LOVE IN A FALLEN CITY

Target text—-Translated by Karen S. Kingsbury

As soon as the door closed behind her, the drawing room fell into shadow. Two squares of yellow light streamed in through the glass panes in the upper part of the door, landing on the green tile floor. In spite of the gloom, one could see, on the bookshelves that lined the walls, long rows of slipcases made of purplish sandalwood into which formal-script characters had been carved, then painted green. On a plain wooden table in the middle of the room, there was a cloisonné chiming clock with a glass dome over it. The clock was broken; it hadn’t worked in years. There were two hanging scrolls with paired verses; the crimson paper of the scrolls was embossed with gold “longevity” characters, over which
the verses had been in-scribed in big, black strokes. In the dim light, each word seemed to float in emptiness, far from the paper’s surface. Liusu felt like one of those words, drifting and unconnected. The Bai household was a fairyland where a single day, creeping slowly by, was a thousand years in the outside world. But if you spent a thousand years here, all the days would be the same, each one as flat and dull as the last one.

Source text

倾城之恋  张爱玲

门掩上了,堂屋里暗着,门的上端的玻璃格子里透进两方黄色的灯光,落在青砖地上。朦胧中可以看见堂屋里顺着墙高高下下堆着一排书箱,紫檀匣子,刻着绿泥款识。正中天然几上,玻璃罩子里,搁着珐蓝自鸣钟,机括早坏了,停了多年。两旁垂着朱红对联,闪着金色寿字团花,一朵花托住一个墨汁淋漓的大字。在微光里,一个个的字都像浮在半空中,离着纸老远。流苏觉得自己就是对联上的一个字,虚飘飘的,不落实地。白公馆有这么一点像神仙的洞府:这里悠悠忽忽过了一天,世上已经过了一千年。可是这里过了一千年,也同一天差不多,因为每天都是一样的单调与无聊。流苏交叉着胳膊,抱住她自己的颈项。七八年一霎眼就过去了。你年轻么?不要紧,过两年就老了,这里,青春是不希罕的。他们有的是青春——孩子一个个的被生出来,新的明亮的眼睛,新的红嫩的嘴,新的智慧。一年又一年的磨下来,眼睛钝了,人钝了,下一代又生出来了。这一代便被吸收到朱红洒金的辉煌的背景里去,一点一点的淡金便是从前的人的怯怯的眼睛。

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