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日記を兼ねて自分のスキルアップのために日々の関心事を日本語プラス英語で書いてみます。

It’s really worth reading: ほんとに面白い本「クリスマス・キャロル」

 子どもの頃家にあった,古びた子供向けの世界文学全集を開くとき,日常とは違う世界に浸っていました。ストウ夫人の「アンクル・トムの小屋」に泣き,コナン・ドイルの「赤毛連盟」の謎解きにワクワクし,エドガー・アラン・ポーの「黒猫」に暗い興奮を感じたのを覚えています。それらの作品の中でも,特に好きだったのがディケンズの「クリスマス・キャロル」でした。

 I could be absorbed in an unusual atmosphere that is quite different from daily life whenever I opened each volume of the “World Literature Series” which somehow there were in my house when I was a boy. I was moved by “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, excited with joy by “The Red=Headed League” by Conan Doyle, and thrilled with the gloomy atmosphere of “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe. The one I loved most among them was this story, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.   

「まず話のはじめから言うと,マーレイは死んだのである。」この一文から始まるクリスマス・キャロルは,手元の古い文庫本で133ページの中編小説です。初版が1843年のこの本は,この175年間でいったいどれだけの人々の心に暖かい灯をともしてきたのか計り知れません。

   “Marley was dead: to begin with”, this is the first sentence of this story which is a novella with 133 pages, in an old paperback at my hand. The first edition of this book was published in 1843, so I wonder how many people’s hearts have been warmed by it during these 175 years.

 冒頭の文にあるマーレイとともに高利貸しを営んでいたスクルージは,「絞って,ねじって,握りしめて,ひっかき集めて,つかんで離さない,強欲の,とんでもない爺」です。そんな彼はクリスマスに施しをするどころか,「叔父さん,クリスマスおめでとうございます!」とささやかな晩餐の誘いに訪れた甥に向かって,「何を,くだらんことを!」と返すだけでなく,口汚い罵りの言葉を放って追い返してしまうのでした。それから,寄付を求めに来た紳士も冷淡に追い返し,十分な火を使わせないために震えている事務所の書記に向かって,腹いせのように悪態を吐いて家に帰したスクルージは,クリスマス・イブの夕闇の中,冷たく陰気くさい自宅へと戻ります。とびきり大きな叩き金(ノッカー)の付いた玄関の戸を開けようとしたまさにそのとき,彼は見てはいけないものを見てしまいます。その叩き金のあるべき場所に彼が見たものは,死んだはずのマーレイの顔なのでした。不気味なほの暗い光に覆われて,地獄の熱気に吹かれるように髪を逆立てたその顔はしかし,すぐに消えるのですが,それは,その後に起こる恐ろしい出来事の序章に過ぎないのでした……。

  Ebenezer Scrooge, he has been a loan shark and his late joint manager was Marley, was a kind of old guy who was a “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching covetous old sinner”.  Far from donating at Christmas, he replied to his nephew’s invitation to a small dinner party with the words like “Bah!, Humbug!”, when the young man appeared saying “A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!”, then Scrooge turned him away using abusive language. After that, he also turned away a couple of gentlemen who asked him some donation for poor people, and then he let his office clerk, who was trembling due to bad heating, go home with some bad-mouth venting his anger before he went back to his place which is cold and gloomy.  It was when he was at the front door with a huge knocker and at the very time he tried to open it, he saw something that he shouldn’t see. The thing he saw at the part on the door where the huge knocker should be was the face of Marley who surely died before. The face was covered with an unearthly, dim light and the hair was standing on end as if being blown by the hell heat, and it disappeared soon, however, it was just the beginning of the series of terrible things that happened afterward.    

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 ディケンズの文章は,饒舌で可笑しみにあふれているかと思えば,妙に描写が生々しくて子供心にドキドキしたものでした。部屋着に着替えたスクルージが,暖炉のそばで薄粥をすすろうとしたときに起こった出来事の描写は,夜中にトイレに行きづらくなるような恐ろしさがありました。家中のベルがいきなり鳴り始め,誰もいないはずの地下室の戸が大きな音を立てて開くのが聞こえたのに続き,鎖を引きずる音が真っ暗な石段を這い登ってくるのです。それから部屋の戸をすり抜けて現れたのは,やはりマーレイの亡霊でした。さすがに恐れをなしたスクルージに向かい,顔の布をほどいて顎をだらりと胸まで垂らしたマーレイが告げたのは,今夜のうちにさらに3人の幽霊が訪れるという途方もない預言でした。

 マーレイの言葉通り,スクルージのもとには過去,現在,そして未来の幽霊が現れます。過去の自分に出会い,それから可哀そうな書記の息子に起ころうとしている出来事を知り,将来の自分の行く末を目の当たりにするスクルージの心のうちに起こる変化を,読者は自分のことのように感じ,大きな感動を味わい,名残惜しく,最後のページを閉じることになります。

 人が人である限り,ずっと読み継がれるお話だと思います。

 The style of Dickens is something copious, very humorous and describing things really vividly so I was thrilled with a childlike heart. The description of what happened just after Scrooge changed into his comfy cloth to have gruel sitting down before the fire was really something that made me scared to go to the bathroom late at night. All the bells in his house suddenly started to ring and the door of the basement banged open, then the sounds of chains being dragged crept up the stone steps in the pitch-darkness. What finally appeared through the closed door was definitely the ghost of Marley. Marley, who untied a cloth which had wrapped his face to let his lower jaw hang limp at his chest, announced a terrible thing to Scrooge, already fully scared, that three more ghosts would visit him that night.

  As Marley said, the three ghosts, the first one from the past, the second one from the present, and the third one from the future, came to see Scrooge. He saw himself when he was young in the past, then knew what was happening to his office clerk’s poor son, and finally saw what happened to himself when he was died, so he ended up experiencing something changing in his mind, and you could also experience the same feeling as Scrooge did to be moved, and you would reluctantly turn the last page to close the book.

  I think it is a story that will continue to be read by humans as long as they are humans.

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クリスマス・キャロル (新潮文庫)

クリスマス・キャロル (新潮文庫)

 
クリスマス・キャロル―A Christmas carol 【講談社英語文庫】

クリスマス・キャロル―A Christmas carol 【講談社英語文庫】