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Re: "A Clean Well Lighted Place"



PacificSoul wrote:
Does anyone have any thoughts on the "leaves and light" mentioned twice in the story?




I don't have any thoughts about it whatsoever and for that I am glad if I say so. To me it is just beautiful. A language that speaks 'beyond the words' (I do not know exactly how to put it.)
Like in 'white elephants' I think he opens very strongly, sets the whole mood for the story.

If I had to explain abbreviation in writing to someone I would definitely use that sentence twice repeated as an example.

But it you absolutely want to understand and add also an intellectual meaning to it then I'd suggest that you play with the opposites captured in that picture (light/shadow, day/night) and add the theme of death to it (again).

ziki

PS
(As I am writing this I'm reminded of Kundera and musical themes in writing---in case someone wants to pick up on that thread.)
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

[ Edited ]

ELee wrote:His deafness isolated him from the human contact of an outside world that might have diverted him.




Yet it didn't prevent the waiter from speaking to him.

ziki
(Nice summary ELee)

Message Edited by ziki on 02-10-200709:31 AM

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fanuzzir
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

[ Edited ]

ziki wrote:

zman wrote: In this story, the characterizations of the old drunk and the two waiters imply vast and varied histories, but we only hear a few notes of those histories - we see only a bit of a rich landscape through a tiny window.




For me it is different. In the description of light/shadow in one tiny sentence/stroke/moment I see all warm evenings in Cuba or Greece or South America, I see all husbands wanting to go to bed, the whole ungraspable pastorale...and that is the beauty, the total opening into it All through the minimal situation of Now.

The whole universe in the grain of sand that's what he is for me.
ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 02-10-200706:42 AM






I agree with both these points, both so eloquent. I see the waiter as the protagonist, more than I did the first reading, and the old man as the occasion for his self-reflection. And his wife in bed waiting--that seems to be the "ungraspable pastorale" that Z so eloquently evoked, and which Hemingway seems to believe can keep the nada away one more day . . .

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 02-10-200708:03 PM

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zman
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

Yes, that was well said Ziki. I particularly liked the phrase "...the total opening into it All through the minimal situation of Now." That's not only true, but clever.

As far as analogies go, I find it difficult and often problematic to get too precise about a comparitive analysis between literature and music. You mentioned Schoenberg and his twelve-tone method of composition. Schoenberg (and his disciples Berg and Webern) were in my opinion an hyperextension of the complicated chromaticism of the late 19th century espoused by composers such as Wagner, Strauss, Reger, etc.

But there were other composers that created their own unique musical languages, and those languages had little or nothing to do with the methods of Schoenberg. A great deal of music in the early 20th century could perhaps be compared to the literature of the same period. That WOULD be a fascinating study.

Now that I've given that elaborate disclaimer, I do have certain thoughts about the relationship between music and literature in the early 20th century, but that would have to be another post on another day when it isn't 10:30 PM and I haven't had a few wee drams. :smileyhappy:
_______________________________________________

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ELee
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Leaves and shadows

The leaves are like Hemingway's writing; each leaf self-contained and declarative like the sentences that create his stories. They block the light in ever changing ways as they move gently in the breeze. The shadows are small openings into the great beyond of Hemingway's darkness. As we peer into these little windows searching for clues, we see only shadowy suggestions of his meaning before the breeze moves and closes them. Sometimes they bring a vague, uncomfortableness that we can't quite recognize. The old man in the cafe (like Hemingway) is on the darkened side in the shadows, looking toward the light that is obstructed by the leaves.
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Laurel
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Re: Leaves and shadows

Beautiful, ELee!



ELee wrote:
The leaves are like Hemingway's writing; each leaf self-contained and declarative like the sentences that create his stories. They block the light in ever changing ways as they move gently in the breeze. The shadows are small openings into the great beyond of Hemingway's darkness. As we peer into these little windows searching for clues, we see only shadowy suggestions of his meaning before the breeze moves and closes them. Sometimes they bring a vague, uncomfortableness that we can't quite recognize. The old man in the cafe (like Hemingway) is on the darkened side in the shadows, looking toward the light that is obstructed by the leaves.


"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"



fanuzzir wrote:

ziki wrote:

zman wrote: In this story, the characterizations of the old drunk and the two waiters imply vast and varied histories, but we only hear a few notes of those histories - we see only a bit of a rich landscape through a tiny window.




For me it is different. In the description of light/shadow in one tiny sentence/stroke/moment I see all warm evenings in Cuba or Greece or South America, I see all husbands wanting to go to bed, the whole ungraspable pastorale...and that is the beauty, the total opening into it All through the minimal situation of Now.

The whole universe in the grain of sand that's what he is for me.
ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 02-10-200706:42 AM






I agree with both these points, both so eloquent. I see the waiter as the protagonist, more than I did the first reading, and the old man as the occasion for his self-reflection. And his wife in bed waiting--that seems to be the "ungraspable pastorale" that Z so eloquently evoked, and which Hemingway seems to believe can keep the nada away one more day . . .

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 02-10-200708:03 PM






Who Z?

z.
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Sheena
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

I'm new to book clubs, as well as reading Hemingway but I really want to jump into the discussion without sounding to ridiculously stupid. I guess my question is what is the significance of the waiters? I know they give substance to the story but do they have something to do with the light and dark that seems to be a huge theme throughout the story. Does the light and dark represent life and death and if so is the older waiter afraid of death. He said he was apart of "those who need a light at night" If so are we all afraid of darkness or "death" in some way. If I am way off or if this does not make any sense I greatly apologize like I said I am new and learning.
"Living would be an awfully big adventure"
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

Hi Sheena,
if someone thinks that you sound ridiculously stupid it is never your problem.
At the same time I'd say don't give your questions away easily in this 'time of hemingway'...he will speak to you but we can't figure out for you how...so what do you think?
I just saw the waiters as players in that setting, more like shadows in life but there can be more to them. What would be your own association?

dark....death you said
light....
waiter....

ziki
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bryan87613
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

Good point--implied harmony or counterpoint is an excellent approach to A Clean Well-Lighted Place. Within the sparse texture of the story there is a rich counterpoint between the young and old waiters, the old man, and the minor characters. The implied harmonies of the individual lives (as lived outside the cafe) adds a sense of ambiguity and melancholy--in a minor key.


zman wrote:
Some interesting insights here - let me add an analogy from the world of music that may speak to Hemingway's techniques.

When Bach, for instance, wrote the Brandenburg Concerti, he was writing for full instrumental ensembles, taking as much time as he wanted to fully realize all of his harmonic ideas. However, when he wrote the Cello Suites, he was writing for only one instrument, and all the harmonic complexity of the pieces had to be implied by that one instrument. Sometimes only one note is used to suggest a particular harmony.

After having read a number of Hemingway's short stories now, I feel that he is frequently utilizing a similar technique.

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Re: "A Clean Well Lighted Place"

I thkn this is a wonderful story because it depicts the fear of death (chaos, e.g. disorder,as opposed to CLEAN and WELL-LIGHTED) the old man has with the kind of thing we all experience when we're young (e.g. the younger waiter) who just doesn't understand.
As Hemingway said, 90% of stories are below the surface.

Some people have trouble with Hemingway, and many literary writers, because they are used to people not Grisham or Stephen King who make it so easy for readers and TELL them everything instead of the literary manner -- e.g. RENDERING. The dramatic manner -- rendering -- forces readers to actually do the work of reading.
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Seattleslew
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Re: "A Clean Well Lighted Place"

In my post about the difference between literary writers and commercial writers I used the word "NOT" when I meant to write "LIKE." How that happened I'll never know. But unless you substitute the mright word for the wrong, my point is lost.
Sheesh!
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Choisya
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

Your interpretation is as good as anyone elses Sheena so please don't apologise. After all, Hemingway isn't here to tell us what he meant so it is all conjecture to a great extent. I quite like the idea of the waiters representing light and dark, particularly as they are usually dressed i9n black and white.




Sheena wrote:
I'm new to book clubs, as well as reading Hemingway but I really want to jump into the discussion without sounding to ridiculously stupid. I guess my question is what is the significance of the waiters? I know they give substance to the story but do they have something to do with the light and dark that seems to be a huge theme throughout the story. Does the light and dark represent life and death and if so is the older waiter afraid of death. He said he was apart of "those who need a light at night" If so are we all afraid of darkness or "death" in some way. If I am way off or if this does not make any sense I greatly apologize like I said I am new and learning.


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Choisya
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Re: Leaves and shadows

One of your all time great posts E Lee! Thanks!




ELee wrote:
The leaves are like Hemingway's writing; each leaf self-contained and declarative like the sentences that create his stories. They block the light in ever changing ways as they move gently in the breeze. The shadows are small openings into the great beyond of Hemingway's darkness. As we peer into these little windows searching for clues, we see only shadowy suggestions of his meaning before the breeze moves and closes them. Sometimes they bring a vague, uncomfortableness that we can't quite recognize. The old man in the cafe (like Hemingway) is on the darkened side in the shadows, looking toward the light that is obstructed by the leaves.


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Choisya
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

Great musical and artistic analogies here Zman - thanks!



zman wrote:
Some interesting insights here - let me add an analogy from the world of music that may speak to Hemingway's techniques.

When Bach, for instance, wrote the Brandenburg Concerti, he was writing for full instrumental ensembles, taking as much time as he wanted to fully realize all of his harmonic ideas. However, when he wrote the Cello Suites, he was writing for only one instrument, and all the harmonic complexity of the pieces had to be implied by that one instrument. Sometimes only one note is used to suggest a particular harmony.

After having read a number of Hemingway's short stories now, I feel that he is frequently utilizing a similar technique. In this story, the characterizations of the old drunk and the two waiters imply vast and varied histories, but we only hear a few notes of those histories - we see only a bit of a rich landscape through a tiny window.

Only a master could suggest so much meaning in such a small space. I believe it's much more difficult to write a short story than a full-blown novel in that sense - I believe it's enormously difficult to be "simple" without falling into the trap of being "simplistic". It reminds me of another analogy, this one from the world of painting.

I remember watching a film of Picasso painting pictures in stop-time filming, or whatever that's called. One picture was a scene on a lake. He started out with a skeleton and added details - a villa, waterskiiers, boats, he changed the buildings, he painted over the boats with other boats, he painted over the entire scene and turned it into night, he took out the waterskiiers, he changed the buildings again, etc. etc. Finally after dozens of changes, he tears the paper off the easel and crumples it up. "Now I know what I want," he says, and in about one minute and perhaps 30 strokes of the brush gives us a painting that only Picasso could - a rather minimalist scene that contained all the complexity of all the scenes he had "researched" in the prior sketch.


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fanuzzir
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"



Sheena wrote:
I'm new to book clubs, as well as reading Hemingway but I really want to jump into the discussion without sounding to ridiculously stupid. I guess my question is what is the significance of the waiters? br>



I know I said something about this way back, but I'm still not sure what they're doing dramatically here. Are they just witnesses? Are we supposed to care about them? Is Hemingway's point that even onlookers to tragedy have tragedies of their own? I get the style; I just want the "backstory," or plot.
Bob
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styles



Seattleslew wrote:....forces readers to actually do the work of reading.




hmmm...less and less of that stuff as Holywood slowly invades even books and stoops the ways in which we tell stories into given forms.
ziki
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

[ Edited ]

fanuzzir wrote:I know I said something about this way back, but I'm still not sure what they're doing dramatically here. Are they just witnesses? Are we supposed to care about them? Is Hemingway's point that even onlookers to tragedy have tragedies of their own? I get the style; I just want the "backstory," or plot.
Bob




You can't afford the luxury of a plot and meaning in an existential drama of angst and alienation. This story is the most Sartre one from those I read so far (strange criteria, I know).

The whole background story is simple: he was born.

Anyhow, he tries to light the darkness, keeps it tidy but goes to sleep first when the day comes. Night keeps him awake, he tries to occupy himself. Waiting on whom? Waiting for whom, what? It is about the trap of opposites (duality), fear of life and light...and most importantly: no way out. Plot would lead you through it...comfortably. There is no comfort to be found in this place, however well lit it is. No matter how obsessively clean. The drama is noir as noir can be no matter how many spotlights one adds.

They are all prisoners. There are no nuances of human relating in there, all is black and white and dead and cold and finally you get old and die anyhow so it gets even more hopeless even if you have a wife and a couple of kiddies in your bed. That is why people commit suicides. Now this guy failed even that. Where to from there? Saved into what? Characters are cut outs fueled by alcohol with soul in hiding. Ghosts in a ghost land.'Tis is so far the most scary story. You can't shoot these feelings as you can shoot lions and macombers. This is the end my friend. And there is the faint idea that money solves it all. No way. This is an ongoing drama with no outcome but sleep or death.

huugh...walk into that country....it's tough.

ziki

PS
Choisya, do not read this, enjoy some gardening book to see that life just is, no need to think about it. And happy birthday! BN did some heavy duty crazy reading choises this winter. I do not think the lit editors really had any clue and considered what total impact they can have on people who'd decide to follow their whole program. Totally depressing. I almost went down for count, too, and I skipped some of it. Take care! Love and light to you, thinking about you a lot; I still remember your birthday day last year and the things you've done then. :-) Rose petals over you and champagne bubbles.We'll tackle the Dostojevski one next months as a big crescendo to this dark tunnel. Be well.

Message Edited by ziki on 02-14-200707:04 AM

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fanuzzir
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No Exit

[ Edited ]

ziki wrote: You can't afford the luxury of a plot and meaning in an existential drama of angst and alienation. This story is the most Sartre one from those I read so far (strange criteria, I know).

The whole background story is simple: he was born.



I cannot improve on that.

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 02-14-200709:16 PM

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Re: No Exit



fanuzzir wrote:I cannot improve on that.




I know, I wish I could.
ziki
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