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「文學經典《科學怪人》背後的故事」- Everything You Need to Know to Read "Frankenstein"


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In 1815, the eruption of Mount Tambora plunged parts of the world into darkness and marked a gloomy period that came to be known as the Year without a Summer.
1815 年,坦博拉火山噴發後,讓一部份的世界陷入黑暗,也象徵著一段晦暗的時期,就是我們所知的「無夏之年」。

So when Mary and Percy Shelley arrived at the house of Lord Byron on Lake Geneva, their vacation was mostly spent indoors. For amusement, Byron proposed a challenge to his literary companions: Who could write the most chilling ghost story? This sparked an idea in 18-year-old Mary. Over the next few months, she would craft the story of Frankenstein.
所以當瑪麗雪萊和珀西雪萊到達拜倫勳爵位於日內瓦湖畔的屋子時,兩人幾乎是在室內度過假期的。為了找點樂子,拜倫向他的文學夥伴們提議一個挑戰:誰能寫出最恐怖的鬼故事?這讓十八歲的瑪麗想出一個點子。接下來幾個月中,她都在精心創作她的故事《科學怪人》。

Popular depictions may evoke a green and groaning figure, but that's not Mary Shelley's monster. In fact, in the book, Frankenstein refers to the nameless monster's maker, Dr. Victor Frankenstein. So tense is the struggle between creator and creature that the two have merged in our collective imagination. Before you read or reread the original text, there are several other things that are helpful to know about Frankenstein and how it came to assume its multiple meanings.
想起科學怪人,那些最有名的描述可能會使我們聯想到渾身灰綠又咆嘯不已的怪物形象,但那並不是瑪麗雪萊筆下的怪物。事實上,雪萊書中的 Frankenstein 其實是指那隻無名怪物的創造者:Victor Frankenstein 博士。創造者與怪物之間的關係非常緊繃,以致兩人融合成了我們的集體想像。在閱讀或重讀原著之前,這裡是一些有助於了解《科學怪人》的事情,以及讓我們了解這故事如何展現出多層意涵。

The book traces Dr. Frankenstein's futile quest to impart and sustain life. He constructs his monster part-by-part from dead matter and electrifies it into conscious being. Upon completing the experiment, however, he's horrified at the result and flees. But time and space aren't enough to banish the abandoned monster, and the plot turns on a chilling chase between the two.
故事要追溯到科學家 Victor Frankenstein 博士徒勞無功地追求創造及維持生命。他撿了屍塊一片一片拼起他的怪物,並利用電擊,使他變成有意識的生命體。然而,完成實驗時,他卻被實驗的結果嚇壞了,奪門而出逃走。但時間與空間也無法放逐這個被拋棄的怪物,接著情節便轉向科學家與怪物之間恐怖的追逐賽。

Shelley subtitled her fireside ghost story The Modern Prometheus. That's in reference to the Greek myth of the Titan Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humanity. This gave humanity knowledge and power, but for tampering with the status quo, Prometheus was chained to a rock and eaten by vultures for eternity. Prometheus enjoyed a resurgence in the literature of the romantic period during the 18th century. Mary was a prominent romantic and shared the movement's appreciation for nature, emotion, and the purity of art.
雪萊為她在火爐邊寫出的鬼故事下了一個副標題:現代普羅米修斯。這取材自希臘神話中的泰坦巨神普羅米修斯,他從天神手中偷了火給人類。這讓人類有了知識與力量,但破壞現狀的普羅米修斯被栓在石頭上,並得永遠遭受禿鷹的啄食。普羅米修斯在十八世紀浪漫主義時期的文學中重生。瑪麗是著名的浪漫主義作家,推崇浪漫主義運動對自然、情感以及藝術純粹的欣賞。

Two years after Mary released Frankenstein, Percy reimagined the plight of Prometheus in his lyrical drama Prometheus Unbound. The romantics used these mythical references to signal the purity of the ancient world in contrast to modernity. They typically regarded science with suspicion, and Frankenstein is one of the first cautionary tales about artificial intelligence. For Shelley, the terror was not supernatural but born in a lab.
瑪麗出版《科學怪人》的兩年後,珀西重新想像了普羅米修斯遭遇的困境,並寫於他的抒情戲劇《解放普羅米修斯》中。這兩位浪漫主義作家運用神話故事傳達單純的古代世界與現代的對比。他們通常對科學抱持懷疑態度,而《科學怪人》正是第一部對於人工智慧的警世故事。對雪萊來說,這種恐怖並非來自超自然,而是產自實驗室。

In addition, Gothic devices infuse the text. The Gothic genre is characterized by unease, eerie settings, the grotesque, and the fear of oblivion—all elements that can be seen in Frankenstein.
除此之外,哥德式的元素也融入文本中。哥德流派的特色充斥著不安怪誕的場景、怪異風格以及被遺忘的恐懼--所有元素在《科學怪人》中無一不缺。

But this horror had roots in personal trauma as well. The text is filled with references to Shelley's own circumstances. Born in 1797, Mary was the child of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Both were radical intellectual figures. And her mother's book, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, is a key feminist text. Tragically, she died as a result of complications from Mary's birth.
但這種恐懼感也是源於個人創傷。文本中充滿雪萊自身經驗的影子。瑪麗生於 1797 年,為 William Godwin 與 Mary Wollstonecraft 之女。兩人皆為極端的知識分子。瑪麗母親的書籍《女權辯護》是重要的女性主義作品。但不幸的是,她生下瑪麗後因染上併發症而死。

Mary was haunted by her mother's death and later experienced her own problems with childbirth. She became pregnant following her elopement with Percy at 16, but that baby died shortly after birth. Out of four more pregnancies, only one of their children survived. Some critics have linked this tragedy to the themes explored in Frankenstein. Shelley depicts birth as both creative and destructive. And the monster becomes a disfigured mirror of the natural cycle of life.
瑪麗籠罩在母親死亡的陰影下,之後也經歷了生產困境。瑪麗十六歲與珀西私奔後懷孕,但嬰兒出生後沒多久就死亡了。在接下來的四次懷孕中,只有一個孩子活了下來。有些評論家將此悲劇與《科學怪人》中探索的主題連結起來。雪萊對於生命誕生的描繪既帶有創造性又充滿毀滅感。而書中的怪物變成反映生命自然循環的一面醜陋鏡子。

The monster, therefore, embodies Dr. Frankenstein's corruption of nature in the quest for glory. This constitutes his fatal flaw, or hamartia. His God complex is most clear in the line,
"Life and death appear to me ideal bounds which I should first break through and pour a torrent of light onto our dark world."
這個怪物也因此體現了科學家 Frankenstein 為追求榮耀而墮落的人性。這也造成他的致命瑕疵,或稱為缺陷。Frankenstein 的上帝情結清楚展現在他的台詞中:「生死於我而言是理想的界線,我應先衝破它,接著為這個黑暗的世界注入一瀉光明。」

Although he accomplishes something awe-inspiring, he has played with fire at his own ethical expense. And that decision echoes throughout the novel which is full of references to fire and imagery that contrasts light and dark. These moments suggest not only the spark of Prometheus's fire but the power of radical ideas to expose darker areas of life.
雖然他所做出的成就令人敬畏,但他也挑戰了道德底線。而科學家做出的那個決定貫穿並呼應整部小說,小說中充滿火焰,以及光明與黑暗的對比意象。這些片段不只暗示普羅米修斯的火帶來的火花,更意味著欲揭露生命黑暗角落這種激進想法帶來的力量。

  • 「破壞、胡亂擺弄」- Tamper With

    This gave humanity knowledge and power, but for tampering with the status quo, Prometheus was chained to a rock and eaten by vultures for eternity.
    這讓人類有了知識與力量,但破壞現狀的普羅米修斯被栓在石頭上,並得永遠遭受禿鷹的啄食。

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