Monday, November 03, 2008

Alas, Béatrice

“...If Béatrice was never all of a piece, if on the contrary she was composed of a thousand closely related yet contradictory pieces, she was nonetheless always and in all circumstances wholly each and every one of these pieces. And as she never felt divided, never at a distance from herself, she could be completely hard or completely tender in succession, completely idiotic or completely lucid. Indeed, perhaps the reason she could never share her feelings with anyone else was that she had never been able to admit the ambiguities in them. On the other hand, this counterfeit façade – an armour so shabby and patched that no medieval knight would have dared to put it on – had sheltered her from countless blows, to say nothing of hard knocks. She had never let herself slip into comfortable friendships or reassuring confidences. In fact, she had never slipped into anything that could be called a habit. Her entourage, including all friends, male and female, as well as her lovers, had always been alternately subject to savage ill-treatment or equally savage adoration, and none of those who approached her ever had the right to trust her. Yet if they could expect anything and everything from her, they could also take a certain comfort in her unpredictability. They could be sure, absolutely sure, that she was as capable of holding out her hand to pull them from the water or of stepping on their heads while they drowned. And they could also be sure she would do both with the same absence of calculation and the same clear conscience.”

Françoise Sagan, The Unmade Bed

很美的一段文章, describing quite a typical kind of spontaneous and whimsical French woman, almost reminds me of Catherine (in Jules et Jim). Barely almost, because it was actually referring to Béatrice. (多麼可惜, she doesn't deserve all these attributions!)

我並不喜歡 Béatrice ,至少是 Those without Shadow 裡的 Béatrice 。太無腦了。她是我看過的莎岡人物裡,最無腦的一個,她的「背叛」(加上括號是因為她自己不會稱之為背叛)是為背叛而背叛,而且帶點功利的,她是空洞的,也從來沒有其他 Sagan girls 的自省。不要開始謾罵,我並不是忽然「道德」起來(我話知有幾多個男人爬過上她的床!),而是她的興之所至確實毫不動人:缺乏那種無知(或者也可稱之為神經質)與漫不經心的魅力。她清楚知道自己的自私自利會為其他人帶來怎樣的後果,即使 how much it is absent from calculation 。 In short ,她是個徹底的俗物。

她最初出現在 Those without Shadow ,後來又在 The Unmade Bed 登場。 Those without Shadow 是莎岡比較難看的一本小說,寫法國文化界的幾對男女,各各藤絆牽連,又各有各的造化,但索然無味,有偷情,欠激情,瀰漫著有心無力的勉為其難。最初以為是莎岡晚年的作品,後來知道是第三部小說,即緊接在 A Certain Smile 之後,嚇了好一大跳:怎麼一下子老了這許多?

是因為莎岡不甘心嗎?書裡其中兩對人物──比較年輕的兩對,在其後的小說裡繼續談他們未談完的情,效果倒又不錯。其中一對是 Josée 與她那強逼性吃醋的憂鬱丈夫 Alan,在 Wonderful Clouds 裡繼續折磨,和被折磨。另一對是這位無腦的 Béatrice 和曾被她拋諸腦後的──無獨有偶地又是──憂鬱且情深的,Édouard ,分開五年後 they share The Unmade Bed 。(可以在這兩本小說裡感受到她的普魯斯特情結:相信我,這兩個男人的敏感、脆弱、多疑,非常普魯斯特)

不過,我還未知道他們最後會怎樣。(說不定,我會對 Béatrice 改觀呢...)

Related: A Debt Contracted in Bed

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