感慨 in English
Updated: Jan 7, 2021
The recent death of Fou Ts'ong reminds me of the letters from his father, which culminated in a collection entitled Fu Lei jia shu 傅雷家書 (The Family Letters by Fu Lei). (For a period of approximately five years, I devoured various major collections of Chinese letters -- my fondness for this genre began with 'Last Letter to his Wife' by Lin Juemin 林覺民.)
Fu Lei's letters to his son were immensely scholarly. The following is an excerpt about translation dated 2 September 1961:
有時就是(deeply) affected, (deeply) moved；有時是(He is) affected with painful recollections; the music (或詩或文) calls forth painful memories 或 stirs up painful (or mournful, melancholy) memories。如嫌painful太重，就說那音樂starts a train of melancholy thoughts, (sorrowful, mournful, sad) thoughts。對人生的慨嘆有時不 用memory, recollection，就用reflection，形容詞還是那幾個，e.g. His letter is full of sad reflections on life。"
據我的看法，＂感慨＂、＂慨嘆＂純是描寫中國人特殊的一種心理狀態，與西洋人的 recollection固大大不同，即與reflection亦有出入，故難在外文中找到恰當的 equivalent。英文的recollection太肯定，太"有所指"；reflection又嫌太籠統，此字本義是反應、反映。我們的感慨只是一種悵惘、蒼茫的情緒，說sad也不一定sad，或者未免過分一些；毋寧是帶一種哲學意味的mood，就是說感慨本質上是一種情緒，但有思想的成分。