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Walk into the Future in Solitude by Jia Pingwa

Translated by Liu Xiaofeng

Proofread by Robin Gilbank


A lot of people complain about their own loneliness, and those who complain about it are actually not lonely at all. Loneliness does not mean being isolated and forsaken but means being misunderstood and lacking intimate friends. In the true sense, the loner is one who never expresses his loneliness and instead occasionally utters some long and loud cry, just like the beasts we observe in the wilderness.


The weak are all social beings, thus they are referred to as the sentient beings. The weak struggle to transform themselves into the strong, just as a pupa transforms itself into a moth. But once the process is achieved, they will lose their original purpose which was to satisfy and savor their desires. So is the life of the king, and so is that of a celebrity. Accordingly, it becomes a sort of profession for tycoons to earn money and it is not for the sake of love that the swine breeds.


I have seen quite a few of victims of depression as well as those who wear weird hairstyles or tattoos and try to impress others with their loneliness and have thus concluded that that is not lonely but of eccentric disposition. They want to be the wheat in June and instead with merely a foot tall they sprout ears and produce grains whose size is as tiny as the fly’s head.


Invariably, there are loners in every walk of life, and I have encountered one within the literary world. This is a person whose fame has spread across the country, meanwhile the libel on whom has blotted out the sky and the earth. However, he always keeps mute, unmoved by either favors or insults, and lives an ordinary life and dedicates himself to writing. But I know that he is lonely.


   “Sir,” one day I approached him and said, “think about it, when everyone is fixing his eyesight on a bowl of meat and trying hard to take a portion of it, but you take the bowl and turn away. How can you avoid feeling ganged-up against?”  


   On hearing my words, he did not confirm or refute them, nor did he stop to shake my hand. All of a sudden, tears coursed down his cheeks.



 “Sir, Sir …” I chased him and wanted to say more.

 “I am not lonely,” he mumbled, leaving in haste.


I thought I was going to be his bosom friend, but I failed, and was perplexed at why he should shed tears and what he meant by “I am not lonely”.


One year later, this writer had another new work published. When in a page of his newly-published book I read eight words “sages conduct commonplace deeds, great personage live cautiously”, it finally dawned upon me. This world does not easily make one lonely, and to live among the masses requires a kind of balance, otherwise, envy will engender libel, criticism, entrapment, humiliation, vindictive attacks, and even persecution. If you are no longer extraordinary and outstanding, you will be reduced to being common and trivial. If, on the contrary, you continue to move on, move forward and finally make it impossible for the multitude to catch up with you, then the masses will cheer for you and worship you, hailing you as a deity. The deity has to savor solitude in its true sense. Those who walk into solitude will find pity and sympathy unacceptable.


   刘晓峰(1985-),男,山西临汾人,西安求学七年,毕业于西北大学外国语学院,师从胡宗锋教授攻读硕士,于2010年获英语语言文学硕士学位,现执教于天津市中国民航大学外国语学院,讲授本科课程包括《英汉翻译》、《汉英翻译》、《文学翻译与译作赏析》、《欧洲文化入门》、《英美经典名诗导读与鉴赏》、《汉英实用修辞》,授课之余致力于文学翻译实践与理论研究,先后在美国《新文学》(New Letters)杂志和中国《英语世界》发表译作,参与《欧洲文化精要问答》,《陕西作家中篇小说英译》和《中国当代诗坛群雕108首诗歌英译》等书籍的编译工作,其中合译作品《贾平凹中篇黑氏英译》荣获西安市社会科学优秀成果一等奖。

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