撕紙成畫的孩子王——黃春明專訪

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1993 / 7月

文‧滕淑芬採訪整理 圖‧張詠捷


近年少有小說發表的小說家黃春明,全力投入兒童讀物的創作,對他而言,這並不是突然的轉變。擅長說故事的他,早年就曾經在電視台製作過「小瓜呆」劇場等兒童節目。黃春明覺得寫小說和兒童文學創作都是為了一個理想,只不過對象有所改變,以前為大人而寫,現在為小讀者而寫。

在他看來「現在的大人已經沒有救了」,而他自己的孩子已經長大,「只好來愛別人的小小孩」。不過對於他的原配——小說,他表示是不會放棄的。


問:一般讀者對您的印象來自您以鄉土為背景的小說,以前您是為大人而寫,現在為小讀者而寫,從事小說創作和兒童文學創作,在心境上有無差異?

為理想而寫

答:沒有什麼不同。藝術創作有兩條路,一種是為藝術而藝術,另一種是為人生而藝術。

從中國文學傳統看來,我們走的是後者的路線,以關心社會為出發點。《詩經》開始就寫老百姓生活,寫實可以說是中國藝術文學的主流。

中國作家多希望作品能成為促使社會進步的正面力量。三國時曹丕就說過:「文章乃經國之大業」,到民初的梁啟超寫了一篇「小說救國論」的文章,他認為當時的外國之所以比中國強,是因為外國的小說好,小說具有潛移默化的力量。

台灣和我同一時期的作家,對小說有種浪漫情懷,一直懷抱著「如果能寫點東西,對社會是有用」的心態。

近十年來,台灣的經濟起飛,加上電視普及,價值觀改變,已經沒有什麼人看小說了。現在是「非文學類」——如何炒股票、告訴你HOW的書籍暢銷;WHY追根究柢、思考性質的書少了。

市場反應人的需要,大人已經不需要文學了,他們要的是「輕薄短小」的文章,短短一頁就談遍宇宙、人生、生命。在目前的速成文化裡,好像能接近宇宙人生的奧秘,其實是自欺。

對文學抱著很大希望,藉文學服務社會的觀念已經有所改變了。成型的大人,他們的精神、氣質已經墮落,所以大人已經沒有救了。我又何必把以前寫作、畫畫的經驗花在沒有救的大人身上,所以就轉移到小孩子身上。

我說救小孩,口氣滿大,但力量非常薄弱。可是不能因為薄弱就不去做,否則力量就無法匯集。

不過,我也不是完全放棄大人,小說還是要寫。小說就像我最先結婚的太太,應該永遠在一起。

不需要那麼多知識

問:這次您的五本童話故事,其中也有以農村為背景的鄉土情節描述,在某種程度也反映您的懷舊心理;不過由於是大人的生活經驗,譬如書中講到稻草人,現在都市小孩子已經少有機會看到稻草人,和小孩的經驗範圍有差距,會不會反而加深他們的挫折感呢?

答:這個問題很好。雖然離父母不遠的事物,還是有其存在價值,但是有時候大人覺得很好的東西,譬如鄉愁,就不一定是小孩的鄉愁。我記得自己小孩還小的時候,帶他回羅東老家,他就吵著:「爸爸,我們回家。」我說:「羅東就是家。」他卻說:「羅東不是我的家,台北才是。」鄉愁的價值不一定對,不能硬塞給小孩。

童話故事能不能讓小孩接受,對他們有無影響,需要很多評估。

譬如咬小孩子手指頭的虎姑婆故事,似乎不需要再詳細描述殘暴情節,因為已經達到嚇小孩的功能。我並不是反對童話中的暴力。我們還在培養小孩對是非善惡的分辨,並不是要他們在「無菌的育嬰室」中成長,他一定會到外面的世界,會和細菌接觸,應該培養他們免疫、拒絕的能力。

其次,我們看到童話故事快樂的結局比較多,但是像安徒生童話「賣火柴的小女孩」,非常悲慘,但卻是世界一流。

我這次寫一個駝背的小孩子,後來死了,他的好朋友想到小駝背就很難過,因為小駝背活著的時候是那麼善良。我用戲劇方式表現生命價值。

有些大人會說,死亡不應該讓小孩知道。媽媽從市場買回來的魚、雞也是死的,小孩子問,雞的頭怎麼被砍下來,也很殘忍啊!不是不能對小孩談死亡,而是談到時,該給予同情,惻隱之心人皆有之,但也要啟發。

我想取材拿捏非常重要,但如果一定要有個機械、規律的標準,又說不上來。

故事要有想像力

問:現在父母都非常捨得為子購買兒童讀物,坊間兒童讀物琳琅滿目,在您決定為兒童創作時,有沒有想過什麼樣的讀物才適合小孩子?

答:想像力對小孩子非常重要,因為他們沒有廣泛的生活經驗。尤其對學齡前兒童來說,畫比文字更重要。兒童書中的圖畫,不是單純的美術或配圖,圖畫本身就是小孩子的語言。讓孩子由圖畫進入故事,在情節中給予孩子想像和參與空間。

舉個例子來說,記得我六、七歲,羅東發生大地震。阿媽跟我說,地震就是地牛在抖動它的肩膀。那時候還沒怪手、推土機,牛在地底下對我來說還合理,只是牛有多大?晚上有沒有睡覺?小腦袋就一直想。

後來讀中學的堂兄回來,我問他:「哥哥,你們宜蘭有沒有地震?」他說有。我就說:「哇!那頭牛好大。」因為我想,羅東到宜蘭這麼大,一塊地都在動,這頭牛一定很大。

堂兄卻跟我解釋地震的發生,是因為地層下陷、板塊撞擊、火山爆發等。在我聽來都太抽象,什麼叫地層?地層怎麼下陷?我很沮喪去問阿媽,怎麼騙我?阿媽反過來問我:「那你說為什麼會有地震?」我又說不上來。

阿媽於是說:「地震就是地牛在動,其他的,以後讀書再去瞭解哥哥說的那種地震。」我又很高興了。

地牛的說法並沒有影響到日後我學習地震形成的科學原因。

現在的父母急於把精確的科學知識塞給小孩,其實,「想像的知識」對孩子來說,也十分重要。好的童話應該在有趣味性的前提下,給孩子豐富的想像空間。

寫出自己的特色

問:您曾說過「童話故事不是外國專利」,中國人的童話除了是自己創作的,還要有什麼樣不同的內涵?

答:除了日常生活,文化遺產更是最好的素材。譬如說陶淵明的《桃花源記》,我把它改成一個小孩進入桃花源,用小孩眼光詮釋。在《小李子不是大騙子》的故事中,小李子從桃花源回來告訴大家有這麼一個地方,可是大家都找不到,縣太爺姑念他是小孩子,沒有處罰他,可是別人都說他是騙子。小李子說,你們不要這樣叫我,我沒有騙人,那個地方是什麼樣子,我都知道,現在我要把桃樹種起來,創造一個這樣的地方。我這樣改,就是創造另一個「南山」,相信陶淵明也會同意。

或者像「愚公移山」的故事,也可以把它改成具有現代感。

小孩的東西一定是小兒科。但是我對「小兒科」的解釋,是專業的意思。現在有不少人是大人東西寫不好,就來寫小孩,不應該這樣。

以前大家看翻譯小說,就說是崇洋媚外,於是喊出寫實文學、民族文學、鄉土文學的口號,其實小孩子更需要有民族性的童話。現在的童話都是外來的,講知識的,其實我們最欠缺的是有創造力、想像力的讀物,只是沒有人喊出口號。這條路是要走下去,我希望自己能作個榜樣。

問:您做過廣告企劃、小學老師,還賣過便當,有人說因為您有不同歷練,所以作品更貼近人性,您覺得呢?

答:一個人真正可以從經驗中學到思想,大概是在廿歲之後。在人有限的生命中,嘗試不同生活領域,也許可以比別人多一點經驗。但是文學作品刻劃一個時代、家族或個人,寫得好,能把個體生命活動呈現出來,其實是因為人有很多共通的地方,經驗可以類化。直接經驗或間接經驗,對創作人來說,不是很重要。

建立經典權威

問:可不可以給現代父母一個實際建議,告訴他們如何選擇兒童讀物?

答:很難用一個標準去衡量。現在的兒童讀物實在多得不得了,而且包裝得讓人眼花撩亂。大人可以先用直覺判斷,小孩會不會喜歡?內容有沒有想像力?用大人的眼光來看,如果覺得不錯,應該不差。有些書印得很漂亮、畫得很漂亮,但是畫太過呆板,沒有留想像空間,在小孩腦中就產生不了作用。父母也應該嘗試多閱讀兒童讀物。

一般人都應該自己建立經典權威,一些大部頭、呈現時代背景的作品,譬如馬克吐溫、馬奎斯的作品,這些書已經超越時間、空間,兩三百年來還沒有被遺忘、還被翻譯,這種作品看多了自然在心裡建立起權威,標準就有了。

創作者、讀者都可以如此要求自己,有沒有接近的權威標準,接觸多了,對一個事件就有了自己的看法。

〔圖片說明〕

P.92

一盞孤燈,加上滿櫥的書,黃春明就在這兒孕育出他的童話創作。

P.95

孩子還小的時候,黃春明遠在美國。他經常在家書中加插圖,和孩子聊聊日常瑣事。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

The Collage-Making King of Children

interview by Teng Sue-feng /tr. by Jonathan Barnard

In recent years novelist Huang Chun-ming hasn't been writing many novels and instead has thrown his energy into creating children's books. As far as he is concerned, this isn't a sudden turn of events. A good storyteller, Huang in days past produced such children's programs on television as "Little Dumb Dumb." He believes that writing novels and creating children's literature are both pursuits of an ideal. It's just that the audience is different. He used to be writing for adults. Now he's writing for children.

In his view, "Modern adults are already beyond saving." Since his own children have already grown up, he says he's had no choice but "to go love other people's children." But he makes it clear that he won't cast aside novels, which he describes as like a wife to him.


Q: Most readers think of you as a writer of novels with local color and a rural backdrop. Now that you're writing for youngsters, have you found that there is a fundamental shift in switching from writing novels to writing children's books?

Writing for the ideal

Q: It's not much different. In artistic creation there are two routes: one is art for art's sake, and the other is art for humanity's sake.

In the Chinese literary tradition, we've taken the latter route, taking concern about society as a starting point. As far back as The Book of Poetry Chinese literature has described the life of common people. Realism can be described as the main current in Chinese literary tradition.

Chinese writers always hope that their work will have a direct impact on social progress. During the period of the Three Kingdoms, Tsao Pi said "Literature is what shapes the nation." And it was still that way at the beginning of the Republic of China, when Liang Chi-chao wrote an essay, "The Theory of Using Novels to Save the Country" in which he argued that foreign countries were stronger than China because their fiction was better, that literature invisibly leaves its imprint on people's thinking.

The writers of my era in Taiwan have a kind of romantic sentiment about the novel, always holding onto an attitude that "if they can write something, it will be of use to society."

In the past decade, Taiwan's economy has taken off. With the universality of television and changes in values, virtually no one reads novels anymore. Now books are all non-fiction, like those describing how to make a fortune playing the stock market. The best sellers are all telling you "how," but there are many fewer books of a contemplative nature telling you "why," getting to the roots of things.

The market reflects people's needs. Adults no longer need literature. What they want are short easily digestible essays, touching on the universe and life in just one page. In our current high-speed culture, it seems that you can get close to the mysteries of the universe and life, but in reality you're just cheating yourself.

The attitude of carrying great expectations about literature, of using literature to provide service to society is already changing greatly. Adults are mired in the evil ways--they're already beyond being saved. Why should I take my experience in writing and painting and waste it on adults who can't be saved anyway? And so I have turned my focus to children.

Saying I want to save children may sound grand, but I have little actual power at my command. But just because I have little power, that doesn't mean that I shouldn't try, or otherwise my power will have no way to combine with others.'

But I haven't completely given up on adults. I still want to write novels. To me writing novels is like a first wife--with me forever.

One needn't have so much knowledge

Q: Among the children's stories in your recent five volumes, in some of them you take a rural setting and infuse them with descriptions of local color, which to a certain degree reflects your nostalgic feelings, but they still come from the experience of a contemporary adult. For example, the books mention scarecrows, but very few city kids will have ever had an opportunity to see a scarecrow. It is removed from the realm of experience of children. Will this put them off?

A: This is a good question. While things like these aren't in the far distant past for the parents and may be of some value to keep in the memory, there may be some things that adults like and remember fondly that hold no interest for children. I remember when my child was still small, I took him to my hometown of Lotung. He complained, "Daddy, I want to go home." I said Lotung is home, and he said, "Lotung isn't my home, Taipei is." one's nostalgic values aren't necessarily correct; they can't be forced upon children.

Whether or not children's stories can be accepted by children and influence them requires a lot of assessment.

For example, the story of the tiger dressed in the guise of an old lady who bites a child's finger doesn't require a description of violence because the children have already been frightened. I'm not against violence in children's tales. We are cultivating children's ability to distinguish between good and evil. They shouldn't grow up in a "germ free incubator." They will certainly come in contact with these germs when they go out into the world. We should develop their resistance to disease.

Secondly, we can see that most children's stories have happy endings. But look at Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl." Though tragic, it is among the world's best stories.

This time I wrote a story about a hunchback child. After he died, his friends would become very sad whenever they thought of him because he had been so virtuous. I have used a theatrical method to show the value of life.

Some adults, however, think that we shouldn't make children face death. The fish and chicken that mother brings home from the market are also dead, and children ask, isn't it terrible that chickens' heads are chopped off. It's not that you can't speak of death to children, but it's that when you're speaking of it, you've got to be sympathetic and have feelings for others. But you've got to be instructive in the way you approach it.

I think that the selection of materials is very important, but I can't give you a mechanistic, legalistic standard.

Stories have got to have imagination

Q: Today's parents will buy books for their kids regardless of cost, and there is a great variety of children's books on the market. When you're creating for children, do you think about what kind of books are appropriate for them?

A: Imagination is extremely important for children because they don't have ample life experience. Especially for pre-school children, the pictures are more important than the words. The art work in children's books isn't merely drawings that accompany the text. Rather pictures are the language of children. They let kids enter into the story, giving them space for imagination and participation.

Let me give you an example. I remember when I was six or seven and there was a big earthquake in Lotung. My grandmother told me that earthquakes happened when the earth bull was shaking his shoulders. At that time, there weren't cranes and bull dozers around yet, and it seemed perfectly reasonable that there was a bull in the earth. It was just a question of how big. Did it sleep at night or not? I kept turning these questions over in my brain.

When my older cousin, who had been away at high school, came home, I asked him, "Was there an earthquake in Ilan?" He said there was, and so I said, "Wow, that bull is really big!" because I was thinking it's a long way from Lotung to Ilan--if there was an earthquake along that whole stretch, it must be one big bull. My cousin explained to me how earthquakes happen, that they're caused by the falling down of the geological strata, by the colliding of plates and the exploding of volcanoes. But this was all so abstract. What were the geological strata? How did they fall? Depressed, I asked my grandmother why she lied to me. She asked back, "Then why are there earthquakes?" and I had no response.

Then Granny said, "Earthquakes happen when the earth bull is moving. As for the rest of that stuff that your cousin said, you'll understand that later when you go to school." And I was happy once again.

And the explanation of the earth bull didn't have any effect on how I later studied the scientific reasons for earthquakes.

Today parents are eagerly trying to force precise scientific knowledge upon their children. The fact of the matter is that "the knowledge of imagination" is also extremely important for children. A good children's story should give children ample space for imagining as well as be interesting.

Writing with one's own special character

Q: You once said that "children's tales aren't the monopoly of foreigners." Besides being created by ourselves, is the content of Chinese children's stories any different?

A: Besides things from daily life, our cultural inheritance is the best material for stories. For example, I took Tao Yuan-ming's The Story of the Peach Flower Spring and rewrote it through the eyes of a child. In the story, "Little Li Isn't a Big Liar, " Little Li comes back from the Peach Flower Garden to tell people that there is such a place. But no one can find it. Because he is a child, the county magistrate doesn't punish him, but other people all say that he is a liar. Little Li says, "Don't call me that. I didn't lie. I know what it looks like. Now I'm going to plant peach trees to create a place like it." Changing it in this way, I have created another Utopia, and I believe that Tao Yuan-ming would approve.

Or take the story "The Foolish Old Man Moves the Mountain." A modern version could be written of it.

It may be that these stories are just child's play, but I think of child's play as a serious matter. Now there are too many people who start writing stories for children only after they fail writing books for adults. It shouldn't be like this.

Previously, when everybody was reading translated novels people said that this represented a kind of xenophilia, and so they would call for realism in literature, for a native literature, for a literature of the land. But the truth is that children need these ethnic tales even more. Now most of the children's stories are from abroad and aim to impart knowledge, but what we really lack are creative, imaginative books. But no one is making a call for this. I want to go down this road. I want to be a model for others.

Q: You have worked as a planner in an ad agency and as an elementary school teacher. And you have even sold boxed lunches. Some people say that because you have this variety of experiences, your work is closer to the real nature of people. What do you think about this?

A: The experiences that you can really form ideas from probably come mostly after you're 20. Within the limits of one life, sampling different walks of life may indeed give you more experience than other people. But literature engraves an image of an age, a group or a person. If it is written well, it can create a projection of an individual's life. This is because people have many things in common. Experience can be classified. To the creator, it doesn't make much difference if it's direct experience or indirect experience.

Establishing the authority of the classics

Q: Could you give today's parents some practical suggestions about buying children's books?

A: It's hard to make just one standard. There are in fact a great number of current children's books, and they are dazzlingly packaged. Adults can first make some direct judgments about a book. Will children like the book? Is the content imaginative? If you as an adult think it's good, it probably shouldn't be too bad. Some books, while printed well and illustrated attractively, are dull, leaving no room for the imagination and providing no food for thought for the minds of young readers. And parents should try to read more children's books.

Most people ought to establish what are the classics for themselves. There are a great many books that appear in a historical setting, such as books by Mark Twain or Gabriel Garcia Marquez that already transcend time and space. They've been around for 200 or 300 years but they haven't been forgotten and are still being translated. If you read more of these books, you'll establish your own authority and standards.

The creators and the readers can thus both put demands on themselves to see whether or not there is a standard close to being authoritative. The more contact you have with something, the more you will have your own way of looking at it.

[Picture Caption]

p.92

A solitary lamp and a closet full of books; It is here where Huang Chun-ming creates his children's books.

p.95

When his children were still small, Huang was off in America. He would illustrate the letters sent home to his children, which told of his everyday experiences in a distant land.

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