的写作帮了忙呢。留下吧,这书送给你了。不过作个纪念而已,你知道。”

他没有吹嘘,也没有炫耀,一心只求她高兴,求她为他骄傲,也证明她长时间以来对他的信心并没有错。她把那书放在前厅的家用圣经上。她的房客写的这本书是神圣的,是个友谊的象征,冲淡了他曾做过洗衣工这一事实给她的打击。她虽然一句也读不懂,但她明白那书的每一行都很了不起。她是个单纯而实际的女人,对信念具有宏大的天赋。

他接到《太阳的耻辱》时无动于衷,读到剪报社每周给他寄来的评论时也照样无动于衷。很明显,那书正在走俏。那意味着钱袋里更多的金币,他可以安排好丽齐的生活,实践他以前的每一个诺言,还可以建造他那干草打墙的堡垒。

欣格垂、达恩利公司出版时小心翼翼,一共才出一千五百本。但是书评刚开始发表,他们便加印了三千本。这第二批书还没有发出,定单又来了,要求再出一版,五千本。伦敦一家公司又用电报接洽,要出一个英国版。紧接着又相继传来消息,法国、德国和斯堪的纳维亚各国的译本也要出版。现在正是攻击梅特林克学派的最佳时机。随之而来的是一场激烈的论战。撒里比和海克尔终于发现他们也有观点相同的机会了:双方都赞成《太阳的耻辱》,并为它辩护。柯鲁克和华莱士却持反对意见;而奥利福·罗季爵士则试图从中寻求出一个折中的公式,使之和他独特的宇宙理论会拍。而梅特林克的信徒们却在神秘主义的旗帜之下聚合了起来。切斯脱顿对这一问题发表了一连串自命为不偏不简的文章,却引来了全世界的讪笑。而萧伯纳则发出了一阵排炮,几乎把这整个事件、全部争论和全部参加争论的人都何了个落花流水。当然,战场上还挤满了许多元籍籍名的英雄豪杰,闹了个汗流浃背,沸反盈天,尘土飞扬。

“此事非常出色,”欣格垂、达恩利公司给马丁的信上说,“哲学评论竟然能如小说一样畅销。先生之选题精彩之至。一切情况都意外地看好。我们几乎用不着向你保证我们正在未雨绸缪。在美国和加拿大此书已售出四万册,另有一新版本亦在印刷之中,印数为两万。为了满足需求我们正在加班加点。不过为造成需求我校亦煞费苦心,已花去广告费五千元。此书无疑将打破记录。

“我社在此信中已冒昧奉寄有关先生另一作品之合同一纸,一式两份。请注意,版税报酬已增至百分之二十。该报酬已是稳健的出版社所敢订出的最高数额。先生如觉可行,请即在表中有关空白处填具先生新书书名。该书性质我社不作规定,任何主题之任何书籍均可。若有已写成之书更佳。目前乃趁热打铁之最佳时机。

“我社接到先生签署之合同后即将预支给先生版税五千元。请注意,我社对先生信心十足,打算就此事大干一场。我社亦乐意与先生磋商签定一份多年合同,比如十年,十年之间见先生作品一律由我社以书籍形式出版。有未尽事宜,容后速议。”

马丁放下信,在心里算了一道算术题,发现一毛五乘以六万是九千元。他签署了新的合同,在空白处填上了《欢的轻烟》,寄给了出版人,又把他早在发现写作报纸小小说的公式之前写的二十篇小小说一起寄了去。于是,欣格垂、达恩利公司就以美国邮递回函所能达到的最高速度寄来了五千元的支票一张。

“玛利亚。我要你今天下午两点左右跟我一起进城去,”支票到达的那天上午,马丁说,“或者,你就在两点钟到十四号街和大马路的十字路口等我,我去找你。”

玛利亚在约定的时间来到了那里,她讨这个谜团所能作出的唯一解释是:买鞋。但是在马丁过鞋店而不久,却径直走进了地产公司时,她显然大失所望。在那儿发生的一切以后永远像梦一样留在她的记忆里。文质彬彬的先生们跟马丁谈话或跟她谈话时都和善地微笑着。打字机的的答答地敲了一会;堂皇的文件签上了名;她自己的房东也到了,也签了名。一切手续办完她出了店门来到人行道上,她的房东对她说:“好了,玛利亚,这个月你不用付我七元五角了。”

玛利亚大吃了一惊,说不出话来。

“下个月也不用付了,再下个月也不用付了,再下个月也一样,”房东说。

她前言不搭后语地对他表示感谢,好像受到了什么恩惠。直到她回到北奥克兰自己家里,和伙伴们商量过,又找那葡萄牙商人咨询了一番之后,她才真正明白自己已成了那幢她居住了多年、付了多年房租的小屋子的主人了。

“你怎么不来买我的东西了呢?”那天晚上那葡萄牙商人见马丁从车上下来,便抢出门去招呼他,并问道。马丁解释说他自己已不再烧饭了,然后主人便请他进门去喝了酒。他发现那是杂货店存货中最好的酒。

“玛利亚,”马丁那天晚上宣布,“我要离开你了。你自己也马上就要离开这儿了。你也可以当房主,把这房子租出去。你有个做奶品生意的弟弟,在圣利安德罗或是海华德。我要你明天就把所有的脏衣服都送回去,不用再洗了。明白么?不洗了。到圣利安德罗、海华德或是别的什么地方去找到你的弟弟,请他来见我。我在奥克兰的大都会旅馆等他,他见到了好奶牛场是能鉴别的。”

于是玛利亚就成了个房东,又成了奶牛场的独家老板。她请了两个帮工做事,还开了一个银行户头,尽管她的孩子们都穿上了鞋,而且上学读书,存折里的钱却还稳定地增长着。很少有人遇见过自己所梦想的神仙王子,但是辛苦工作、头脑单纯的玛利亚却接待了她的神仙王于,那王子假扮成了一个往日的洗衣工,虽然她从没做过神仙王子的梦D

与此同时全世界都已开始在问:“这个马丁·伊登是个什么样的人?”马丁拒绝给他的出版人任何个人的传记资料,但是报纸他却无法拒绝。他是奥克兰人,记者们打听出了几十个能够提供有关他的资料的人。他们把他是什么样的人、不是什么样的人,所有他干过的事、大部分他没有干过的事都摊到人们面前,让他们高兴,还配上了抢拍镜头和照片。照片是从当地一个摄影师那儿弄到手的。那人曾经给马丁拍过照,现在便立即拿照片申请了专利,而且送上了市场。马丁对杂志和整个资产阶级社会深恶痛绝,开始时他跟宣扬自己作过斗争,可最后却屈服了,因为不斗争比斗争容易。他发现自己无法拒绝从大老远跑来采访他的特派作家,何况一天有那么多个小时,他又不再写作和读书了,时间总得打发过去;于是他便向他认为是想人非非的东西投降了,接受了采访,发表了有关文学和哲学的见解,甚至接受资产阶级的邀请去赴宴。他在一种奇怪的心气平和的心境里安定了下来,再也不着急了。他原谅了一切人,甚至包括了那把他描绘成赤色分子的半瓶醋记者。他还让他做了一整版报道,摆开架势让他照了许多相片。

他偶然还见到丽齐,她显然对他的走红感到遗憾。这事扩大了他俩之间的距离。也许是为了缩小距离,她接受了他的建议去上夜校,上商业学院,还请了一个了不起的女衣裁缝给她做衣服,那裁缝收费高得吓人。她一天比一天进步了,直到马丁怀疑起自己的做法是否得体。因为他明白她的这一切迁就和努力都是为了他。她是在努力让自己在他眼里具有分量——具有他似乎重视的那种分量。但是他并没有给她希望,又像个哥哥一样对待她,也很少跟她见面。

在他红极一时之际,梅瑞迪思-罗威尔公司迫不及待地把他的《过期》推上了市场。由于是小说,它在销售量上取得了比《太阳的批辱》更大的成功。他得到了前所未有的荣耀,两本书同时在每周的畅销书排行榜上名列前茅。那小说不但赢得了小说读者的青睐,而且以其处理海洋情节的宏大气魄和精湛技艺吸引了津津有味地读过《太阳的耻辱》的人们。首先,他曾经极其精彩地攻击过神秘主义文学,然后,他又成功地提供了自己所阐明的那种文学作品,从而证明了自己是集作家与评论家于一身的罕见的天才。

金钱向他汩汩流来,荣誉向他滔滔而至,他像童星一样划过了文学的天空。他对自己引起的这番骚动的感觉与其说是有趣毋宁说是好笑。有一件小事令他不解。那小事老是世人知道了是会不解的。不过人们感到不解的只会是他的不解,而不是那件令他觉得越来越大的小事。布朗特法官邀请他去吃饭。那就是那小事的滥觞——或者说那就是那不久就变成了大事的小事的滥筋。他曾经侮辱过布朗特法官,对他的态度可恶已极,而布朗特法官在街上遇见他却指他去吃饭。马丁想道:他在莫尔斯家曾经无数次地见到过布朗特法官,他从没有请他吃饭。那时候他为什么不请他吃饭呢?他问自己。他自己并没有变,他还是那个马丁·伊登,那么,这变化是怎么来的?是他写的那些东西已经在书本的封面与封底之间出现了么?可那些东西地当初就已经完成,而不是后来才完成的。在布朗特法官按一般人的意见嘲弄他的斯宾塞和他的智力时,那些成就便已经取得了。因此布朗特法官清他吃饭并不是因为他任何真正的价值,而是因为一种完全虚幻的价值。

马丁苦笑了一下,接受了邀请,同时也为自己的心安理很感到奇怪。晚宴上有六七个高层人物和他们的女眷。马丁发现自己成了个大红人。布朗特法官私下劝他允许把他的名字列入思提克司俱乐部,这建议得到汉威尔法官的热烈支持。思提克司俱乐部是个非常挑剔的俱乐部,参加的人不但要广有资财,而且要成就卓越。马丁婉言谢绝了,却比任何时候都想不通了。

他忙着处理他那一大堆旧稿。编辑们的稿约使他穷于应付。有人发现他原来是个风格作家,他的风格之中大有文章。《北方评论》在发表了他的《美的摇篮》之后给他写信,要他写半打类似的论文,他正想拿他旧稿堆里的东西去应付时,《伯顿杂志》早抱着投机的态度约过他五篇稿子,每篇五百元。他回信说他可以满足要求,但每篇得要一千元。他记得所有这些稿子都曾为现在吵着要稿子的杂志所拒绝,而且都拒绝得冷酷,机械,官样文章。他们曾经叫他流汗,他也要叫他们流点汗才行。伯顿杂志按照他的价格接受了他的五篇文章,剩下的四篇被《麦金托什月刊》以同样的稿酬抢了去。《奇迹的大祭司》、《奇迹梦想者》、《自我的尺度》、《幻觉的哲学》、《艺术与生物学》、《上帝与土块》、《批评家与试管》、《星尘》和《高利贷的尊严》就是这样与读者见了面的。这些作品引起了风暴、轰动和抱怨,多少日子才平息下来。

编辑们给他写信,让他提出大纲。他提出了大纲,但都是按已写成的作品提的。他坚决拒绝答应写任何新作品。一想到提笔写作他就生气。他曾眼见布里森登被群众撕扯成了碎片。尽管他现在受到欢呼,心里仍有余悸,对群氓仍尊重不起来。他的名声似乎是一种耻辱,是对布里森登的背叛。它叫他想撤离,但他决心继续下去,好把钱袋装满。

他接到的编辑们的来信大体都是这样:“约在一年前本刊曾不幸婉绝先生惠寄之爱情诗集,同人等当时虽有深刻印象,却碍于已有安排,忍痛割爱。目前该稿如仍在先生手中,且愿赏光惠寄,我刊将乐于按先生条件全部发表,并以最优厚稿酬将该稿作诗集出版。”

马丁想起了他的素体诗悲剧,便把它寄去充数。寄出之前他再读了一遍,那剧本的幼稚、浅薄和业余味儿给了他特别深的印象,可他仍然寄了出去。出版之后那编辑后悔了一辈子。读者们义愤填膺,不肯相信,认为那距离马丁的高妙水平太远,不是他的作品,而是那杂志拙劣的仿作,再不然就是马丁·伊登学大仲马,在成功的高峰期请枪手代庖的。但是当马丁解释说那是他写作幼年期的作品、而那家杂志得不到作品总不罢休时,读者便哈哈大笑。那杂志大吃其亏,编辑因而撤职。那悲剧再没有出单行本,虽然马丁已把预支的版税装进了腰包。

《科尔曼周刊》花了差不多三百元给马丁拍来了一封很长的电报,提出要他二十篇稿子,每篇一千元。要他由杂志支付全部费用游历全美,选择任何他乐意的题目写文章。电报的主要内容是提供假定的话题,用以表示他选择题材范围之广泛自由。唯一限制是旅行只在美国国内。马丁拍了电报去表示难以从命,并表示了歉意,电报由收方付费。

《华伦月刊》刊登的《威几威几》立即取得了成功。那书每一页的四边都留了宽阔的空白,还有精美的装饰,在度假期间很走红,像野火一样迅速销售。评论家们一致相信该书将与两个伟大的作家的两本经典著作《瓶中妖魔》和《驴皮记》并驾齐驱。

不过,读者对《欢乐的轻烟》的反应却颇为冷淡,且态度暧昧,因为那些小小说的大胆和反传统精神震撼了资产阶级的道德和偏见;但该书的法文译本随即风靡了巴黎,这时英美两国的读者才又跟了上去,销售量之大,使得马丁在销售他的第三本书时逼迫那谨慎保守的欣格垂、达恩利公司给了他两毛五分的版税,第四本书则要了足足三角。后两部书由他已经写成的全部小说编集而成。那些小说都已经连载过,或正在连载。《钟声激越》和他的恐怖小说集成了一集,另外一集则包括了《冒险》、《罐子》、《生命之酒》、《漩涡》、《扰攘的街道》和其他四个短篇小说。海瑞迪思-罗威尔公司抢走了他的全部论文,马克西米连公司得到了他的《海上抒情诗》和《爱情组诗》,后者还在《女土家庭伴侣》上连载,获得了极优厚的稿酬。

马丁处理完了所有的文稿,长吁了一口气,他如释重负。干草打墙的堡垒和铜皮裹的白色大帆船距离他已经很近了。是的,他无论如何已经明白了布里森登所坚持争辩的道理:有价值的东西进不了杂志。但他的成功却又证明了布里森登的错误。不过说到底他又隐约觉得市里森登也未必错。以书本形式出版的《太阳的耻辱》对他的成功所起的作用要比其他作品大得多,其他作品的作用其实很次要,它们都曾四处碰壁,多次被杂志所拒绝和抛弃。《太阳的耻辱》的出版引起了一场争论,一场于他有利的山崩地裂。没有《太阳的耻辱》就没有山崩地裂。没有《太阳的耻辱》轰动性的畅销,也就没有随后而来的其他的山崩地裂。欣格垂、达恩利公司便是这奇迹的明证。因为担心不好销售,他们第一版只印了一千五百本——他们都是经验丰富的出版人。可随之而来的成功却使他们比谁都更加目瞪口呆。对他们说来那确实是个奇迹,而且他们的奇迹感一直没有消失,他们给他的每一封信都表示对那神秘的初次成功肃然起敬。他们没有设法去解释,事情就是那样发生了,跟他们一切的经验恰好相反。

马丁这样一推理,便怀疑起自己这鼎鼎大名之获得是否应当了。其实,买了他的书,把金币倒进他的钱口袋的就是资产阶级。从他对资产阶级那一点点理解看来,他总是纳闷:他们怎么可能欣赏或是理解他的东西?对于向他欢呼、买他的书的千千万万读者说来,他内在的美与力是没有意义的。那只是他们一时心血来潮而已;他不过是个冒险家,趁着诸神打盹的时候冲上了帕纳萨斯山而已。千千万万的读者读他的书,却带着畜生般的理解向他欢呼,他们跟外向布里森登的《蜉蝣》并把它扯成碎片的是同样的群氓——群狼,只不过他们没有向他露出獠牙,而是向他讨好。獠牙或讨好都出于偶然。有一件事他确信无疑:《蜉蝣》比他的一切的作品都不知道高明多少倍,比他心里所有的一切都不知道高明多少倍。它是一首能彪炳若干世纪的佳作。那么那群氓对他的礼赞也就只能令人遗憾了,因为把布里森登的《蜉蝣》拱到了烂泥里的也是那同样的群氓。他沉重地也满意地叹了一口气。他最后的一篇稿子都已经卖掉,他感到高兴,他马上就要跟这一切断绝关系了。
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