英语学习杂志 2016-03-22 15:48





By Kate Chambers

吴悠 选 温纯 注

I am sitting in a car in the Swedish capital of Stockholm with my baby sister and her husband of four days.

“Where do you want to go?” Edie asks.

It’s drizzling. This beautiful city, where sailboats and cruise ships plow past at what seems to be an arm’s length away, is mine for just one more day. Then I must head back to Africa.

“Where is the library?”

If Johan is surprised, he doesn’t show it. “Not far. It’s a great place. It was designed by a famous architect, Gunnar Asplund.”

Johan stops outside a building with a chunky central tower. It is ocher red, making me think suddenly of the rich clay soil back in Zimbabwe.

We slip inside. My first impression is of light and space. People tap away at small workstations. The books, shelf after glorious shelf of them, line the walls, like upended LEGO bricks.

Edie, my fashion-designer sister whom I see so rarely, is by my side.

“I presented one of my collections here,” she whispers. “The models came down from that middle bit, where the light is.”

She’s just given me another snippet to add to my library anthology.

For as long as I can remember, libraries have been the stages where my stories unfold. That imposing university library in England, for instance, in which I whiled away so many hours reading up on Dante, Boccaccio, and that medieval French writer I nearly dedicated my life to.

It’s been more than a decade and a half since I flashed my library card for the last time there. I recal—how could I forget?—the hush of the reading room, the chilly rabbit warrens of “book stacks” (open-access shelves) you could lose yourself in.

But my sharpest memory is of my friend Clare and the Marmite sandwiches she and I shared on the steps of that library on Saturday mornings. As we waited for her Colombian fiancé to cycle to meet us, we batted our dreams back and forth: Should we do doctorates once we’d finished our master’s theses? Or should we stop there, turn our backs on the siren call of the university library, and step out into the “real” world?

Clare stayed on. Happily for me, the world beyond that particular library turned out to be full of libraries, too.

In Nice, southern France, where I spent a sun-splashed year teaching English, I knew and loved a dark little library far off the beaten tourist track. It stood in a housing project where youths threaded their way through the gray towers on skateboards.

Marie, the mother of a friend, tut-tutted at their acrobatics as she made her weekly trip to the library to feed her passion for historical novels. Then, books in hand, she and I would take an elevator seven floors up to her apartment where we sipped tisane, an herbal tea, and nibbled sables, flat French cookies.

Later, living in Paris, I rode the escalators up the see-through tunnels to the library in Pompidou Centre. Sometimes after a shift distributing photocopies of page layouts in the newsroom of the now-defunct International Herald Tribune, I sat among the earnest French students leafing through books about film.

I wasn’t quite sure where the photocopies would take me. But I believed they’d take me somewhere.

These days I hop into a taxi several times a month and head for a small, sparsely stocked library in Sakubva, a township in Mutare, in eastern Zimbabwe.

Taxi driver Wellington fills me in on family news and asks after my father-in-law. We dip under the Coca-Cola Bridge. Fuchsia-pink bougainvillea bushes and flourishing vegetable gardens flash past the window.

The Sakubva Library and Technology Centre is next to what was until recently a school exam coaching center. I can hear the shouts from a nearby game of netball .

Wellington and I unload the latest box of books that well- wishers – a fair proportion of them readers of this newspaper – have sent to Zimbabwe, where books are scarce and expensive.

The assistant librarian comes toward me, clapping his hands in thanks.

The Sakubva library is where stories will happen and memories will be made – for me and for many other readers.


1. drizzle: 下毛毛细雨。

2. 我将在这个漂亮的城市多呆一天,帆船和游艇在触手可及的地方破浪而行。cruise ship: 游船;plow: 破浪前进。

3. chunky: 粗短的。

4. 外墙是赭红色的,让我突然想起津巴布韦盛产的粘土。ocher: 赭色;clay soil: 粘土。

5. tap away: 敲打电脑键盘。

6. 壮观的书架一排连着一排,靠墙站立,像倒置的乐高积木。upended: 颠倒的,倒放的;LEGO: 乐高玩具积木。

7. fashion-designer: 时装设计师。

8. collection: 服装系列。

9. snippet:(消息、新闻等的)片段;anthology: 文选,诗选。

10. unfold: 展开,开始。

11. 比如我在英格兰读书时那座恢宏的大学图书馆,我在里面消磨掉不少时光,读但丁,读卜伽丘,还有那位我一生都在研读的中世纪法国作家的作品。imposing: 壮观的,气势宏伟的;while away: 消磨时间;read up to: 研读;Dante: 但丁,意大利诗人;Boccaccio: 卜伽丘,文艺复兴时期意大利作家,《十日谈》的作者;medieval: 中世纪的。

12. 我回想起——我又怎么会忘记呢?——那个肃静的阅览室,那片阴冷的立有密密麻麻书架的区域(存取开放书架),让人沉浸其中。chilly: 寒冷的;rabbit warren: 文中指密集杂乱的区域。

13. Marmite: 马麦酱,英国的一种酵母酱,用于涂抹食品或制调味品。

14. doctorate: 博士学位;theses: 学位论文。

15. turn one’s backs on: 不理睬,背弃;siren call: Siren是希腊神话里面的美人鱼,美若天仙,但以吃人为生。她们被囚禁在一个岛上,为了引诱路过船只的水手们上岸吃掉他们,她们唱出天籁般的歌声。“siren call”用来指诱人的召唤,致命的诱惑。

16. 我在法国南部阳光充沛的尼斯教了一年英语,在一个远离游客的僻静地方找到一间黑暗的小图书馆。beaten: 踏平的这里指游人络绎不绝的。

17. 图书馆坐落在一处住宅区,年轻人总是踩着滑板穿行于灰色的高楼之间。housing project: 住宅区;thread: 穿过,穿行;skateboard: 滑板。

18. 我朋友的母亲玛丽,每周会去图书馆阅读她喜爱的历史小说,每当看到这些年轻人的“特技表演”,她就发出厌恶的啧啧声。tut-tut:(书面语中表示反对、厌烦、同情等发出的)啧啧声,咂嘴声;acrobatics: 杂技技艺;杂技表演。

19. 然后我和她手里拿着书,乘坐电梯上到七楼,在她的公寓里,我们一起啜饮草药茶,品食扁平的法式曲奇。tisane: 草药茶;nibble: 一点点地咬。

20. see-through tunnel: 透明通道;Pompidou Centre: 蓬皮杜中心,坐落于法国巴黎波堡区的现代艺术博物馆。

21. defunct:(指做法、法律等)不再使用的,不复存在的;International Herald Tribune: 《国际先驱论坛报》是一份英文国际性报纸,总部设在巴黎。现属于纽约时报公司全额拥有,已更名为《国际纽约时报》(International New York Times)。leaf through: 快速地翻阅。

22. sparsely stocked: 藏书量不多的。

23. 浅莲红色的叶子花丛和繁茂的菜园在车窗外飞驰而过。fuchsia-pink: 浅莲红色;bougainvillea: 叶子花。

24. netball: 无挡板篮球(一种流行于英国等国家的女子篮球)。

25. 我和惠灵顿把最后一箱书卸下来,那是好心人——相当部分是该报读者——捐赠给津巴布韦的,该国家书籍十分稀缺和昂贵。

(来源:英语学习杂志 编辑:丹妮)

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