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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 14:59:51
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But what, the reader may ask with some exasperation, happened in between. In three hours, such a company must have said the wittiest, the profoundest, the most interesting things in the world. So it would seem indeed. But the fact appears to be that they said nothing. It is a curious characteristic which they share with all the most brilliant societies that the world has seen. Old Madame du Deffand and her friends talked for fifty years without stopping. And of it all, what remains? Perhaps three witty sayings. So that we are at liberty to suppose either that nothing was said, or that nothing witty was said, or that the fraction of three witty sayings lasted eighteen thousand two hundred and fifty nights, which does not leave a liberal allowance of wit for any one of them.

Accustomed to the little literatures of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, Orlando was appalled by the consequences of her order. For, of course, to the Victorians themselves Victorian literature meant not merely four great names separate and distinct but four great names sunk and embedded in a mass of Alexander Smiths, Dixons, Blacks, Milmans, Buckles, Taines, Paynes, Tuppers, Jamesons — all vocal, clamorous, prominent, and requiring as much attention as anybody else. Orlando’s reverence for print had a tough job set before it but drawing her chair to the window to get the benefit of what light might filter between the high houses of Mayfair, she tried to come to a conclusion.

‘All right then,’ Orlando said, with the good humour people practise on these occasions; and tried another. For she had a great variety of selves to call upon, far more than we have been able to find room for, since a biography is considered complete if it merely accounts for six or seven selves, whereas a person may well have as many thousand. Choosing then, only those selves we have found room for, Orlando may now have called on the boy who cut the nigger’s head down; the boy who strung it up again; the boy who sat on the hill; the boy who saw the poet; the boy who handed the Queen the bowl of rose water; or she may have called upon the young man who fell in love with Sasha; or upon the Courtier; or upon the Ambassador; or upon the Soldier; or upon the Traveller; or she may have wanted the woman to come to her; the Gipsy; the Fine Lady; the Hermit; the girl in love with life; the Patroness of Letters; the woman who called Mar (meaning hot baths and evening fires) or Shelmerdine (meaning crocuses in autumn woods) or Bonthrop (meaning the death we die daily) or all three together — which meant more things than we have space to write out — all were different and she may have called upon any one of them.

进到屋里,她的举止恢复了一位罗马尼亚女大公本应有的神气活现。若不是她表现出一般女子少有的对酒的了解,并对火器和本国的运动家晶头论足,而且说得很有道理,他们之间怕是无话可说。最后,她跳起来,宣布第二天还要来访,然后深深行了个屈膝礼,走掉了。第二天,奥兰多骑马跑了出来。第三天,他背转身子不理睬她。再下一天,他把窗帘拉了下来。到第五天,天下起雨来,他实在不忍心看一位女士在屋外淋雨,也并不完全反对有人陪伴,于是请她进来,拿出一副祖上披过的盔甲,问她觉得是雅可比还是特欧普打制的。他倾向特欧普,她持另一观点,其实是谁并不重要。但它对我们的故事发展有某些重要性,因为女大公海丽特为了说明她的论点,而这又与如何摆开钮结有关,所以她拿起纯金的胫罩,套在奥兰多的腿上。

Here, indeed, we lay bare rudely, as a biographer may, a curious trait in him, to be accounted for, perhaps, by the fact that a certain grandmother of his had worn a smock and carried milkpails. Some grains of the Kentish or Sussex earth were mixed with the thin, fine fluid which came to him from Normandy. He held that the mixture of brown earth and blue blood was a good one. Certain it is that he had always a liking for low company, especially for that of lettered people whose wits so often keep them under, as if there were the sympathy of blood between them. At this season of his life, when his head brimmed with rhymes and he never went to bed without striking off some conceit, the cheek of an innkeeper’s daughter seemed fresher and the wit of a gamekeeper’s niece seemed quicker than those of the ladies at Court. Hence, he began going frequently to Wapping Old Stairs and the beer gardens at night, wrapped in a grey cloak to hide the star at his neck and the garter at his knee. There, with a mug before him, among the sanded alleys and bowling greens and all the simple architecture of such places, he listened to sailors’ stories of hardship and horror and cruelty on the Spanish main; how some had lost their toes, others their noses — for the spoken story was never so rounded or so finely coloured as the written. Especially he loved to hear them volley forth their songs of ‘the Azores, while the parrakeets, which they had brought from those parts, pecked at the rings in their ears, tapped with their hard acquisitive beaks at the rubies on their fingers, and swore as vilely as their masters. The women were scarcely less bold in their speech and less free in their manner than the birds. They perched on his knee, flung their arms round his neck and, guessing that something out of the common lay hid beneath his duffle cloak, were quite as eager to come at the truth of the matter as Orlando himself.


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