英语阅读:女王和乌鸦

来源:考试大发布时间:2013-04-16

  “喜鹊报喜,乌鸦报忧。”乌鸦在中国传统文化中的形象多为消极的。事实上乌鸦聪明,专情,孝顺,集诸多美好品质于一身。伊索寓言中聪明的乌鸦借助石子喝水,白居易曾作诗《慈乌夜啼》赞美乌鸦反哺。不仅如此,乌鸦更是英国王室钟爱的小生灵。

  By Boria Sax

  熙凡 注

  Legends and fairy tales are set in a world where relations between animals and human beings are egalitarian and reciprocal[1]. This places human dominance in question, and many societies try constantly to distance themselves from that message. Already, in ancient Greece and Rome, the fables attributed to the half-legendary Aesop were set in an indefinite period of the past "when animals talked like human beings.”[2]

  In Early Modern Europe, the animal guides, helpers, and guardian spirits that fill legends and fairy tales were demonized as familiars of witches.[3] Particularly in English witch trials, talking to animals or otherwise showing intimacy with them could be accepted as evidence of sorcery[4]. In the early nineteenth centuries, the Brothers Grimm started a revival of these tales, but they still felt a need to remove them as far as possible from the context of daily life.[5] When they published their first volume of fairy tales in 1812, they viewed the stories as remnants of old mythologies.[6] In the second volume—and, increasingly, in subsequent editions—they set the stories instead in the enchanted[7] world of childhood.

  But legends can arise in the contemporary era, as much as they could in ancient times, and among intellectuals as well as unlettered peasants.[8] One case in point is the legend that Britain will fall if the ravens leave the Tower of London. Like many folktales, the origins of this prophesy[9] are often placed in the indefinite past, the "Once upon a time..." of fairy tales. But, ravens were only brought to the Tower of London in 1883, when they were used as props for tales of Gothic horror told to tourists by Beefeaters (ceremonial guards at the Tower).[10]

  The legend dates from July 1944, when ravens were being used as unofficial spotters[11] for Nazi bombs and planes, and they really were important to Londoners' survival. As I anticipated, my discovery of the ravens' recent origin have had little impact on the countless news stories, books, and guides that simply repeat the familiar tale (something that does not bother me in the least).[12] Legend and history move on different planes.

  The legend now lends the Tower of London itself a fairy-tale sort of ambiance[13]. At least six ravens, most of which are injured birds that might not be able to survive in the wild, are kept on the grounds of the Tower of London at all times. Their wings are trimmed[14], so they cannot fly very far, but, otherwise, they move freely on the grounds. Over many decades, routines have evolved that enable the ravens to interact with the Beefeaters who care for them, with tourists, and with one another in ways that are complex and reciprocal.[15] Relations between animals and human beings are the subject of an emerging academic area known as "anthrozoology," and the grounds of the Tower of London seem to invite such research.[16] It is a place where relationships between people and certain animals developed organically over more than a century, without the artificiality of a laboratory setting.[17]

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