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'王實味 野百合花 我们生活里缺少什么? translation: What are we lacking in life? (‘Wild Lilies’), by Wang Shiwei'

This is a translation of ‘我们生活里缺少什么?’, Part 1 of the text 野百合花 (‘Wild Lillies’), written by the Chinese writer 王實味 (‘Wang Shiwei’) in 1942 in Yan’an.

There are a few points I wasn’t too sure about in this translation - if anyone has any suggestions please share them in the comments at the end of the page.

← Preface · Part 1 · Part 2 →, by Wang Shiwei”)

野百合花 Wild Lillies


  1. What are we lacking in life?

延安青年近來似乎生活得有些不起勁,而且似乎肚子裡裝得有不舒服。 The youths at Yan'an recently have seemed to live without enthusiasm, and as if there are no good feelings in their bellies.

為什麼呢?我們生活裡缺少什麼呢? Why? What are we lacking in life?

有人會回答說:我們營養不良,我們缺少維他命,所以……。 Some people reply: "We are malnourished, we lack vitamins, so..."

另有人會回答說:延安男女的比例是“十八比一”,許多青年找不到愛人,所以……。 Others reply: "The proportion of men to women in Yan'an is 18:1 - many youths can't find partners, so...

還有人會回答說:延安生活太單調,太枯燥,缺少娛樂,所以……。 Others reply: "Our life in Yan'an is too monotonous, too dry, and lacks amusement, so..."

這些回答都不是沒有道理的。 None of these responses is unreasonable.

要吃得好一點,要有異性配偶,要生活得有趣,這些都是天經地義。 If we want to eat better, if we want partners, if we want to live more interestingly, these are all completely right and proper.

但誰也不能不承認:延安的青年,都是抱定犧牲精神來從事革命,並不是來追求食色的滿足和生活的快樂。 But no-one can deny that the youths of Yan'an all cling firmly to the spirit of sacrifice in order to carry out the revolution, and are certainly not pursuing fulfillment of their lust and hunger or amusement in life.

說他們不起勁,甚至肚子裡裝著不舒服,就是為了這些問題不能圓滿解決,我不敢輕於同意。 Saying that they lack enthusiasm, even that there is no good feeling in their bellies, is only because we can't offer a satisfactory solution to these problems; I don't dare to agree with that too readily.

那麼,我們生活裡到底缺些什麼呢? So, what exactly are we lacking in life?

下面一段談話可能透露一些消息。 The following talk may give some insight.

新年假期中,一天晚上從友人處歸來。 During the New Year vacation, one evening I was coming home from a friend's house.

昏黑裡,前面有兩個青年女同志在低聲而興奮地談著話。 In the twilight, ahead I saw two young female comrades speaking quietly and excitedly.

我們相距丈多遠,我放輕腳步凝神諦聽著: Once I was within ten feet of them, I lightened my footsteps and concentrated, listening carefully:

“……動不動,就說人家小資產階級平均主義; "They are always ready to accuse others of petty bourgeois egalitarianism;

其實,他自己倒真有點特殊主義。 actually, he seems to embrace elitism.

事事都只顧自己特殊化,對下面同志,身體好也罷壞也罷,病也罷,死也罷,差不多漠不關心!” Everyone only takes care of their own particulars; as for the comrades underneath them, if they break their bodies then they break their bodies, if they're ill they're ill, if they die they die, and they pretty much don't care!"

“哼,到處烏鴉一般黑,我們底××同志還不也是這樣!” "Ugh! Everywhere the crows and ravens are the same black - our comrade so-and-so is like that too!"

“說得好聽!階級友愛呀,什麼呀——屁! "What flowery language they use! Fraternal class love - what's that? Bullshit!

好像連人對人的同情心都沒有! It seems like there isn't even sympathy between people!

平常見人裝得笑嘻嘻,其實是皮笑肉不笑,肉笑心不笑。 They often greet people with smiles; actually their skin laughs but insides don't, or their insides laugh but their heart doesn't.

稍不如意,就瞪起眼睛,搭出首長架子來訓人。” Whenever they are a bit offended, they’d glower at you, put on the air of a senior member and chide you."

“大頭子是這樣,小頭子也是這樣。 "The big-wigs are like that, and so are the underlings.

我們底科長,×××,對上是畢恭畢敬的,對我們,卻是神氣活現,好幾次同志病了,他連看都不伸頭看一下。 Our section chief, so-and-so, to his seniors he's reverent and deferential, but to us, even though his manner is lively, several times when comrades have been ill, he doesn't even turn his head to take a look.

可是,一次老鷹抓了他一隻小雞,你看他多麼關心這件大事呀! But, one time an eagle took one of his chicks, and look how much he cared about that incident!

以後每次看見老鷹飛來,他卻嚎嚎的叫,扔土塊去打它——自私自利的傢伙!” After that, every time he saw an eagle flying over, he'd howl and shout at it, throw bits of mud at it - a bastard who's all for himself and his personal gain!"

沉默了一下。 They were silent for a moment.

我一方面佩服這位女同志口齒尖利,一方面惘然若有所失。 Whilst I admired the cutting mouth of this female comrade, at the same time I felt disappointed as if I had lost something.

“害病的同志真太多了,想起來叫人難過。 "There really are too many comrades falling sick, and thinking of it makes you sad.

其實,害病,倒並不希望那類人來看你。 Actually, if you fall ill, you really don't want that kind of person to see you.

他只能給你添難受。 He'll only add to your suffering.

他底聲音、表情、態度,都不使你感覺他對你有什麼關懷、愛護。” His voice, his expression, his attitude - none of it makes you feel that he cares about you or wants to take care of you."

“我兩年來換了三四個工作機關,那些首長以及科長、主任之類,真正關心幹部愛護幹部的,實在太少​​了。” "In two years I've changed work unit three or four times, but those senior members and section chiefs, the leadership category, the ones who really care about the cadres and cherish the cadres, they truly are few and far between."

“是呀,一點不也錯!他對別人沒有一點愛,別人自然也一點不愛他。” "That's right - not a word wrong! They have no love for other people, so naturally other people have no love for them."

要是做群眾工作,非垮台不可……。 "If they take this attitude in doing mass work, it will definitely be their undoing…"

她們還繼續低聲興奮地談著。 They continued to speak quietly and excitedly.

因為要分路,我就只聽到這里為止,這段談話也許​​有偏頗,有誇張,其中的“形象”也許沒有太大的普遍性: Because I was taking a different road, I only heard up to that point, this conversation may be biased and exaggerated, and what they described may not be generally applicable...

但我們決不能否認它有鏡子底作用。 but we can't deny that it had the function of a mirror.

我們生活裡到底缺少什麼呢? What are we lacking in life?

鏡子裡看吧。 Look in the mirror.

← Preface · Part 1 · Part 2 →, by Wang Shiwei”)

← Preface · Part 1

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