After reading Bipolar Disorder – the Ultimate Guide, a psychiatric book published in the UK, I flipped through some relaxing books. One of them, prose collection Yet to be Found by Yi Shu. One of the short pieces recalled of her junior high school years in British Hong Kong when an English teacher made the reading of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens compulsory. She said she couldn’t understand the story when she was young. But she often read it repeatedly as she grew up.

Charles Dickens became my favourite writer after I read Oliver Twist during my university days. I always think that his writing style influenced several generations of English-language writers. When I read newspapers and magazines, I always find articles written by outstanding British and Australian writers to have flair originated from Dickens’s writing style.

I checked online and found out that BBC ranked Great Expectations as the fourth greatest British novel. And Independent had its own list of top 10 Dickens novels and ranked it as number one. My favourite Oliver Twist, however, did not make it to the top-100 list of BBC.

It was never ending when I learnt of such matter. No matter how many English books I have queued up on my to-read list, I still rushed to a bookstore after work to get a copy of Great Expectations so that I can start reading it this weekend. I stood and read the introduction and the first chapter. “My world,” I thought to myself, “I am, again, back to the beautifully written English.”

I will start translating another new book pretty soon. And Dickens novels have once again become the lighthouse illuminating this part of the route of my Chinese into English translation career.

讀完英國出版的《躁鬱症之終極指引》之後讀了一些比較輕鬆的書,其中一本就是亦舒散文《如果有,還未找到》。其中一篇提到她在英治香港念初中的時候,英文老師規定要讀狄更斯的《孤星血淚》(Great Expectations),小時候讀不懂,後來成年就常常重讀。

大學時代我讀過《孤雛淚》(Oliver Twist)就很喜歡狄更斯,一直覺得他的文筆影響了好幾代英文寫作人。讀英國、澳洲書報那些優秀作者的文章,總是覺得有狄更斯文采的影子。我隨即翻查資料,原來英國廣播公司將《孤星血淚》列為英國百大優秀小說的第四位,我喜愛的《孤雛淚》未入百大。英國《獨立報》更將《孤星血淚》列為狄更斯小說的第一位。