Friday, December 2, 2016

Papa couldn't sleep.

Hemingway struggled with insomnia his entire life. It threaded through the maudlin letters he wrote to other writers, and was entrenched in the characters of his stories. In “A Clean Well Lighted Place,” an old waiter muses about insomnia: Many must have it, he says, to comfort himself.  
The waiter takes comfort in the brightness of the restaurant, even in the nighttime; he doesn’t want to leave and head back to his empty house, where he knows he will lie awake until morning. This is a clean and pleasant cafe. It is well lighted. 
The light is very good and also, now, there are shadows of the leaves, he tells another waiter in the story. It makes me wonder if Hemingway longed to be there in that bar, or in a place like it, when his own insomnia struck; sleeplessness, after all, seems less of a burden in a clean, well-lighted place. 
In the same story, there is a discussion of a suicide attempt by another character—a thwarted attempt, but the other waiter wished he had succeeded: You should have killed yourself last week, he mutters to the man, bitterly. Thirty years after writing this story, Hemingway, in a state of insomnia, would attempt suicide once, and fail, before actually completing the deed in the early morning hours of July 2, 1961....

No comments:

Post a Comment

We enjoy hearing from visitors! Please leave your questions, thoughts, wish lists, or whatever else is on your mind.