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自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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Difficulty of recognizing excellence in its own time

 


No one's loved as much as you. Don't, don't waste that power.

冒頭のサリフィールドのセリフの背景については以下の記事が詳しかったですが、映画のキャッチコピーも「史上最も愛された大統領」とリンカーンを評していますね。

アメリカ史のヒーロー 『リンカーン』: 台詞で学ぶアメリカ政治と歴史
清水純子 (映画英語教育学会・慶應義塾大学非常勤講師・筑波大学文学博士)

「史上最も愛された大統領」に関連して、アトランティックの記事で興味深いものがありました。同時代の人には この偉大な大統領も'Idiot,' 'Yahoo,' 'Original Gorilla'のような厳しい言葉を浴びせられていたというものです。

HISTORYJUNE 2013
'Idiot,' 'Yahoo,' 'Original Gorilla': How Lincoln Was Dissed in His Day
The difficulty of recognizing excellence in its own time
MARK BOWDENMAY 22 2013, 9:58 PM ET

By nearly any measure—personal, political, even literary—Abraham Lincoln set a standard of success that few in history can match. But how many of his contemporaries noticed?

Sure, we revere Lincoln today, but in his lifetime the bile poured on him from every quarter makes today’s Internet vitriol seem dainty. His ancestry was routinely impugned, his lack of formal learning ridiculed, his appearance maligned, and his morality assailed. We take for granted, of course, the scornful outpouring from the Confederate states; no action Lincoln took short of capitulation would ever have quieted his Southern critics. But the vituperation wasn’t limited to enemies of the Union. The North was ever at his heels. No matter what Lincoln did, it was never enough for one political faction, and too much for another. Yes, his sure-footed leadership during this country’s most-difficult days was accompanied by a fair amount of praise, but also by a steady stream of abuse—in editorials, speeches, journals, and private letters—from those on his own side, those dedicated to the very causes he so ably championed. George Templeton Strong, a prominent New York lawyer and diarist, wrote that Lincoln was “a barbarian, Scythian, yahoo, or gorilla.” Henry Ward Beecher, the Connecticut-born preacher and abolitionist, often ridiculed Lincoln in his newspaper, The Independent (New York), rebuking him for his lack of refinement and calling him “an unshapely man.” Other Northern newspapers openly called for his assassination long before John Wilkes Booth pulled the trigger. He was called a coward, “an idiot,” and “the original gorilla” by none other than the commanding general of his armies, George McClellan.

映画の冒頭でも取り上げられるGettysburg Addressについても、We pass over the silly remarks of the Presidentという批判があったのですね。

As for the Gettysburg Address—one of the most powerful speeches in human history, one that many American schoolchildren can recite by heart (Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth …) and a statement of national purpose that for some rivals the Declaration of Independence—a Pennsylvania newspaper reported, “We pass over the silly remarks of the President. For the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them, and they shall be no more repeated or thought of.” A London Times correspondent wrote, “Anything more dull and commonplace it wouldn’t be easy to produce.”


No man is a hero to his valet.(英雄も従者にはただの人)ということわざがあったりするように、同時代の人にとって、利害関係が絡むこともあり、手放しの偉人というのはいないかもしれません。

Of course, Lincoln was elected twice to the presidency, and was revered by millions. History records more grief and mourning upon his death than for any other American president. But the past gets simplified in our memory, in our textbooks, and in our popular culture. Lincoln’s excellence has been distilled from the rough-and-tumble of his times. We best remember the most generous of his contemporaries’ assessments, whether the magnanimous letter sent by his fellow speaker on the stage at Gettysburg, Edward Everett, who wrote to him, “I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes”; or Edwin Stanton’s “Now he belongs to the ages,” at the moment of his death; or Frederick Douglass’s moving tribute in 1876 to “a great and good man.”

This process of distillation obscures how Lincoln was perceived in his own time, and, by comparison, it diminishes our own age. Where is the political giant of our era? Where is the timeless oratory? Where is the bold resolve, the moral courage, the vision?

Imagine all those critical voices from the 19th century as talking heads on cable television. Imagine the snap judgments, the slurs and put-downs that beset Lincoln magnified a million times over on social media. How many of us, in that din, would hear him clearly? His story illustrates that even greatness—let alone humbler qualities like skill, decency, good judgment, and courage—rarely goes unpunished.

それだけ評価は難しいものであると同時に、過去や外国を見る時は理想化しやすいということでしょうか。

映画に戻れば、ユークリッド原論の公理が出てくる場面が印象的でした。公理をCommon Notionsというんですね。

Common Notions
Common notion 1. Things which equal the same thing also equal one another.(同じものと等しいものは互いに等しい)
Common notion 2. If equals are added to equals, then the wholes are equal.(同じものに同じものを加えた場合、その合計は等しい)
Common notion 3. If equals are subtracted from equals, then the remainders are equal. (同じものから同じものを引いた場合、残りは等しい)
Common notion 4. Things which coincide with one another equal one another. (互いに重なり合うものは、互いに等しい)
Common notion 5. The whole is greater than the part. (全体は、部分より大きい)





Euclid's first common notion is this: Things which are equal to the same things are equal to each other. That's a rule of mathematical reasoning and its true because it works - has done and always will do. In his book Euclid says this is self evident. You see there it is even in that 2000 year old book of mechanical law it is the self evident truth that things which are equal to the same things are equal to each other.

エレクトロニクスを専門に取り上げるEE Timesでは、エンジニアはこの場面だけでもリンカーンを観に行く価値があるとまで言っています(笑)

One scene in particular should be of interest to the engineer. In it, Day-Lewis’ Lincoln is again at the Telegraph Office, the chief executive’s refuge from the unrelenting pressures of the White House, the place where news from the front is received, unfiltered.

Lincoln regales the office clerks with a parable about the mathematician Euclid, mechanical law and its universality in the struggle to end slavery. This scene alone makes it worth seeing “Lincoln.”

もちろんリンカーンはThings which equal the same thing also equal one another.(同じものと等しいものは互いに等しい)を人間にみたてて解釈したわけなので、以下のようなトレーラーの文脈で解釈すべきなのでしょう。



ダニエルデイルイスとメリルストリープのどちらがすごい役者かは愚問かもしれませんが、ついついそういう俗なことも考えてみたくなるくらい素晴らしい演技だったと思います。その役には、リンカーンの声をみつけることがまず大事なことだったようですね。



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