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T.S. Eliot 拒絕出版《動物農莊》信件上網 稱農莊正需要更多熱心公益的豬

2016/5/27 — 14:36

英國作家奧威爾(George Orwell)諷刺蘇聯共產制度及總書記史太林的小說《動物農莊》(Animal Farm),被奉為政治諷刺文學經典之作,但原來小說出版之時曾遇阻滯,被指因為太傾向托洛斯基但又不具說服力,而遭一家出版社拒絕出版。而拒絕奧威爾的,正是諾貝爾文學獎得主、以長詩《荒原》聞名於世的大文豪艾略特(T. S. Eliot)。

英國國家圖書館近日將一批作家書信電子化,並首度在網站公開,當中包括艾略特寫給奧威爾的《動物農莊》退稿信

艾略特寫給奧威爾的《動物農莊》退稿信

艾略特寫給奧威爾的《動物農莊》退稿信

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《動物農莊》講述一群被農場主勞役的動物,成功將人類趕出農莊,並推舉出最聰明的豬來領導大家,但豬主角「拿破崙」掌權後,剷除異己並在農莊實施高壓統治,令動物再陷於另一種形式的奴役。外界普遍認為,該小說影射1917俄國革命,豬即是共產黨人,「拿破崙」影射史太林,被拿破崙逼害的另一隻豬「雪球」則影射被史太林鬥倒的托洛斯基。

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1944年,奧威爾在另一間出版社碰壁後,將《動物農莊》書稿投給艾略特任職的 Faber & Faber 出版社,遭到拒絕。在寫於1944年七月的退稿信中,艾略特盛讚《動物農莊》作為一本寓言,寫作之佳可謂繼《小人國與大人國》後,難有人可比擬。

艾略特在信中指,出版觀點逆時代主流的作品,是出版社的責任,但作品在出版社內至少要有一人認同該觀點在當下有出版的必要。艾略特稱,出版社內部認為《動物農莊》所採取的觀點,並不適宜用作批判當下政局(“we have no conviction … that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation” )。

艾略特寫道,他本人認為《動物農莊》是純粹的否定,又指該書對托洛斯基所持的正面態度,並不夠說服力,而且沒有反映其他批評俄羅斯的論點。他又指,在《動物農莊》中,豬的智力遠高於其他動物,因此確是適合管治農莊的,而且沒有豬就不可能有動物農莊。所以讀者或會覺得,動物們需要的是更多以天下為己任的豬,而不是共產主義。

有分析認為,由於當時二戰尚未結束,立場傾向保守黨的艾略特,並不想得失英國的盟國蘇聯;而艾略特指「豬是最適合管治農莊的動物」,亦表明了他對俄國政局的態度。

二戰期間,《動物農莊》被多間出版社拒絕之後,最終於1945年8月出版。在二戰結束後,歐美與蘇聯陷入冷戰,批評蘇聯的《動物農莊》亦在社會反共潮流下取得極大成功,甚至獲得美國中情局大力資助。

1972年,奧威爾為《動物農莊》寫的序言刊印,奧威爾指自己在1943年寫就此書時,已心知要出版很困難,因為「當時主流輿論要的是對蘇俄的無條件歌頌」,並寫下這段話:「出版社與編輯決定不出版針對某些議題的文字,並非因為害怕被政府檢控,而是畏懼公眾輿論。在這個國度,知識份子懦弱,是作家與記者面對的最大敵人。」

除了艾略特寫給奧威爾的退稿信,大英圖書館新近電子化的還有英國著名女作家吳爾芙(Virginia Woolf),拒絕出版喬伊斯(James Joyce)鉅作《尤利西斯》(Ulysses)的信件,原因是小說太長。

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附:艾略特退稿信全文

13 July 1944

Dear Orwell,

I know that you wanted a quick decision about Animal Farm: but minimum is two directors’ opinions, and that can’t be done under a week. But for the importance of speed, I should have asked the Chairman to look at it as well. But the other director is in agreement with me on the main points. We agree that it is a distinguished piece of writing; that the fable is very skilfully handled, and that the narrative keeps one’s interest on its own plane—and that is something very few authors have achieved since Gulliver.

On the other hand, we have no conviction (and I am sure none of other directors would have) that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation at the present time. It is certainly the duty of any publishing firm which pretends to other interests and motives than mere commercial prosperity, to publish books which go against current of the moment: but in each instance that demands that at least one member of the firm should have the conviction that this is the thing that needs saying at the moment. I can’t see any reason of prudence or caution to prevent anybody from publishing this book—if he believed in what it stands for.

Now I think my own dissatisfaction with this apologue is that the effect is simply one of negation. It ought to excite some sympathy with what the author wants, as well as sympathy with his objections to something: and the positive point of view, which I take to be generally Trotskyite, is not convincing. I think you split your vote, without getting any compensating stronger adhesion from either party—i.e. those who criticise Russian tendencies from the point of view of a purer communism, and those who, from a very different point of view, are alarmed about the future of small nations. And after all, your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore the best qualified to run the farm—in fact, there couldn’t have been an Animal Farm at all without them: so that what was needed, (someone might argue), was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs.

I am very sorry, because whoever publishes this, will naturally have the opportunity of publishing your future work: and I have a regard for your work, because it is good writing of fundamental integrity.

Miss Sheldon will be sending you the script under separate cover.

Yours sincerely,

T. S. Eliot

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