Literature in Translation: “The Protagonist of a Tragedy” by Wang Ding-Jun

I’m posting translations of small passages, essays, or stories in my free time to add to my portfolio. The following is a short essay from 人生試金石, a collection of short essays by Chinese/Taiwanese author 王鼎鈞. Any comments or suggestions are appreciated! (Translation: Chinese>English.)

悲劇主角 The Protagonist of a Tragedy

人 大多希望自己成功,卻也有人認為「無妨」失敗。成功難,失敗易。成功如逆水行舟,費盡力氣;失敗如順風而下,聽天由命。成功故然可以受人讚美,失敗卻也能 夠博得同情,同情的滋味也不錯。Most people wish for success, but there are also people who feel that “there’s no harm” in failure. Success is difficult to attain; failure is easy to achieve. Success is as difficult and takes as much effort as sailing against the current; failure is like following the way the wind goes, resigning oneself to fate. While success can win one praise, failure can also win one sympathy, and sympathy isn’t such a bad feeling either.

抱這種想法的人都非常善良,他們有豐富的感情,經常站在受命運折磨的人的一邊,以為別人也會像他一樣。其實,雪中送碳的人少,錦上天花的人多,失敗者的冬 天是很寒冷的。Those who think this way tend to be kind. They are filled with emotions and sentiments, and tend to be on the side of those who are tormented by luck, thinking that everyone else would act the same way as well. Though in fact, there are few who would deliver coal in the snow, offer help when it’s most needed, but many who would be glad to add flowers to a brocade, add icing on the cake. A failure’s winter would be very frigid one.

志願的失敗者喜歡欣賞悲劇,幻想自己是悲劇的主角。他忽略了一點: 所有悲劇的主角都是經過多次的挫折,不斷的奮鬥,最後無可奈何才失敗的。人們如果要同情`,也只肯同情那種奮鬥過來的失敗者,那種不甘心不屈服的失敗者。 所以享受失敗後的同情,只能算是人生的第二,不可列為第一。A voluntary failure enjoys tragedies, imagining himself as the protagonist. Though he overlooks one point: every protagonist of a tragedy goes through many difficulties and fights against all obstacles, failing only when there are no alternatives. If people decide to sympathize, they are only willing to sympathize with those who failed after a struggle, those who failed unwillingly. Thus, the desire to experience sympathy after failure should only be considered one’s second aspiration in life, not the first.