Students are working on a choice reading project at the moment, so I’m reading in class, as well. This morning, I read a bunch of Hemingway’s short stories. I’m not a huge fan of Hemingway’s novels – though The Sun Also Rises has some amazing moments and is, unlike, for me, any of the others, worth reading – but I almost always like his short stories. What’s more, they strike me, ultimately, as much richer thematically than the longer works. I find much more to think about in them. Or, at least, I find myself actually wanting to think about them more.
In any case, here’s a great moment from near the end of “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.”
“What did he fear? It was not fear or dread. It was a nothing that he knew too well. It was all a nothing and a man was nothing too. It was only that and light was all it needed and a certain cleanness and order. Some lived in it and never felt it but he knew it all was nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada. Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee.”
You got to admit: that’s fantastic. The whole story is.
Twenty years from now, running for the senate, I’ll destroy my campaign by answering a question about attending church by quoting part of that: “Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name…”