Shanghai as I See It by Wu Guanzhong ~ 吴冠中 《上海街头》 with English Translations

作品原文

吴冠中 《上海街头》

我每次过上海,多半是匆匆三五天,只有很少几次是超过一星期的,像一个虽常见面但无深交的熟人,不很了解,而其音容笑貌却是难忘的。
上海是一个神秘的地方!我在宜兴农村的童年时代,每见到上海人回乡,也总爱挤在人丛中听他们讲讲花花世界的见闻。夏天,他们穿着黑色的香云纱,我以为香云纱就是上海人的标志。在上海做事的人显然比乡下人高贵多了,他们似乎很有钱,带回来的整筒饼干和美女月份牌就够令人羡慕了,后来我才知道他们都是当女工、小工和保姆的,挣钱并不那么容易。和百分之九十九的乡亲们一样,我的父母也从未见过上海,虽然相距并不算远,但上海对他们永远是一个遥远的天国。近几年我每到北站候车,总听到地道的乡音,年迈的乡亲们常来上海观光了,他们的子女在工厂、大学及科研单位工作,他们有福气了。
外滩是大上海的面貌特征吧,南京路一带的高楼大厦曾是上海人向乡下佬描述的骄傲。后来当我在伦敦过了一个暑假,发现那文艺复兴时代式样的古代楼房、那狭窄的街道,与南京路一带何其相似!不是伦敦像南京路,而是按照伦敦的某些模式捏塑了南京路,让人们去回忆上海滩形成的史迹吧!然而南京路还是有自己的特色的:人多。这可与北京的王府井争冠军,争世界冠军去!
有人说上海人滑头,有人说上海人聪明灵活,我同意后一种看法。从饮食烹调到糖果点心,从轻工产品到服装样式,都体现了聪明灵活。最近我看到上海一家毛纺厂生产的虎皮晴纶毯,很美,虎虎有生气,是一件艺术品,在众多老式呆板花色的毛毯中,它应被评为毯中之王,我希望接着出现乱真的豹皮毛毯!我也见过滑头的上海人,白相人。我也曾以为上海人吃不了苦,然而我在井冈山中,在西双版纳的橡胶林中,在新疆阿尔泰的边境,遇到过不少刻苦耐劳的青年人,只当他们暴露了“阿拉,阿拉”之后,才知原来是上海人。
30年代的上海高楼大厦,与香港差不多,此后高楼没有再生高楼,如今比不上香港了,也比不上北京了,在上海的我的老师和同学仍大都住在拥挤不堪的里弄里,仍可体验产生30年代文学的环境。我去年10月下旬经上海,出站时遇大雨,提着行李包,撑着雨伞排进等出租汽车的长队,没希望,转入排三轮的长队,也没希望,暂找个避雨的立足之地,没有,前后左右能容人的只是马路,大雨在横扫所有的马路。“鬼上海”!旅客们骂了。“鬼上海”!我也跟着骂。
我未曾碰到过上海的大阔佬,只在《子夜》、《陈毅市长》等文艺作品中见到资本家的豪华排场,见到老爷、太太、少爷、小姐们的神情风致。最近一次到上海,见到许多大饭店的门口排开成群西装革履、烫头发擦口红的青年男女,有的胸前佩戴着大红花,他们在等待频频到来的小汽车里的贵客。满是一番灯红酒绿夜都市的气氛,这不真有点像少爷小姐们的阔绰气派了吗!我好奇了,人们告诉我这个北京来的乡下佬,说这是结婚。那迎宾的队伍从大门口一直引至宴会厅,而且几家大饭店的喜宴日程已登记到1983年很晚的月份了。
任伯年和吴昌硕鬻画于上海。刘海粟先生在上海创办了中国第一所现代化雏形的美术学校。今天许多重要省市都有了较完整的美术学院,而上海没有,但上海拥有众多的画家,人才济济。凡是重要的美展,国内和国外的,北京展完便到上海,上海的展厅与上海之不相衬,一如那个火车站。没有吸引我的美术活动,这大概是我每过上海多半只是匆匆三五天的原由吧!

 

 

作品译文

 

 

Shanghai as I See It
Wu Guanzhong

Whenever I passed through Shanghai, I would stay there for only three or four days, seldom more than a week. So the city, like a person who is more of a nodding acquaintance than a close friend of mine, is still rather unfamiliar to me. But its look and voice are unforgettable.
Shanghai is a mysterious place! When I was a child living in the countryside of Yixing, I used to elbow my way into a big crowd so as to listen to someone lately returned from Shanghai chatting about things he had seen and heard in the dazzling city. To me, their summer wear of dark-colored xiangyuansha was characteristic of a Shanghailander. Evidently, those who had been working in Shanghai enjoyed a much higher status than their fellow villagers. They seemed to be quite rich. The tins of biscuits and wall calendars with pinup girls on them they had brought home were the envy of all country folks. Later, I learned, however, that they had been earning money the hard way by becoming factory workers, old jobbers or housemaids. Like 99 percent of our fellow villagers, my parents had never been to Shanghai. Though living not remote from Shanghai, they had to regard it as an inaccessible paradise on earth. In recent years, often in the waiting room of Shanghai Northern Railway Station, I have overheard some travelers speaking with a pure accent of my native place. They are apparently elderly villagers from my home town who, thanks to their children working in local factories, universities or research institutes, can now well afford to visit the city on sight-seeing tours.
The Bund is a marked feature of Greater Shanghai. Shanghailanders used to describe to country folks with pride how Nanjing Road is lined with high-rises. Later, while I was in London for a summer vacation, I noticed the remarkable resemblance between some of the narrow streets there with their renaissance-style ancient buildings and Nanjing Road. But I would rather say that it is Nanjing Road that has been modeled after London. Well, let’s review the history of Shanghai! Nevertheless, Nanjing Road has a characteristic of its own, that it, street congestion. In this respect, it can vie with Wangfujing of Beijing for championship, or world championship.
Some say Shanghailanders are shrewd, some say they are smart. I agree with the latter. The delicacies they cook and the sweets and pastries they make, as well as their light industry products and dress fashions, all speak well for their cleverness. Recently I was very much struck by the robust beauty of an acrylic blanket made in imitation of tiger skin, which was the product of a Shanghai Woolen Mill. It was a real work of art standing head and shoulders above other blankets with old-fashioned dull patterns and colors. I hope they will follow up with blankets patterned to perfection on leopard skin. Shanghai is not without its sly fellows or even rogues of course. And I used to presume that Shanghailanders as a whole are not used to hardship and toil. But I have come across a great many hardworking youth hailing from Shanghai in the Jinggang Mountains, on the rubber plantations of Xi-shuang-ban-na, or in Altai on the frontier of Xinjiang. It was not until they revealed their Shanghai accent that I knew where they were from.
In the thirties, Shanghai used to compare well with Hong Kong for skyscrapers and high-rise. But later, when it ceased to erect more, it began to lag behind and even Beijing. Most of my former teachers and schoolmates there are still living in the close quarters of lanes and alleys, experiencing the same environment that had produced literature of the thirties. In the latter part of last October, when I made a stopover in Shanghai, I happened to be caught by a heavy rain outside the railway station. I joined a long queue for taxis with luggage and umbrella in hand, but to no avail. I joined another long queue for pedicabs, but also to not avail. Then I tried to seek a shelter from the rain, but also to no avail. All travelers had to stand in the open totally exposed to the storm. “Damnable Shanghai!” they cursed. “Damnable Shanghai!” I echoed.
I’ve never come to know any wealthy guys in Shanghai except in the novel Midnight, the stage play Mayor Chen Yi, etc., depicting moneyed capitalists and their families leading a lavish life. On my last trip to Shanghai, I happened to see many young men dressed in Western suits and leather shoes and women with poem and rouged lips, some sporting big red flowers on their chests, lining up in front of many luxury hotels to await the arrival of cars carrying distinguished guests. Wasn’t that a night scene of color and bustle typical of a metropolis – a scene of children from rich families flaunting an ostentatious life-style? While I was utterly puzzled, people told me that I was too much of a country bumpkin to recognize a wedding ceremony. The guest-welcoming line extended all the way from the gate to the banquet hall. And several big hotels had already been booked up for wedding banquets till the end of 1983.
Ren Bonian and Wu Changshuo used to sell their paintings for a living in Shanghai. And Liu Haisu established China’s first school of fine arts in the city. Today, many provinces and cities in China boast their own standardized art schools with the exception of Shanghai although it is home to a galaxy of painters. All art exhibitions, foreign or Chinese, were first held in Beijing and next in Shanghai. But the exhibition hall in Shanghai, like its railway station, doesn’t go well with the status of such a metropolis. It therefore holds little attraction for me as a painter. That probably accounts for the fact that every time in passing through the city, I usually stayed there for only three or four days!

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