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Lu Xun 'Kong Yiji' translation Pt. I

鲁迅 孔乙己 一

This is the first part of a sentence-by-sentence translation of 孔乙己 (Kong Yiji), the short-story written by 鲁迅 (Lu Xun) in March 1919.

As always, the translation here aims to be fairly literal at the expense of sounding idiomatic in English.

魯鎮的酒店的格局,是和別處不同的: The layout of Luzhen’s wine bars was unlike anywhere else:

都是當街一個曲尺形的大櫃檯, all of them faced the street with a large, right-angled bar,

櫃裡面 預備著熱水,可以隨時溫酒。 in which hot water was prepared, so that wine could be heated at any time.

做工的人,傍午傍晚散了工, The workers, when they got off work at noon or in the evening,

每每花四文銅錢,買一 碗酒, would often spend four copper coins to buy a bowl of wine

——這是二十多年前的事,現在每碗要漲到十文,—— — this was more than twenty years ago; now each bowl will have gone up by ten coins —

靠櫃外站著,熱熱的 喝了休息; then stand leaning on the bar, drinking it warm and relaxing.

倘肯多花一文, If they were willing to spend another coin,

便可以買一碟鹽煮筍,或者茴香豆,做下酒物了, then they could buy a plate of salted boiled bamboo shoots or fennel beans, to go down with the wine;

如果 出到十幾文,那就能買一樣葷菜, if they could go as far as ten coins, then they could buy a meat dish,

但這些顧客,多是短衣幫, but these customers were mostly workers in short jackets,

大抵沒有這樣闊綽。 and in general didn’t have that kind of ample wealth.

只有穿長衫的,才踱進店面隔壁的房子裡, Only those in long gowns could stroll into that room separated from the shop front by a wall,

要酒要菜,慢慢地坐喝。 demanding wine and demanding food, and drinking slowly in their seats.

我從十二歲起,便在鎮口的咸亨酒店里當伙計, Ever since I was twelve, I’d worked at the Universal Prosperity pub at the entrance to town,

掌櫃說,樣子太傻, but the manager said I looked too foolish,

怕侍候不了長衫主顧, and he feared I would be unable to wait on the customers in long gowns,

就在外面做點事罷。 so I was relegated to work in the outer room.

外面的短衣主顧, The short-jacketed customers in the outer room,

雖然容易說話, although they were easy to talk to,

但嘮嘮叨叨纏夾不清的也很不少。 they chatted idly, and their muddle-headed talk was annoying and frequent.

他們往往要親眼看著黃酒從壇子裡舀出, They would often want to see with their own eyes the yellow wine being ladled out from the jar,

看過壺子底里有水沒有, and check if the bottom of the pot had water in it or not,

又親看將壺子放在熱水里,然後放心: and then closely watch the pot being put into the hot water before they could put their minds at rest;

在這嚴重兼督下,羼水也很為難。 under this critical supervision, mixing in water really was difficult.

所以 過了幾天,掌櫃又說我幹不了這事。 So, after a few days, the manager again said that I couldn’t do this work.

幸虧薦頭的情面大,辭退不得, Fortunately, the person who had recommended me was influential, so firing me was not possible,

便改為專管溫 酒的一種無聊職務了。 and I was switched to being in charge of the boring duty of warming the wine.

我從此便整天的站在櫃檯裡,專管我的職務。 From then on I spent the whole day standing at the bar manning my post.

雖然沒有什麼失職,但總覺得有 些單調,有些無聊。 Even though there was always something to do, I always found this monotonous and boring.

掌櫃是一副兇臉孔,主顧也沒有好聲氣, The manager had a fierce face, and the customers also lacked pleasant voices,

教人活潑不得; making fun hard to achieve;

只有 孔乙己到店,才可以笑幾聲, It was only when Kong Yiji came to the shop that one could hear the sound of laughter,

所以至今還記得。 and that’s why I still remember him to this day.

Contents · Pt. II →

If you notice an error or disagree with the translation, please comment below to make this a better resource.

Series: Kong Yiji

  1. Lu Xun 'Kong Yiji' translation Pt. I (this article)
  2. Lu Xun Kong Yiji translation, Pt. II