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英語文法學堂:共產中國旅行團

【明報專訊】七十年代的中國尚處冷戰陰霾下。國家經濟拮据,百姓看不到前景。奇怪的是當時還有旅行團,可以想像得到外國旅客基本和去朝鮮旅遊無疑。正如Paul French 所云,travel in China was something to be endured rather than enjoyed。英國著名小說家Penelope Fitzgerald在1977年參加了一個由傳媒大亨Roy Thomson(即Thomson Reuters的前身之一Thomson Corporation的奠基人)的旅行社Thomson Holidays所辦的中國旅行團。商人辦報可獲得政治影響力,不知為何會熱衷經營旅行社,但這的確令已擁有The Times和The Sunday Times的Roy Thomson實力如日中天,直通中南海,結識周恩來。

Fitzgerald的中國之行目的不明,可能是丈夫去世要排解鬱悶,或者是要為新作取材,據她自己的說法是要賞長城雪景。文化大革命的餘溫未散,在八小時的飛機航程,耳朵要承受無間斷的紅歌,the plane's intercom still played songs praising Chairman Mao non‑stop for the duration of the eight‑hour flight。

French形容當時的北京飯店overheated and stuffy(空氣渾濁),而中國戲曲very propagandistic and totally flummoxing(使困惑)the translators with lyrics such as 'We dedicate our youth to communism'。

到了上海,她住在原名百老匯大廈的上海大廈。單調的行程令她感難耐:Fitzgerald was done in(使……極疲憊), fed up(厭煩的), boiled in steam heating, overwhelmed by children dressed up as turnips dancing to celebrate the success of Maoist agricultural collectivisation, and unsure if curious looks from locals were friendly, indifferent or hostile. She had negotiated enough rivers of weaving cyclists, drunk enough thin green tea, endured enough morning congee and bought more than enough Friendship Store(友誼商店,早年服務外賓的百貨商店) knick‑knacks(小擺設).

究竟Fitzgerald有沒有賞到雪,不得而知,但我們都理解她對Package tours的不滿。

■送好書

有興趣的讀者請用英文回答以下問題,於7月4日前連同姓名、地址及電話號碼,電郵至english@mingpao.com,經編輯選出即可獲贈Blacksmith Books送出Destination Shanghai乙本,每期名額一個。

鳴謝:Blacksmith Books

■問題 Do you like package tours? Why?

Destination Shanghai書介系列六之五

■文:林爾雍

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