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Conjurer of character


彼女のTEDトークといえばBeyonceの曲に使われた“We Should All Be Feminists”の方が有名ですが、こちらの方も好きな話です。AdichieもTIMEの100名に選ばれていました。

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
By Radhika Jones
April 16, 2015
Conjurer of character

With her viral TEDxEuston talk, “We Should All Be Feminists,” she found her voice as cultural critic. (You can hear it rising midway through Beyoncé’s woman-power anthem “Flawless.”) She sets her love stories amid civil war (Half of a Yellow Sun) and against a backdrop of racism and migration (Americanah). But her greatest power is as a creator of characters who struggle profoundly to understand their place in the world.

あのTEDトークのおかげでcultural criticになってしまったけど、But her greatest power is as a creator of charactersと結んでいました。だからこそConjurer of characterというサブタイルをつけたようです。Conjurerは「魔術師」という意味なんですね。もちろんここではcreator of charactersをかっこよく言い換えたものですが。。。

conjuror (also conjurer)
a person who performs conjuring tricks
It’s a mystery to me how the conjuror made that rabbit appear.

conjurer , conjuror [countable]
someone who entertains people by performing clever tricks in which things seem to appear, disappear, or change by magic [= magician]

ちょうど先々週の雑誌New YorkerでAdichieの短編を掲載していました。短編を読むのは状況がよくつかめなかったりして英語学習者には普通の小説よりも難しくなることが多いですが、この話はそんなことはなく、彼女のConjurer of characterぶりを味わうことができると思います。登場人物に共感して物語を味合うことの楽しみを感じていただけるはずです。

Fiction APRIL 13, 2015 ISSUE

Words checked = [4191]
Words in Oxford 3000™ = [90%]

短編は定年退職をして老後を暮らす80代の両親に会いに行くところから始まります。夫婦は年を重ねることで似てくるというのをThey seemed to look more and more alike, as though all the years together had made their features blend and bleed into one anotherと表しています。

Twice a month, like a dutiful son, I visited my parents in Enugu, in their small overfurnished flat that grew dark in the afternoon. Retirement had changed them, shrunk them. They were in their late eighties, both small and mahogany-skinned, with a tendency to stoop. They seemed to look more and more alike, as though all the years together had made their features blend and bleed into one another


They had, too, a new, baffling patience for incredible stories. Once, my mother told me that a sick neighbor in Abba, our ancestral home town, had vomited a grasshopper—a living, writhing insect, which, she said, was proof that wicked relatives had poisoned him. “Somebody texted us a picture of the grasshopper,” my father said. They always supported each other’s stories. When my father told me that Chief Okeke’s young house help had mysteriously died, and the story around town was that the chief had killed the teen-ager and used her liver for moneymaking rituals, my mother added, “They say he used the heart, too.”

Fifteen years earlier, my parents would have scoffed at these stories. My mother, a professor of political science, would have said “Nonsense” in her crisp manner, and my father, a professor of education, would merely have snorted, the stories not worth the effort of speech. It puzzled me that they had shed those old selves, and become the kind of Nigerians who told anecdotes about diabetes cured by drinking holy water.

別の機会には武装窃盗団の増加が話題になったのですが、昔この家のhouseboy(下男)だったRaphaelがリーダーだったという話がでます。両親にとっては大勢いた中の一人の印象なため、“You probably won’t remember him.”と話しかけますが、主人公である娘にとってはBut I remembered. Of course I remembered Raphael.という反応でした。Raphaelとのビタースイートな思い出がここから語られていきます。

“Do you know,” she continued, “one of the armed robbers, in fact the ring leader, was Raphael? He was our houseboy years ago. I don’t think you’ll remember him.”
I stared at my mother. “Raphael?”
“It’s not surprising he ended like this,” my father said. “He didn’t start well.”
My mind had been submerged in the foggy lull of my parents’ storytelling, and I struggled now with the sharp awakening of memory.
My mother said again, “You probably won’t remember him. There were so many of those houseboys. You were young.”
But I remembered. Of course I remembered Raphael.

両親とも先生なので本を読むように育てられたのですが、本人は本を好きになれなかったようです。Reading did not do to me what it did to my parentsなんて表現は受験英語好きの先生は喜ぶでしょうね

I worried, too, that I did not care for books. Reading did not do to me what it did to my parents, agitating them or turning them into vague beings lost to time, who did not quite notice when I came and went. I read books only enough to satisfy them, and to answer the kinds of unexpected questions that might come in the middle of a meal—What did I think of Pip? Had Ezeulu done the right thing? I sometimes felt like an interloper in our house.

一人娘である彼女が好きだったのはカンフー。まさにそれこそがRaphaelとの思い出の始まりだったのです。I longed to wake up and be Bruce Lee. I would kick and strike at the air, at imaginary enemies who had killed my imaginary family.なんて文章はブルースリーの強さに憧れた子供たちなら誰もが感じたことでしょう。

What I loved was kung fu. I watched “Enter the Dragon” so often that I knew all the lines, and I longed to wake up and be Bruce Lee. I would kick and strike at the air, at imaginary enemies who had killed my imaginary family. I would pull my mattress onto the floor, stand on two thick books—usually hardcover copies of “Black Beauty” and “The Water-Babies”—and leap onto the mattress, screaming “Haaa!” like Bruce Lee. One day, in the middle of my practice, I looked up to see Raphael standing in the doorway, watching me. I expected a mild reprimand. He had made my bed that morning, and now the room was in disarray. Instead, he smiled, touched his chest, and brought his finger to his tongue, as though tasting his own blood. My favorite scene. I stared at Raphael with the pure thrill of unexpected pleasure. “I watched the film in the other house where I worked,” he said. “Look at this.”

He pivoted slightly, leaped up, and kicked, his leg straight and high, his body all taut grace. I was twelve years old and had, until then, never felt that I recognized myself in another person.

YoutubeにもInstead, he smiled, touched his chest, and brought his finger to his tongue, as though tasting his own blood. My favorite scene.の動画がもちろんありました(笑)


On weekends, if my parents went to the staff club without me, Raphael and I watched Bruce Lee videotapes, Raphael saying, “Watch it! Watch it!” Through his eyes, I saw the films anew; some moves that I had thought merely competent became luminous when he said, “Watch it!” Raphael knew what really mattered; his wisdom lay easy on his skin. He rewound the sections in which Bruce Lee used a nunchaku, and watched unblinking, gasping at the clean aggression of the metal-and-wood weapon.
“I wish I had a nunchaku,” I said.
“It is very difficult to use,” Raphael said firmly, and I felt almost sorry to have wanted one.
Not long afterward, I came back from school one day and Raphael said, “See.” From the cupboard he took out a nunchaku—two pieces of wood, cut from an old cleaning mop and sanded down, held together by a spiral of metal springs. He must have been making it for at least a week, in his free time after his housework. He showed me how to use it. His moves seemed clumsy, nothing like Bruce Lee’s. I took the nunchaku and tried to swing it, but only ended up with a thump on my chest. Raphael laughed. “You think you can just start like that?” he said. “You have to practice for a long time.”


ちなみにApolloというのはここでは目の病気であるApollo diseaseを指しています。イラストは赤く腫れた目をイメージしていることを短編を読んだ後にわかりました。

急性出血性結膜炎(きゅうせいしゅっけつせいけつまくえん、英:acute haemorrhagic conjunctivitis )は、アフリカのガーナが発祥の目の病気。エンテロウイルス70またはコクサッキーA24変異株によって引き起こされる結膜炎。別名はアポロ病 (Apollo disease )[1]。



Apollo: how dangerous?
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10.Jul.2014 Victor Ogunyinka