【雙語】「人們無法剝奪他人的『人性』」:小說家 Affinity Konar,10 年煉成《雙生夢魘》

【雙語】「人們無法剝奪他人的『人性』」:小說家 Affinity Konar,10 年煉成《雙生夢魘》

採訪:Yi Ting Chen、劉馥瑩、陳怡仁、Vanessa Chen/換日線全球讀書會
編譯:關卓琦、林欣蘋/換日線編輯部

編輯導言:換日線邀請季刊訂戶專屬社團中的讀者們,參與編輯導讀的「換日線全球讀書會」,搭配提問贈書活動,一起線上共讀、討論當周選書。

《雙生夢魘》(Mischling)為換日線十月份選書(請參考:雙胞胎在納粹集中營,是「不幸中的大幸」,還是死亡的預兆?),感謝啟明出版協助聯繫該書作者艾芬蒂・柯納(Affinity Konar),與換日線的編輯、訂戶們,共同以信件往返的方式,完成此次越洋專訪。

關於《雙生夢魘》

作者 Affinity Konar 是波蘭裔猶太人,祖父曾參與第二次世界大戰,因為這樣的背景,她一直深受大屠殺敘事的吸引。 

16 歲的時候,她讀到一本書,談在奧斯威辛集中營裡,雙胞胎的遭遇。當時,執掌集中營生殺大權,而被稱為「死亡天使」的納粹醫生約瑟夫·門格勒,利用 3,000 名雙胞胎進行醫療實驗;其中,只有 160 人存活。

故事便圍繞在集中營裡的一對雙胞胎姊妹,與她們的遭遇。她們在非人道的對待中被拆散,當集中營被解放,被留下的女孩與集中營裡的朋友,開始在波蘭展開了一趟全新旅程,此時等待著他們的,將是一個什麼樣的世界?

本書原文書名 Mischling 為德文字,在納粹德國,被用以標誌那些同時擁有亞利安和猶太血統者。

問:您為什麼會選擇這個主題?身為波蘭藉猶太人,《雙生夢魘》的故事靈感是來自於您的家族嗎?

答:我的家庭是少數幸運兒之一,能夠在 30 年代逃離波蘭前往美國。事實上,我的祖父在第二次世界大戰中服役,所以我從小就非常了解這些事。而且我常常在想,如果我的家庭不是如此幸運的話,那我們又可能會發生甚麼呢?就是這種近似痴迷的狀態,把我逐步推向故事和書本,我又特別受大屠殺的詩人、藝術家、作家所吸引。

16 歲的時候,我在 Lucette Lagnado 的 “ Children of the Flames ” 一書中發現了奧斯威辛雙胞胎的故事。雖然,多年來我都沒想過要寫小說,但這些故事和聲音卻一直在迴蕩。我無法停止幻想著一對雙胞胎的對話,因為他們找到了生存的方式,並通過無與倫比的愛和關係來幫助彼此生存。

問:在寫作的過程中,您曾完全陷入故事中而感到悲傷不已嗎?您通常會有什麼方式去面對?

答:寫這本書花了 10 年時間,我得承認因為這計劃而產生出無可避免的悲傷,而導致延遲了很久──當你在寫一本關於大屠殺的書時,需要看很多研究資料,常讓人覺得渾身無力,特別是當中涉及一些令你難以忘懷的圖片。但在同時,這段歷史上也不缺乏觸動人心的善良人和願意自我犧牲的英雄,我從這些故事和獲得不少安慰和靈感,且讓人心生敬畏。就像是看到這些歷史人物最好一面時,他們可以有多高尚。

身為作家,我感興趣的是,甚麼原因令人從悲傷中走出來,又是甚麼原因讓他們忍耐到了極點?這本書的寫作過程反映了這一點。我身邊有一些美麗的故事,恰好,我的朋友和家人非常有趣,給我講了很多笑話,還有我的貓和狗出盡全力讓我提神。

問:您希望讀者能用什麼心情來讀您的小說,您想傳達甚麼訊息給您的讀者?

答:人們無法剝奪他人的「人性」,因為人類有能力「保有人性」或「恢復人性」,以及「一個人在極度創傷後,又該如何恢復生活」,這就是我在寫這本書時,腦海裡浮現的第一想法。所以,如果會有讀者在小說當中發現這些問題,我會十分高興。這本書可以視作為對「人性」這個主題的探索。

我希望這本書起到紀念的作用──透過兩個完全虛構的人物,引導一些讀者回到那段被藝術家和倖存者所塑造的、必須被看見的歷史。

問:您為什麼選擇以 12 歲孩子的視角,第一人稱訴說這個故事?

答:12 歲是個一直讓我著迷年紀。因為在這個歲數,你正處於成年的懸崖邊,但孩童般的思想仍然存在。其實,我很容易從孩子的角度來寫作──對我來說,要從成年人的角度去寫作更加困難,因為孩子有種創造的天賦,他們在講話中也有對聲音的更深的領會。

光是聽我侄女在講話就像個寫作練習一樣,有種好玩和驚奇感。我想,這種童稚的聲音或許能讓讀者以某種方式穿過物質,來突出這段歷史不一樣的黑暗。這個想法並不是為了掩蓋恐怖,而是提供一張無辜的面紗或稚氣的面具,讓我們從另一個角度來觀察歷史的創傷。

我沒有辦法不將貝兒和史塔莎,投射成現實中在奧斯威辛倖存下來的 Miriam 和 Eva。我相信, 還有更多甚至叫不出名字的雙胞胎,都在二戰期間的集中營遭受了難以言說的痛苦。

問:在現實中,Eva 選擇了寬恕這個歷史悲劇,您也選擇寬恕嗎?為什麼?

答:Mozes 雙胞胎(即 Miriam 和 Eva)的寬恕顯然是非同尋常的。他們和其他倖存者的態度,也是為什麼我覺得雙胞胎的故事會如此引人入勝的原因之一。我很欽佩德國為紀念大屠殺而採取了許多措施,而且在德國發聲和參觀是非常有價值的,因為這個議題立刻得到尊重。

另外,我必須要補充一點,波蘭最近對大屠殺的言論限制令我深感不安,他們的態度讓我覺得這件事情的迴響似乎永沒有終止的一天,受害者及其後代都被剝奪了──哪怕只是最低限度的承認,更遑論正義了。

問:這對雙胞胎姐妹在被迫分開後走上了不同的道路。為什麼你給了史塔莎友情,卻為貝兒安排了彼特這樣的角色?

答:對我來說,讓史塔莎和菲力克建立柏拉圖式的關係是很重要的,我許多受益匪淺的友誼,不論是童年時期還是之後,都是和男孩子一起建立的。他們的行為就像我的大哥,也是像菲力克和史塔莎一樣。

歸根結底, 我認為這本書大多是關於人與人之間的連結。在此採取柏拉圖式的角度也是合適的,僅僅是為了探索被迫與另一個孩子──沒有愛情或血緣關係──產生如此激烈的連結,會是什麼感覺。但無可否認的是,他們透過共通經驗的力量,成為了家人。

問:為什麼史塔莎對「病人」特別執著,作者是怎麼設想這個角色,和他前後的轉變的?

答:史塔莎太容易創造了!在我想像中,她是先以聲音出現──哀號和嚎叫。我想要的是一個叛逆和有點像男孩子(Tomboy)、愛得猛烈、打得激烈的女孩,一個極度敏感又容易受傷的女孩,她對她所愛的人是如此投入,所以她找到了一個讓自己振作起來的方法。她開始著迷於「病人」,因為她覺得討好門格勒能拯救他們──她想在門格勒的遊戲中打敗他,於是她偽裝自己,扮演騙子。

但是,史塔莎意識到這是一場徒勞無功的遊戲,貝兒也消失了──這幾乎毀滅了她,因此,她覺得為了生存下來,就必須要堅持復仇的想法。正是這種復仇的誓言支撐著史塔莎,一如貝兒被寬恕的理念支撐著那樣。

我懷念寫這兩個女孩的時候,她們在我的想像裡是很要好的夥伴,我覺得在這段寫作經歷後自己也得到提升。

艾芬蒂・柯納(Affinity Konar)。圖/goodsreads.com

Q&A in English

Q: Why do you choose this topic? As a Polish-Jewish descent, does the inspiration of Mischling come from your own family?

A: My family was one of a lucky few who were able to flee Poland in the thirties for America, and my grandfather actually served in World War II. So I grew up with a keen awareness of these events, and the question of what might have happened to us if we weren’t so fortunate was always on my mind. It was a  kind of obsession that pushed me towards story and books in general, but I was specifically drawn to the poets, artists, and writers of the Holocaust, and    when I was sixteen, I found the story of the twins of Auschwitz in “Children of the Flames” by Lucette Lagnado, and though I wouldn’t even think of writing a novel for many years, those stories and voices were a constant echo. I couldn’t stop imagining the conversations of a pair of twins, as they found a way to survive, and to aid the survival of each other, through an unparalleled love and bond.  

Q: During your writing, had there been the moment when you completely fell into the story and were saddened by it? If so, how did you deal with it? 

A: The writing of the novel took ten years, and I’ll admit that the inevitable sadness of the project caused much of the delay—you feel paralyzed while looking at the research required for a book about the Holocaust, especially when there are images involved that you won’t ever be able to forget. At the same time, the history also has no shortage of heroes and heroines and episodes of spontaneous kindness and sacrifice that just make you ache—it’s like being confronted with how beautiful people can be at their best, and I took a lot of comfort and inspiration from those stories and that feeling of   awe. As a writer, I’m interested in what makes people move past sadness, what makes them endure—funnily enough, the writing process for the book was a reflection of that. I had those beautiful stories alongside, and I had friends and family who happen to be very funny and tell me a lot of jokes, and then there’s also the dog and cat who worked overtime to lift my spirits.      

Q: In what manner would you expect your readers to read this novel? Any specific idea that you want to convey to the readers? 

A: The idea that people can’t strip your humanity from you, that there’s an ability to hold onto it or restore it, was foremost in my mind as I wrote, along with the question of how one resumes a life after extreme trauma. So it would make me happy to think that some readers might find these      questions within it, that the book could serve as an exploration of these theme. And I hoped that the book could serve as an act of remembrance, that it might—through two very fictional characters—lead some readers back to a history that must always remain visible, and the artists and survivors that have shaped our understanding of it. 

Q: Why do you write from the perspective of a twelve-year-old narrator?

A: It’s an age that has always fascinated me, because at twelve, you’re on the precipice of adulthood, but your child-like thoughts are still ever-present. It’s very easy for me to write from the perspective of a child in fact—I find it much harder to write in an adult voice because children have a natural aptitude for invention, and an appreciation of sound that surfaces in their speech. Just listening to my niece talk sometimes can feel like a writing exercise! There’s a sense of play and wonder, and I thought that this kind of voice might be able to carry reader through the material in a way that might highlight its darkness differently. The idea was not to obscure the horrors, but to provide a sort of innocent veil or childish mask that might allow us to observe the trauma from another angle.

I can’t help project Stasha and Pearl as Miriam and Eva-the twins survived Auschwitz in the real life. I believe there are more twins that we do not even know their names suffered the unspeakable pains in the concentration camps during the Second World War. 

Q: I am aware that Eve chose to forgive when she got out. Have you also forgiven the tragedy, and why?

A: The forgiveness of the Mozes twins is obviously extraordinary—their attitude, and those of other survivors, was part of why I found the story of the twins so compelling. I admire many of the measures Germany has taken to memorialize these events, and found it incredibly rewarding to speak and tour in that country, because the subject commands an immediate respect there. But I must add that I’m immensely troubled by Poland’s recent actions limiting speech about the Holocaust, and gestures like that make it feel as if the reverberations of these events will never quite end, that   the victims and their descendents are still being denied even the smallest acknowledgment, let alone justice.

Q: The twin sisters had gone on different paths after the separation. Why do you give Stasha friendship while planning the role like Peter for Pearl?

A: Giving Stasha a platonic relationship with Feliks was important to me; many of my most rewarding friendships, through childhood and beyond, have been with boys who have act like my big brothers, like Feliks does with Stasha. Ultimately, I think this book is often about human connection and it felt right to take up that platonic angle, just to explore what it might look like to bond so fiercely with another child in duress, one who is not a love interest or blood relative, but undeniably, through the power of a shared experience, becomes family. 

Q: How do you create the role of Stasha and her later change? Why is Stasha particularly obsessed with “the patient”?

A: Stasha was too easy to create! She came to me voice-first, as a lament and a howl. I wanted a girl who was a rebel and a tomboy, someone who loved fiercely and fought hard, a person who is extremely sensitive and easy to wound, but so dedicated to the people that she loves that she finds a way to patch herself up and go on. She becomes obsessed with “the patient” because she thinks that currying the favor of Mengele will save them—she wants to beat him at his own game, to disguise herself, and function as a trickster. When she realizes that this is a futile game and Pearl          disappears—it very nearly destroys her and she finds in necessary to cling to a notion of vengeance in order to survive. It’s that vow of revenge that sustains her—just as Pearl is sustained by the concept of forgiveness. I miss writing about both of the girls a lot—I felt that I was improved personally by the experience, and they were good company in my imagination. 

執行編輯:張詠晴
核稿編輯:林欣蘋

Photo Credit:換日線編輯部 後製

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