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『五大误解』华盛顿邮报:关于林肯的五大误解  

2011-02-18 04:29:24|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Five myths about Abraham Lincoln 关于林肯的五大误解

By Harold Holzer 作者:Harold Holzer

Thursday, February 17, 2011; 12:00 PM

No American hero, with the possible exception of George "I Cannot Tell a Lie" Washington, has been more encrusted with myth than Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln did boast virtues that required little embellishment. He rose from obscurity through hard work, self-education and honesty. He endured venomous criticism to save the Union and end slavery. He died shortly after his greatest triumph at the hands of an assassin. But tall-tale-tellers have never hesitated to rewrite Lincoln's biography. On Presidents' Day, it's well worth dispelling some perennial misconceptions about the man on the $5 bill.
除了那个“我绝不说谎”的华盛顿,美国历史上应该找不出第二个跟林肯一样被各种各样误解涂满的英雄人物了。林肯确实有不少众所周知的美德,比如靠自己白手起家,比如自学成才,比如一诺千金。在无数恶毒批评的压力下,他拯救了美国联邦也终止了奴隶制。取得人生最大成就后不久,他就死于一个刺客之手。尽管如此,造神运动者们从来没有放过重写他传记的机会。时值总统日,修正几个关于这一五美元美钞的主人公的误解是非常有意义的。

1. Lincoln was a simple country lawyer. 林肯只是个没受过正规教育的毛脚律师。 This durable legend, personified by laconic Henry Fonda in John Ford's film "Young Mr. Lincoln," dies hard. Lincoln's law partner William H. Herndon, looking to boost his own reputation, introduced the canard that Lincoln cared little about his legal practice, did scant research, joked around with juries and judges, and sometimes failed to collect fees. Lincoln himself may have compromised his legal reputation with his oft-quoted admonition "Discourage litigation."
这种说法流传甚广,亨利·方达主演约翰·福特执导的电影《年轻的林肯先生》一片更是将此发扬光大。为给自己贴金,林肯的律师合伙人William H. Herndon传出了这种假新闻,说林肯根本不关心做律师,很少做背景研究,甚至还会跟法官和陪审团嬉皮笑脸,有时候还拿不到律师费。林肯自己的名言“以和为贵”也可能损害了一点他的律师形象。 True, politics became lawyer Lincoln's chief ambition. Still, in the 1850s he ably (and profitably) represented the Illinois Central Railroad and the Rock Island Bridge Co. - the company that built the first railroad bridge over the Mississippi River - and earned a solid reputation as one of his home state's top appeals lawyers.
诚然,政治后来确实成了林肯的首要发展领域。但19世纪50年代,他成功(且盈利地)担任了伊利诺伊州中央铁路公司以及建造了首座跨越密西西比河的铁路大桥的石岛桥公司代表律师,这一事实就说明在当地,他确实是一线成功律师之一。 Lincoln's legal papers testify to a diverse and profitable practice. Had he not been "aroused," as he put it, to speak out in 1854 against the pro-slavery Kansas-Nebraska Act before seeking a Senate seat, he likely would have remained a full-time lawyer and earned fame and fortune at the bar.
出自林肯之手的法律文书也证明他的工作非常多样化且有利可图。如果不是像他自己说的那样“觉醒”了,在1845年公开对抗支持奴隶制的堪萨斯-内布拉斯加州法案,随后竞选参议员,他很可能会一直当全职律师,而且在律师界功成名就。 2. Lincoln was gay. 林肯是同性恋 Gay rights activist Larry Kramer has long speculated that Lincoln was gay, claiming in 1999 that he'd discovered Lincoln's love letters to onetime roommate Joshua Speed. The claim is reportedly featured in Kramer's forthcoming history of homosexuality, "The American People," but historian Gabor Boritt called Kramer's assertion "almost certainly . . . a hoax."
同性恋权利活动家Larry Kramer 一直推测说林肯是同性恋。1999年他就宣称找到了林肯写给曾经的室友Joshua Speed的情书。据说Kramer即将出版的关于同性恋史的新书《美国人民》还会将此作为重点。但史学家Gabor Boritt却认为Kramer的说法“几乎可以肯定是……骗局” Still, the idea persists. In 2005, "The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln," written by queer theory professor C. A. Tripp - a colleague of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey - purported to prove that Lincoln was an active homosexual who married only to conform to 19th-century convention and continued flirting and sleeping with young men throughout his presidency. Tripp went so far as to suggest that Lincoln's sexual indifference is what contributed to his wife's mental illness.
即便如此,这一说法依然甚嚣尘上。2005年,性学家金赛的同事、同志理论教授C.A. Tripp撰写的《林肯私世界》一书宣称找到证据说林肯是公开的同性恋者,结婚只是迫于19世纪的社会压力。即使成为总统他依然保持了与年轻男性的调情和性关系。Tripp甚至还做出了林肯夫人的精神疾病就是因为他的性冷感的推测。 Is it true? And if it is, does it matter? According to Herndon, Lincoln exhibited a "powerful" attraction to women and was a regular customer in prairie brothels before his marriage at age 33. His first son was born just nine months after his marriage, which suggests enthusiasm if not experience. Then again, proving that a man loves women isn't the same as proving that he doesn't love men. Maybe it's best to throw up our hands - and remember that Lincoln's sexual orientation is but a small part of his historical legacy.
这是真的吗?还是假的?这重要吗?根据Herndon的说法,林肯对女性有着“强大”的吸引力,而且33岁成婚前一直是妓院的常客。他的第一个儿子在他结婚9个月后就出生了。这即使不能说明他经验丰富也至少说明他对男女之事的热衷。但话又说回来,能证明一个男人爱女人也不能就说他不爱男人。可能我们最好还是举手投降,同时谨记林肯的性倾向只是他历史事迹中的极小一部分吧。 3. Lincoln was depressed. 林肯有抑郁症 Four generations of biographers attest that Lincoln was often morose, but Washington College's Joshua Wolf Shenk made the case in his recent book, "Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled his Greatness," that the 16th president was clinically depressed. Lincoln certainly had moments of what he called the "hypo," most notably when his first serious crush, Ann Rutledge, died in 1835, and again when he broke up with fianc?e Mary Todd on the eve of their nuptials in 1841. (They reconciled the next year.)
四代史学家都认为林肯常常情绪低落,华盛顿大学的Joshua Wolf Shenk则是第一个在其新书《林肯的忧郁:抑郁症如何挑战且成就了一位总统的伟大》中直接做出了这位第16届总统患有抑郁症的结论的。林肯确实有不少他称之为“低落郁闷”的时候,大部分都发生在他的第一次重大打击——Ann Rutledge去世于1835年时,后来则是1841年跟未婚妻Mary Todd在婚前分手时(他俩在第二年就和好了)。 Though I co-edited a collection of Lincoln papers with Shenk, we disagree on this point. Genuine depression was untreatable in the 19th century, and its victims often descended into madness or took their own lives. It is impossible to reconcile this debilitating disease with the Lincoln who labored tirelessly and effectively during his demanding presidency. Clinically depressed people often can't get out of bed, let alone command an army.
虽然我跟Shenk一起编撰了林肯作品选,我俩对这一问题的看法有所分歧。真正的抑郁症在19世纪是没办法治愈的,当时不少患者都会最终发疯或者自杀。林肯在担任工作强度巨大的总统期间,曾不眠不休而仍然高效地工作。这种表现跟这种使人衰弱的病症很难扯上关系。临床抑郁者的病人连起床都困难,更别说指挥军队了。 Was Lincoln sad? Sure - his son Willie died of fever in the White House in 1862, while the president himself led a war that would take the lives of 600,000 other young men. It would be far more remarkable had Lincoln remained perennially jolly.
林肯是不是一个伤感的人呢?当然是的。当他的儿子Willie1862年在白宫死于高烧时,林肯则在领军打仗,一场可能危及60万年轻人的战争,这样的情况下,如果林肯能一直保持开朗才更奇怪吧。 4. Lincoln was too compassionate. 林肯心太软 Much has been made by poet and Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg and other historians over the notion that Lincoln was a serial pardoner. This is untrue - Lincoln not only approved the execution of deserters, but 38 alleged Indian raiders were hanged by his order in Mankato, Minn. on Dec. 26, 1862, still the largest mass execution on U.S. soil.
诗人兼林肯传记作者Carl Sandburg 以及一些史学家都认为林肯是一个常常宽恕别人的人。这并不属实,林肯不仅批准了对逃兵格杀勿论的命令,而且下令在1862年12月26日将38名印度袭击者绞死在明尼苏达州曼凯托,造成了这场美国领土上最大规模的集体死刑事件。

Meanwhile, Lincoln conducted the bloodiest war in American history to preserve the Union, authorized the deployment of deadly new weaponry such as mines, ironclad warships and niter (a 19th-century version of napalm), and accepted unprecedented casualties for his chosen cause.
同时,为维护联邦,林肯也指挥了一些美国历史上最为血腥的战役;授权开发了众多杀伤性巨大的新武器,比如地雷、装甲舰以及硝石(19世纪的固态汽油)等;以及为取得胜利制造大量伤亡等。

The recent scandal over an altered National Archives pardon - a document allegedly changed by historian Thomas P. Lowry in 1998 to make it appear that Lincoln spent his final hours pardoning a soldier for desertion - gives us the opportunity to reconsider the chronic oversimplification of Lincoln's soft touch. In light of the Archives melee, historians should re-examine the thousands of pardons Lincoln issued to weigh their authenticity and balance them against the death sentences he did allow.
最近有一丑闻,是关于国家档案馆公布的一份赦免证明历史学家Thomas P. Lowry1998年造假,制造出林肯在弥留时刻还赦免了一个逃兵的假象的。这给了我们一个重新认识之前刻板而过于简单化的林肯是大善人的形象的机会。随着更多档案的解密,历史学家可以重新审视林肯的数千份赦免令,看看这些是否真实,也应该加上林肯批发的众多死刑判决一并考虑。 5. Lincoln was mortally ill. 林肯身患绝症 No shortage of armchair physicians are ready to diagnose Lincoln 150 years after his death. He had cardiovascular disease, some say. Or he had the rare genetic disorder Marfan's Syndrome. Or he had the fatal cancer MEN2B. Had Lincoln not been assassinated on April 14, 1865, medical historians like John Sotos imply, he would have died soon enough without John Wilkes Booth's help.
林肯虽然已经死了150年,但还是有不少医学专家在为他诊病。其中有些人认为他身患心血管疾病,还有人说他有罕见的先天疾病马凡氏综合症,还有人说他身患致命癌症MEN2B。如果按照医学历史学家John Sotos 的说法,即使他没在1865年4月14日被Wilkes Booth暗杀,也很快会因病去世。

If any of these illnesses wracked Lincoln's body during his presidency, how do we explain his inexhaustible physical constitution? Or the rarity of his wartime illnesses, limited to a mild bout of smallpox which killed his valet? How do we explain the ease with which the 56-year-old demonstrated his favorite frontier feat of strength - holding a heavy ax at arm's length between his fingers - just a few days before his death?
如果林肯真的在担任总统时患有上述疾病,他无穷尽的体力又如何解释呢?还有他战时鲜有患病,唯一一次不过是轻度天花害死了他的跟班又如何解释呢?还有,就在他死前几天,已经56岁的他还能表演他最爱的展示力量的表演:用手指把玩沉重的斧头,这有怎么说呢?

Like many presidents, Lincoln grew visibly haggard during his presidency. He also lost weight. But the physicians who attended him on his deathbed marveled at his muscular arms and chest. A weaker man, they concluded, would have died the minute he was shot. Lincoln fought off death for nine hours - hardly within the ability of a man with a pre-existing condition.
和很多总统一样,林肯在担任总统期间明显憔悴了。他也清瘦了很多。但参加他尸检的医生依然对他满是肌肉的胳膊和胸部表示惊讶。他们的结论是,再弱一点的人,在中枪的一瞬间就会身亡。而林肯则坚持了9个小时——这是一个已经身患重病的人很难做到的。 Harold Holzer , the senior vice president for external relations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was co-chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and is author of "Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter, 1860-1861."
Harold Holzer是大都会艺术博物馆的外联副主席,也是林肯两百周年组委会的主席之一,他著有《总统获选者林肯:林肯与大分裂的冬天1860至1081年》一书。

原文链接:华盛顿邮报

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