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【獨立書店 每周一書】致孩子

2020/3/8 — 13:24

「你的孩子不是你的,他們是生命的子女,是生命自身的渴望。他們經你而生,但非出自於你,他們雖然和你在一起,卻不屬於你。你可以給他們愛,但別把你的思想也給他們,因為他們有自己的思想。」這是黎巴嫩詩人紀伯倫的散文詩〈On Children〉。父母對於兒女的控制欲,有時是可怕的,那或許會扼殺了孩子一部分自由靈魂;人們總希望孩子看著自己的背影長大,但忘了他們其實可以跑在你前面,引領你,就像紀伯倫所寫的:「你可以勉強自己變得像他們,但別想讓他們變得像你。因為生命不會倒退,也不會駐足於昨日」。

比起命令與服從,孩子需要的也許只是平等的對話,而書可以是其中一種對話的媒介。本週書介以「Dear Children」為主題,邀請各獨立書店推薦一本讀物。

解憂舊書店介紹了耳熟能詳的《安徒生故事全集》,許多人在此書的陪伴下度過童年。安徒生以銳利眼光,捕捉現實的風景,把絢爛而憂傷,甜美也殘酷的社會現實,寫成膾炙人口的童話故事,當中勻有深邃的寓意,十分耐讀。田園書屋推薦Jon Agee 的繪本《獅子補習班》,講述小男孩上七堂補習課,渴望成為一隻「被認證」的獅子,而當中男孩表現最好的一堂課是「觀察和守護朋友」。 

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至於序言書室則選擇了德國哲學家班雅明的《柏林童年》,作者目睹納粹掌權,甚至因此而身繫囹圄,此書可說是其「絕命之辭」。此書沒有玄奧的神祕哲思,作者以不疾不徐的節奏述說他在柏林和波茨坦渡過的童年,書中包含著作者對周遭世界的細膩感受,也有二十世紀初柏林社會的縮影,亦記錄了孩童接觸「現代事物」(如電話)的經驗。

最後,清明堂寫了一封給孩子的信,並在信中分享了一本對自己影響甚深的書——普利摩・李維的《如果這是一個人》。此書是李維用冷靜樸實卻又入微的筆調寫下被囚禁於集中營十個月的回憶錄,記錄下時代的暴行,卻也留下了人性堅不可摧最有力的證據,也成為有關二戰的文學著作中,最美麗的文學作品。

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李維於1944年,隨著佛索利集中營的義大利猶太人分隊一起被運送到奧斯維辛集中營。這本書從佛索利中轉營出發開始寫起,並以這一個世紀以來四處漂泊的民族那聽天由命的沉重,貫穿全書。李維身處那殘酷時代,精準而平靜地研究:在一個泯滅人性的實驗裡,置身其中的人,能保有幾分人性。

序言書室:班雅明《柏林童年》

最近西西出版《我的玩具》,從她的《玩具》,讀者或能看出她的細緻心思。說來玩具最能反映一個人在童年時想要表現出來的自我完形,童書則表現出她/他幻想翱翔的天地,玩具也許會表現出一個人的野心擴張,例如希特勒統治柏林後,著建築師史佩爾所改造的柏林建築模型。但對某些人來說,正是來自遠逝年代的玩具,連同慢慢褪色的童年記憶,是對抗當下暴政的武裝。西西的《玩具》寫於耄耋之年,班雅明的《柏林童年》卻寫於不惑之齡。目睹納粹掌權,甚至因此而身繫囹圄,他的《柏林童年》可以說是「絕命之辭」。然而書中沒有他筆下那些玄奧的神祕哲思,而是以不疾不徐的節奏述說他在柏林和波茨坦渡過的童年。班雅明的《童年》就像西西的《玩具》一樣,力圖記述人一生中最純粹的經驗,它源自對於周遭每一個細節悸動的隱祕攝受和深深著迷。這些散文有班雅明對周遭世界的細膩感受,有二十世紀初柏林社會的縮影,也有孩童接觸「現代事物」(如電話)的經驗。班雅明的句子,有典型德語散文的綿密,細緻的描寫似要讓人摸索背後有甚麼玄思,其中最經典、最深刻,又最抒情的要數〈駝背小人〉,已成為膾炙人口的名篇。

解憂舊書店:安徒生《安徒生故事全集》

我最深刻的兒童讀物是安徒生寫的童話故事。他所謂的童話,故事都並不美滿,像是美人魚沒有與王子過著幸福快樂的生活,最後只變成泡沫;善良的賣火柴女孩,沒有豐衣足食,燒盡最後一根火柴後上了天堂;國王沒有睿智,只是虛榮愚蠢,相信謊言,最後成為大眾笑柄。安徒生以銳利的眼光,捕捉現實的風景,把絢爛而憂傷,甜美也殘酷的社會現實,寫成膾炙人口的童話故事,當中勻有深邃的寓意。即使童年不再,安徒生的童話仍舊十分耐讀,我們不是活在《國王的新衣》的世界裏嗎?

田園書屋:強‧艾吉Jon Agee《獅子補習班》

本書獲得紐約時報年度傑出圖畫書獎,作者用一顆未泯的童心,創作出幽默有趣﹑簡單易懂的情節和想成為獅子的奇思妙想,不要說小朋友,連成年人也覺得相當引人玩味。

小男孩來補習街上七堂課,渴望成為一隻「被認證」的獅子,對獅子教練來說,這是一門生意,而他貢獻的就是他與生俱來的獅子本領。看似弱小的男孩其實擁有強大的獅子心,在七堂課的訓練中,他表現最好的一堂課就是──「觀察和守護朋友」。當小男孩看到弱小動物遇到危險,這讓他鼓起勇氣去施展他的能力,是他助人的天性讓他順利完成訓練。

獅子老師教小男孩:「是朋友還是敵人?」小男孩立刻分辨出來,並且使出課堂所學的全部絕活,最後成功「完全就像一隻獅子」,獲得獅子老師和其他小動物的肯定。究竟「完全像一隻獅子」是怎麼樣呢?作者沒有明言,他用超現實的圖畫和故事,暗藏的意藴等著讀者去翻來看,找出自己心中的答案。

在過去的八個多月,香港許許多多年輕人也像這個小男孩一樣,看似弱小,但當看到不公義的事情在自己家園發生時,憑著對人類的良知與理性價值觀念,也就是普世價值,銳變成勇猛的獅子,與世上最邪惡的勢力作殊死的闘争,贏得全世界的尊重。

人人都可以完全像一隻獅子!

清明堂:Primo Levi《If This Is a Man》

Dear Children, 

One of the true pleasures of watching you guys grow up is seeing you both develop into serious readers. Mom and dad love to read. Always did, still do. And so we have tried hard to pass on that love to you guys. 

By now I think I’ve shared with you both many of the books I loved as a kid. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Ira Sleeps Over. The Snowy Day. 老夫子. 

And by sharing my love of reading with you guys, I, in turn, have discovered books that I did not know about when I was a kid but now wish I had. You might recognize the authors of some of those books. Margaret Wise Brown, Maurice Sendak, Virginia Lee Burton, and yes, even Richard Scarry. 

Now that you are both avid readers you might find yourselves with more questions than answers after you finish a book. That is completely normal, and in fact, quite healthy. Because one of the traits of a good and smart reader is to not simply accept everything one reads at face value, but to poke and prod and search for a deeper meaning behind all those words that you consume each day. This is especially true as you begin to read more chapter books. 

It took dad a while to figure all that out. Even now I still often find myself consuming instead of thinking about what I read in books. 

I’m asking myself as I write this letter whether there’s a book I’d recommend to you guys. A book that helped put me on the path to becoming a better, smarter reader. Or maybe a book that changed my life. 

What a terribly difficult question. 

I recently read a book by a scientist named Primo Levi called If This is a Man. I wouldn’t say it’s a kids book. In fact I wouldn’t recommend that you read it until you’re both older. But it’s an important book. 

In it Levi writes about a very difficult period of his life. A period during which he was a prisoner kept inside a prison called Auschwitz with thousands of other prisoners. There was no real rhyme or reason to why Levi was sent to prison except that he happened to be born a certain way much like you were both born with brown hair. 

In Levi’s case, it was his religious or cultural background. He was born into a family that was Jewish, just like you guys were born into a family that is half Chinese. And to the people in power at that time that was enough of a crime so that they arrested Levi and sent him to prison. 

I know this doesn’t sound like a terribly uplifting or happy book. And it isn’t. But life itself isn’t always a bed of roses either as the cheesy saying goes. And the sooner you learn that, I think, the better. 

Don’t get me wrong. There will be plenty of happy times. Times that you wish you could re-live again and again. But there will also be times when you’d rather crawl under the covers and never come out. 

After reading If This is a Man I have found myself thinking about life and and even reading books in a different light, including books that we have recently read or listened to together like Stuart Little and George’s Marvelous Medicine. To me that is what makes a good book. It makes you think about and see things differently.  

I imagine I’ll be around long enough so that you’ll hear me nagging you to read Levi’s book once you’re both a bit older. And I apologize in advance for that. But it’s really for your own good. Now eat your greens! =D

Love, 

Dad

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