读书人:弗洛·吉布森(Flo Gibson)

照片上的这位慈祥的大妈名叫弗洛·吉布森(Flo Gibson),an Audio-Book Reader。本月7日,她在华盛顿的家中去世,享年86岁。在我国,可能她应该会被划归“说书艺人”一类吧。但她只是读书——很平静地读书。很多人都喜欢在健身或者在驾车的时候听她和缓的朗读文学名著。她一生录制了1134部文学作品。短则几个小时,长则十二、三小时。她为经典文学的推广和普及做出了巨大的贡献。难怪《纽约时报》书评栏专文纪念她的去世。原文如下:

January 15, 2011

Flo Gibson, Grande Dame of Audiobooks, Dies at 86


Flo Gibson, who for decades read soothingly to Americans as they toiled at the gym, behind the wheel or over housework, died on Jan. 7 at her home in Washington. Mrs. Gibson, the universally acknowledged grande dame of audiobooks, was 86.

The cause was cancer, her daughter Carrie Gibson said. At her death, Mrs. Gibson was halfway through taping “Les Misérables,” which would have been, give or take a title or two, the 1,134th recorded book of her career.

Mrs. Gibson was the founder of, and chief reader for, Audio Book Contractors, which she ran for nearly three decades from a specially built recording studio in the basement of her home. The company produces audiobooks for sale to libraries and individual consumers.

Audio Book Contractors, which specializes in unabridged recordings of the classics, seeks out an audience for whom a well-told story on tape and the latest bodice-ripper tend to be mutually exclusive. (That said, Mrs. Gibson did record “East Lynne,” an 1861 novel by Mrs. Henry Wood that The Chicago Tribune once cheerfully described as “riveting Victorian smut.”)

Known for her impeccable diction — she was a former radio actress — and scrupulous fealty to the text, Mrs. Gibson narrated everything from “The Wind in the Willows” to capacious adult books like “Pride and Prejudice” (11 hours, 41 minutes) and “Middlemarch,” which spans 31 hours, 7 minutes, over 24 cassettes, an effort that took her more than 10 weeks in the studio.

Today, thousands of audiobooks appear annually — read by authors, celebrities and professional voice-over artists — and other companies besides hers do the classics. But Mrs. Gibson’s work, colleagues say, was notable on several counts.

For one thing, she was an early entrant in the field, starting out in the mid-1970s recording talking books for the blind for the Library of Congress. She went on to found Audio Book Contractors well before recorded books were commonplace in stores and libraries.

For another, she was almost certainly the field’s most prolific practitioner. A busy voice-over artist might typically narrate several hundred books in a career; to record more than 1,100, as Mrs. Gibson did, is almost beyond contemplation.

What was more, reviewers agreed that if one were to invest, say, the 36 hours and 7 minutes required to hear “Anna Karenina,” then there was no better voice to hear it in than Mrs. Gibson’s: deep and throaty, it evoked a firm but favorite schoolteacher and let her juggle men’s and women’s roles with ease.

Mrs. Gibson was also praised for her meticulous preparation (to tackle the Brontë sisters, she haunted Yorkshire to soak up dialect) and for the intimate compact that appeared to exist between her and the listener. As she often said, she approached every narration as if she were playing to an audience of one.

Her scrapbooks of fan mail attest to the results. An upholsterer’s assistant once wrote Mrs. Gibson to say that her “Pride and Prejudice” had made “the stitches melt down into insignificance” as she labored over an antique chair.

Florence Corona Anderson was born in San Francisco on Feb. 7, 1924. After earning a bachelor’s degree in dramatic literature from the University of California, Berkeley, she studied with the noted acting teacher Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York.

She acted in several West Coast radio serials — including “Pat Novak for Hire,” which starred a young Jack Webb — before marrying Carlos Gibson, a Peruvian diplomat, and raising four children.

Soon after her youngest child left for college, Mrs. Gibson auditioned for the Library of Congress and was accepted. She later narrated books on tape for several commercial producers before starting Audio Book Contractors in 1983.

As Mrs. Gibson discovered, a narrator’s experience of literature differs crucially from a civilian’s. Though she adored Henry James, she was often moved to shake her fist and shout at him: “Why don’t you punctuate? Why don’t you paragraph?” She invariably forgave him, though, and recorded much of his work.

Mrs. Gibson’s husband, whom she married in 1947, died in 1989. Besides her daughter Carrie, she is survived by two other daughters, Nancy Gibson, known as Derry, and Katherine Gibson Bolland; a brother, Buck Anderson; and three grandchildren. A son, Chris, died in 1985.

Audio Book Contractors, which offers hundreds of books on tape and CD, continues to operate. Many of its titles, including dozens narrated by Mrs. Gibson, can also be purchased as digital downloads from audible.com.

What with treadmills and traffic and troublesome chairs, her voice will soothe listeners for decades to come.

The Reader的震撼

刚才完整地看了一边The Reader。到现在激动的心情仍然还没有平静下来。这部影片获得5项奥斯卡提名当之无愧。按我个人的愿望,我觉得它至少应该获得5个提名中的3个奖项——最佳女主角、最佳导演奖、和最佳影片奖。

有人说这是一部爱情片。我不觉得。不谈原作所背负的厚重的历史,就说电影本身,就我的观感而言,导演Stephen Daldry让Micheal Berg所讲述的故事的重心也并非落实在爱情故事这个点上。毋庸讳言,Berg 与Hanna Schmitz的关系当然包含了爱情的成份。不过想想,那个时候的Berg还不到16岁,以性事为核心的所谓爱情也只持续了一个夏天。你觉得那个时候的他懂得什么是爱情吗?不过那段经历肯定会给他的心理留下阴影倒是肯定的。所以当Berg在法庭上再次见到Schmitz的时候,他内心的矛盾可想而知。其中我觉得应该有不少的怨恨。也正因为如此,他才会被一种沉重的负罪感所压迫。因为,正如他是唯一知道Schmitz秘密的人一样,也只有他自己才知道,到底是什么原因才使他没有说出真相。从这个角度来看,Berg后来为Schmitz所做的一切其实只是在赎罪,是为了让自己得到解脱。同时,Berg又时时用一种历史正确和政治正确的态度作为幌子来掩盖自己真实的内心感受。直到他和Schmitz最后一次见面的时候,他还在做着同样的事情(他询问Hanna对过去的思考)。他的询问其实还是在把他曾经所做(或者说没有做)的事变得合理而已。

影片最令人震撼的主题应该是Hanna Schmitz宁愿过度担当她本不应担当的沉重罪责,而不愿意承认自己是个文盲,是个不会阅读不会书写的人。是的,她的法庭辩解确实说明了她的愚昧和无知。而我们了解真相的人发现她是那么的可怜。她其实内心充满了善良。是愚昧无知让她盲目地遵守工作的规程(对于她来说,所发生的一切只是平常的工作规程而已);是愚昧无知让她犯下了她自己无法理解的罪过。无论如何,她犯下的是不可原谅的罪孽。而真正造成她犯错的原因却是她的愚昧,她的愚昧是因为她的不会阅读。所以,“不会阅读”才是她一身中最大的耻辱。

我还有一个感觉就是,这部电影还在探讨一个非常重大的话题,即对于历史反思的反思。就像影片中那位情绪激昂的Berg的同学所说那样,对于那段历史,只找出几个人来宣判他们有罪,然后其他的人就坦然了,这样就够了吗?尤其像Schmitz这样的所谓罪犯。她们又为什么会成为罪犯呢?其实,对于大多数普通人来说,Hanna Schmitz在法庭上反问法官的问题“如果是你,你又会怎么做?”会是什么样的答案呢?当然现在肯定会有很多人说,我决不会那么干。可是今天我们的身边有没有像Hanna Schmitz这样的人呢?这样的人少吗?

当然,关于历史反思的反思,这是一个过于庞大和严肃的社会话题。一部小说解决不了。一部电影也解决不了。不过能引起人们的思考,作品的意义就实现了。不过这需要有读者和观众的参与才行。不知道The Reader的观众有多少能够参与到这种反思中来呢?……


最后再说一句:凯特·温斯莱特(Kate Winslet)在这部影片中的表现真是太棒了。