モーム アシェンデン(1)

2017年3月27日 月曜日 晴れ

モーム アシェンデン 英国情報部員のファイル 中島賢二・岡田久雄訳 岩波文庫 赤254-13 2008年

オーディオブック Ashenden, Written by: W. Somerset Maugham, Narrated by: Christopher Oxford, Length: 9 hrs and 17 mins, Unabridged Audiobook, Release Date:12-06-12, Publisher: Audible Studios

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彼は自分の立場が、苦痛を取り除いてやれない患者を前にした医者のように、感情を抜きにしたものであることを感じていた。彼は、Rが何故自分にこんな特殊な仕事を与えたかがやっとわかった。この仕事には、冷静な頭と情に溺れないだけの自制心が必要だったのだ。(モーム、8 ジューリア・ラッツァーリ、同書、p203)

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補註 「アシェンデン」は、オーディオブックで去年の8月8日付けで買っていて、すでに何回も聴き通しているのであるが、どことなくはっきり理解して聴き取れていなかったのである。このところのモーム勉強でわかったことは、この「アシェンデン」という本は、長編小説ではなくて、短編集であるという知識である。それなら、全体の筋立てが理解できなかったのも肯ける。オーディオブックを聴くだけだと、端書きも解説も付かないから、長篇なのか短編の集まりなのか、わからずに聴いていたというわけだ。英語力という面からも、恥ずかしいほど間抜けな話である。
 アシェンデンの名前ではあるが、語り口は3人称である。対照的に、Cakes and Ale に出てくるアシェンデン氏は自身が語り手である。しかし、この「アシェンデン」という本の中では、複雑な自由間接話法的な表現は見られず、話法表現は常にシンプルでわかりやすい。アシェンデンを検索して、一括変換で「私」に置換してしまえば、Cakes and Ale の語り口に替えることができる。逆も可能である。(ただし、それぞれの格変化 I my me mine などを、ちゃんと変換するには、若干の修正を要するが、これは些細な問題である。)
 いずれにしても、作者モームの一人の分身であり、お医者さんの経歴と資格を持つ劇作家・小説家、そして、もちろんこのヨーロッパ大戦中は本物のスパイ・MI6でもある。
 この岩波文庫の訳書は2008年刊。

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補註 ウィキペディアによると・・・https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashenden:_Or_the_British_Agent

Ashenden: Or the British Agent is a 1928 collection of loosely linked stories by W. Somerset Maugham. It is partly based on the author’s experience as a member of British Intelligence in Europe during the First World War.

During WWI a playwright named Ashenden is enlisted as an agent through threats and promises by Colonel R., a British Intelligence officer. He is sent to Switzerland where he becomes involved in a number of counter-intelligence operations; which he accomplishes by means of persuasion, bribery, or blackmail. He himself does not carry or use a weapon.

In one he accompanies a man called the Hairless Mexican to Italy, where a Greek agent of the Germans is to be bribed into turning into a double agent. However since the Greek will not cooperate he is murdered by the Hairless Mexican, who also keeps the bribe money intended for the Greek as his fee.

In another he must induce an Italian dancer to betray her Indian lover, a German agent, by convincing him to cross the border from neutral Switzerland to see her in allied France, so that the Allies can arrest him; the ironic denouement is that after the man is captured by the British, then arrested, tried, and executed all on the same day, the dancer goes to Ashenden and begs to have back the valuable ring and watch she had given to the man whom she has just betrayed.

After a number of similar operations, Ashenden is sent to Imperial Russia during the 1917 revolution, as an “agent of influence”, to do what he can to keep Russia in the war against Germany. This is the setting for the last six chapters of the book. One of these chapters was the subject of a deliberate homage by Ian Fleming, namely the short story “Quantum of Solace”, which is very similar in structure and in tone to chapter 12 of “Ashenden” .

Chapters:
R.
A Domiciliary Visit
Miss King
The Hairless Mexican
The Dark Woman
The Greek
A Trip to Paris
Giulia Lazzari
Gustav
The Traitor
Behind the Scenes
His Excellency
The Flip of a Coin
A Chance Acquaintance
Love and Russian Literature
Mr. Harrington’s Washing

The chapters are collected in later collections under different titles, as below. It is unknown whether they were rewritten slightly from original publication.

“A Domiciliary Visit” & “Miss King” as Miss King
“The Hairless Mexican”, “The Dark Woman”, “The Greek” as The Hairless Mexican
“A Trip to Paris, “Giulia Lazzari” as Giulia Lazzari
“Gustav”, “The Traitor” as The Traitor
“Behind the Scenes”, “His Excellency”, as His Excellency
“A Chance Acquaintance”, “Love and Russian Literature”, “Mr. Harrington’s Washing” as Mr. Harrington’s Washing

Origins
It is said[by whom?] that Somerset Maugham modelled the character of Ashenden after himself. He is supposed to have modelled Chandra Lal after Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, an Indian Nationalist in Germany during the war. Maugham, who was in the British Secret Service in Europe during the war, based a number of his stories on his own experiences. Among other enterprises, Britain’s European intelligence network attempted to eliminate a number of Indian nationalists in Europe, notably members of the Berlin Committee. Donald Gullick, a British agent, was dispatched to assassinate Chattopadhaya while the latter was on his way to Geneva to meet another Indian nationalist, Mahendra Pratap and forward the Kaiser’s invitation to Berlin. The short story of Giulia Lazzari is a blend of Gullick’s attempts to assassinate Chattopadhyaya and Mata Hari’s story. Winston Churchill reportedly advised Maugham to burn 14 other stories.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashenden:_Or_the_British_Agent

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