So my hyper-educated Yalie friend — the one who isn’t a cop hating socialist — got really mad at me for not liking Ernest Hemingway. He pressed me to reread “A Clean Well Lighted Place.” I’m thinking he forgot it included the clunkiest, most ostentatiously nihilist paragraph of the 20th century:
What did he fear? It was not a fear or dread, It was a nothing that he knew too well. It was all a nothing and a man was a 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 naday 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. He smiled and stood before a bar with a shining steam pressure coffee machine.
Meaning btw the whole story is a piece of pretentious crap. There was a better writer and a better story about visiting a bar in Paris. The author was F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Called Babylon Revisited. It included some of the best prose ever written in English:
Outside, the fire-red, gas-blue, ghost-green signs shone smokily through the tranquil rain. It was late afternoon and the streets were in movement; the bistros gleamed. At the corner of the Boulevard des Capucines he took a taxi. The Place de la Concorde moved by in pink majesty; they crossed the logical Seine, and Charlie felt the sudden provincial quality of the Left Bank.
Charlie directed his taxi to the Avenue de l’Opera, which was out of his way. But he wanted to see the blue hour spread over the magnificent façade, and imagine that the cab horns, playing endlessly the first few bars of La Plus que Lent, were the trumpets of the Second Empire. They were closing the iron grill in front of Brentano’s Book-store, and people were already at dinner behind the trim little bourgeois hedge of Duval’s. He had never eaten at a really cheap restaurant in Paris. Five-course dinner, four francs fifty, eighteen cents, wine included. For some odd reason he wished that he had.
Fitzgerald was the greatest Irish writer, up to and including Yeats. Zincavage prefers Hemingway, the second rater I can only read on aeroplanes.