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Salman Rushdie

Vikas Adam (narrator)


故事的主人公名叫Quichotte,与其说是来源塞万提斯笔下的Don Quixote,其实是Jules Massenet笔下的歌剧Don Quichotte。他是一个刚刚退休的医药销售,一生挚爱看电视,把生活和电视搞混在了一起,爱上了电视女明星,决心踏上征途。在途中,他把他的儿子Sancho从无形中幻化成为一个真人,他和他年轻时候有过节的妹妹重逢,替他的不良医药富翁表哥卖药,最后和女明星横跨美国大陆直面世界的终结。

这是一个名为Sam DuChamp(化名Brother)的作者笔下的一个故事,在写了好几部间谍小说之后,Brother决定写一部这样的小说。小说中的人物Quichotte和Brother一样,是一个印度裔的移民,和自己的妹妹有一生难以化解的羁绊,以及一个失而复得的儿子。

音乐剧《我,堂吉诃德》里面同时讲的是塞万提斯和堂吉诃德的故事,这本小说里也是同时讲的Quichotte和他的创作者Brother的故事。于是,可以类比Quichotte/Don Quixote,Brother/塞万提斯,还可以类比Brother/Don Quixote,Rushdie/塞万提斯等等。在小说里,神秘访客在Brother的面前,用Brother创作出来的Quichotte的故事来分析Brother,就像Brother用Quichotte来分析和表达自己对堂吉诃德的认识一样。这并不是一个成长小说,因为小说和故事里的人物其实出场的时候就已经定型到了一个样子一个年龄,所有的人物的背景和历史都像是信息栏一样片段式地补充上来的。因为这个小说和这个故事说的是发生在现代的在当下的堂吉诃德的眼里看到的世界,这个世界里的主要矛盾不再是历史意义的强盗土匪,而是性别歧视、metoo、种族歧视、网络霸权和恐怖主义。有声书里面读到总统讲话,还是模仿川普的口吻。现代的求索的意义,依旧那么可贵。

To be a lawyer in a lawless time was like being a clown among the humorless: which was to say, either completely redundant or absolutely essential.

如果说要用现在的眼光来看堂吉诃德的故事,那也要用现在的眼光来看写Quichotte故事的手法,这是我觉得Rushdie最厉害的地方。这些人物的所作所为所经历的那些有现在时代的现实意义的内容,虽然篇幅蛮多的,但我觉得并没有那么直接和开宗明义,或者说并没有那么让我震撼。反倒是在作者Rushdie笔下,这些故事和故事外的人物如何一个个地从无到有地生了出来,然后每一个都在魔幻和现实的边缘徘徊,这种写法我觉得非常佩服。书中还有好几个Doctor Who和DNA的梗,说是Sancho的出现就像是假设男主求偶成功后生下的儿子坐Tardis来到男主身边的等等。

“My quest for you,” he told Miss Salma R, “has not been for you alone, but also for my own compromised goodness and virtue. I see it now. By attaining you—the impossible!—I thought I might validate my life. By becoming worthy of you I might feel worthy of being myself.”

“That’s quite a speech,” she said.

“What I hoped for is indeed beyond hope,” he said. “I was out of my mind, looking for this year’s birds in last year’s nests. And all around me America—and not only America, the whole human race!—yes, even our India!—was also losing its reason, its capacity for ethics, its goodness, its soul. And it may be, I can’t say, that this deep failure brought down upon us the deeper failure of the cosmos. But I at least have woken up. I am sane again, and if the story of the world is coming to an end, and maybe our stories will end with it, then let us make that a happy ending, a peaceful coming to rest in a good place. But I still hope we may save ourselves. At least I hope that we may try.”

What vanishes when everything vanishes: not only everything, but the memory of everything. Not only can everything no longer remember itself, no longer remember how it was when it still was everything, before it became nothing, but there is nobody else to remember either, and so everything not only ceases to exist but becomes a thing that never was; it is as if everything that was, was not, and moreover there is nobody left to tell the story, not the whole grand story of everything, not even the last sad story of how everything became nothing, because there is no storyteller, no hand to write or eye to read, so that the book of how everything became nothing cannot be written, just as we cannot write the stories of our own deaths, which is our tragedy, to be stories whose endings can never be known, not even to ourselves, because we are no longer there to know them.

Let us think of it this way. Here at the heart of a canyon of light an old man and the woman he loves stand in front of an open door. Who knows what lies beyond it? But on this side of the door, there’s hope. There may after all be a life after death. He grasps her hand. She squeezes his hand. A long quest comes to an end. Here they stand in the Valley of Annihilation, with the power to disappear into the universe. And just possibly into something new.

Quichotte, a sane man, understands that it won’t happen. But on this side of the door, it’s possible, for a few last moments, to set that knowledge aside, and believe.

“Come on,” he said to Salma. “Let’s go through.”


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