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mistybay
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"A Clean Well Lighted Place"

I am still trying to figure out where if any discussion is taking place. I thought we were to start to discuss this short story. I'm unable to figure out the system. I've read this short story several times,(as is a good idea with most literature) and each time I see more and more. I enjoy the way he plays light and against dark. I agree with those who suggest we separate the authors private life from his work.
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Laurel
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Re: "A Clean Well Lighted Place"

Someone, please! Tell me what is so wonderful about this story!
"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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to mistybay

[ Edited ]

mistybay wrote:
I am still trying to figure out where if any discussion is taking place. I thought we were to start to discuss this short story. I'm unable to figure out the system. I've read this short story several times,(as is a good idea with most literature) and each time I see more and more. I enjoy the way he plays light and against dark. I agree with those who suggest we separate the authors private life from his work.




Mistybay you are doing it exactly right. You just started a thread on the short story (to which I am hereby replying). What you can do now is to post 'reply ' to your own 'thread', a post where you share your thoughts about the story. Others might respond, it is up to them. Hopefully they will, this is about a dialog after all.

Unless we are struck by a paralell process and sit here stum like Hemingway's raw characters in the bar.

good luck, keep going, this is the right path
ziki

PS
suggestion: try threaded vs. linear mode= go to your profile and try to see how you can adjust forum's interface for your own viewing and use. That is a matter of your own taste and preference.

Message Edited by ziki on 02-07-200701:02 AM

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Re: "A Clean Well Lighted Place"



Laurel wrote:
Someone, please! Tell me what is so wonderful about this story!




I am not sure if it is meant to be wonderful...I read it, so also the Killers and I did nothing. ActuallI finishea secon rate romance, blah. Now three days later the story starts amking movements.

There is no shortcut in, Laurel, methinks. Don't try to figure him out, listen instead.
Right now I hear you say-- not knowing, discomfort, some confusion, stretching out for help....so far so good. How are these things (reflected right now through you) formed in the story.


If you don't hear anything then that is a cue, too. Who in the story is not heard?

come back
ziki
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ELee
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Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

“Some lived in it and never felt it but he knew it was nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada…”

After I finished reading ACWLP, I thought about “the Nothing” in “The Neverending Story”: a big, empty vortex devouring everything familiar that we come to know as “our lives”. The old man in the café had his own “Nothing”. The darkness, the loneliness, the despair of advanced age, of losing a loved one, of questioning the reason for one’s [continued] existence was slowly consuming him. His deafness isolated him from the human contact of an outside world that might have diverted him. His desperate bid to end his deterioration by suicide was successfully thwarted by his niece. What remained for him was to anesthetize himself with brandy in a clean, well-lighted place, holding the darkness at bay in the calm of late night, where he would not be reminded of the “nothing” by his deafness to the bustle of life passing him by. A place where he could still be a man with human dignity and worth, and not the victim of thoughtless, disrespectful, over-confident youth who labels him a “nasty thing” and wishes he were dead.
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Laurel
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"



ELee wrote:
“Some lived in it and never felt it but he knew it was nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada…”

After I finished reading ACWLP, I thought about “the Nothing” in “The Neverending Story”: a big, empty vortex devouring everything familiar that we come to know as “our lives”. The old man in the café had his own “Nothing”. The darkness, the loneliness, the despair of advanced age, of losing a loved one, of questioning the reason for one’s [continued] existence was slowly consuming him. His deafness isolated him from the human contact of an outside world that might have diverted him. His desperate bid to end his deterioration by suicide was successfully thwarted by his niece. What remained for him was to anesthetize himself with brandy in a clean, well-lighted place, holding the darkness at bay in the calm of late night, where he would not be reminded of the “nothing” by his deafness to the bustle of life passing him by. A place where he could still be a man with human dignity and worth, and not the victim of thoughtless, disrespectful, over-confident youth who labels him a “nasty thing” and wishes he were dead.




Thank you, ELee! Excellent analysis. I'll read it again.

I also thought of King Lear's "Never. Never. Never. Never. Never." (or something like that.
"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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fanuzzir
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

One of the admirable things about this story from an artistic standpoint is that it creates a sense of dignity from an anonymous, otherise meaningless event, a drunk old man in an ordinary bar with two ordinary waiters hovering over him. Like Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, the story evokes the poignancy of a forgotten person, then moves to encompass the sad lives of those who observe the old man. The ending goes down the rabbit hole into one of Hemingway's greatest fears, the meaninglessness of the grand effort to live fully and gloriously, and puts it into an ordinary waiter's thoughts. We are all philosophers of this dread, he is saying, though we are all anonymous to each other. He sees a kind of modern anti-heroic bravery in facing down such moments in everday life without a lot of notoriety.
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zman
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

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.
_______________________________________________

Overheard in the Student Union at Brandeis University:
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Laurel
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

Lovely picture, Z! Thank you. You all are helping me immensely.



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.


"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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MacNCheese
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Re: "A Clean Well Lighted Place"

[ Edited ]
I am with Laurel. I do not so much find this story wonderful, but maybe to an insight to Hemingways own life. It is interesting that the focus seems to be on the old man but for me I think the focus is really the older waiter. He is trying to defend the old man, but in reality he is defending himself and his own fears. He needs the cafe to stay open for himself because he, like the patron, needs company. He finds himself mose lonely at night, in the dark, therefore needs others company that share his fears. But if he went to a bar, like it said "you can not stand before a bar with dignity" This cafe is his facade to his own life, he tells others and himself he wants to stay open for others when in reality he is doing it for himself. When in reality he is the one with the fears and is afraid to stand up for himself. At the end of the day when there is no one else to focus on but oneself he says "Many must have it", he is trying to convince himself that his fears, which he wont stand up for, is normal.

Message Edited by MacNCheese on 02-07-200712:58 PM

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Laurel
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Re: "A Clean Well Lighted Place"



MacNCheese wrote:
I am with Laurel. I do not so much find this story wonderful, but maybe to an insight to Hemingways own life. It is interesting that the focus seems to be on the old man but for me I think the focus is really the older waiter. He is trying to defend the old man, but in reality he is defending himself and his own fears. He needs the cafe to stay open for himself because he, like the patron, needs company. He finds himself mose lonely at night, in the dark, therefore needs others company that share his fears. But if he went to a bar, like it said "you can not stand before a bar with dignity" This cafe is his facade to his own life, he tells others and himself he wants to stay open for others when in reality he is doing it for himself. When in reality he is the one with the fears and is afraid to stand up for himself. At the end of the day when there is no one else to focus on but oneself he says "Many must have it", he is trying to convince himself that his fears, which he wont stand up for, is normal.

Message Edited by MacNCheese on 02-07-200712:58 PM






Exactly, Mac. The older waiter is the protagonist of this story. We learn much about him, some of it indirectly. I wish him a good night's sleep. He is a good person, though sad.
"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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fanuzzir
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Modernist technique

I saw a similar artistic analogy to a Modernist painting: an abstract form, a dash of color or the outline of a shape, and the human element gets filled in with repeated viewings. It really is one of the more abstract of Hemingway's stories--no names, no plot, no past or future. Very experimental.
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MacNCheese
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Re: "A Clean Well Lighted Place"

Exactly, Mac. The older waiter is the protagonist of this story. We learn much about him, some of it indirectly. I wish him a good night's sleep. He is a good person, though sad.




Thanks. I clearly dont know the "lingo" so sorry about a repeated point. But thats why I am here. Next time I will look it up before I respond:smileyhappy:
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Laurel
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Re: "A Clean Well Lighted Place"



MacNCheese wrote:
Exactly, Mac. The older waiter is the protagonist of this story. We learn much about him, some of it indirectly. I wish him a good night's sleep. He is a good person, though sad.




Thanks. I clearly dont know the "lingo" so sorry about a repeated point. But thats why I am here. Next time I will look it up before I respond:smileyhappy:




There's no need to use lingo, Mac. I just couldn't think of another word right then. I do remember stopping and thinking about it, though.
"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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PacificSoul
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Re: "A Clean Well Lighted Place"

Does anyone have any thoughts on the "leaves and light" mentioned twice in the story?
PacificSoul
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mistybay
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Re: "A Clean Well Lighted Place"

I felt in a couple of his short stories that Hemingway uses a lot of irony. For instance I associate light or day with hope and night or dark with despair. In ACWLP, the old man finds daytime to be "dusty" or unpleasant. At night he can "feel the difference", and he goes to a false light where he is still drawn to the shade (dark)of the trees. No matter how he tries, he can't shake despair. Even his attempt at suicide is a failure. I found a similar irony in another very, very short story, Chapter II, but that's for another thread. I would like to hear others thoughts on the leaves as well.
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jimgysin
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Re: Let's discuss "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"


fanuzzir wrote:

The ending goes down the rabbit hole into one of Hemingway's greatest fears, the meaninglessness of the grand effort to live fully and gloriously, and puts it into an ordinary waiter's thoughts. We are all philosophers of this dread, he is saying, though we are all anonymous to each other.


This is so apparent in all of his work, which is why I think it's fair to say that he was obsessed with death and the dark side of human nature. Reading his work can get fairly depressing if you don't take regular breaks for something else (which for me at the moment is Nelson DeMille). When you look at the sum of Hemingway's work, it's not surprising that he made the choices he made at the end of his life.

-- Jim
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Laurel stole my letter



Laurel wrote:
Lovely picture, Z! Thank you.





Laurel! Give it back at once, Z is mine letter here. :-p LOL

If music speaks to you, think here docecaphony of Schoenberg. You know that he described it himself as a "Method of Composing with Twelve Tones Which are Related Only with One Another".

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



jimgysin wrote: Reading his work can get fairly depressing if you don't take regular breaks for something else ....-snip-




=drinking...you can't do too much of it without feeling the effect. I treat him as spice or a medicine (as I said elsewhere). Or you go on a Hemingway binge now and then. And some will never like him . Zelda obviously didn't IRL.

ziki
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Re: "A Clean Well Lighted Place"



MacNCheese wrote:
I am with Laurel. I do not so much find this story wonderful....



In my opinion there isn't anything wonderful about the story, it's pretty depressing when you think of it.

ziki
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