Hemingway의 단편집 ‘A clean, well-lighted place’는 허무주의 소설을 대표하는 작품이라고 할 수 있다. 사실 이 작품을 처음 읽었을 때의 그 느낌은 별로 큰 감흥을 주지 못했으니 그것은 내가 허무주의를 제대로 이해하지 못하고 있는 것이리라.
조금 어렵고 난해한 내용이지만 몇번 읽으면서 곱씹어보면 여러모로 많은 생각에 잠기게 해주는 작품이다. 이 작품에서 ‘nada’의 의미와 삶의 의미를 읽어버린 사람에게 있어서의 특정한 장소의 의미라는 것은 어쩌면 우리가 살아가는 이 세계에서 나만이 각자 가지고 있을지도 모르는 그런 장소일 것이다.
단편이기에 글의 글 전체의 원문을 링크해 놓았다. 비록 책으로 읽는 감흥은 없을지라도 한 번 읽어보면 좋의 의미가 되리라. 시간이 있다면 한번 읽어보기 바란다.
It was very late and everyone had left the cafe except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light. In the day time the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference. The two waiters inside the cafe knew that the old man was a little drunk, and while he was a good client they knew that if he became too drunk he would leave without paying, so they kept watch on him. “Last week he tried to commit suicide,” one waiter said. “Why?” “He was in despair.” “What about?” “Nothing.” “How do you know it was nothing?” “He has plenty of money.” They sat together at a table that was close against the wall near the door of the cafe and looked at the terrace where the tables were all empty except where the old man sat in the shadow of the leaves of the tree that moved slightly in the wind. A girl and a soldier went by in the street. The street light shone on the brass number on his collar. The girl wore no head covering and hurried beside him. “The guard will pick him up,” one waiter said. “What does it matter if he gets what he’s after?” “He had better get off the street now. The guard will get him. They went by five minutes ago.” The old man sitting in the shadow rapped on his saucer with his glass. The younger waiter went over to him. “What do you want?” The old man looked at him. “Another brandy,” he said. “You’ll be drunk,” the waiter said. The old man looked at him. The waiter went away. “He’ll stay all night,” he said to his colleague. “I’m sleepy now. I never get into bed before three o’clock. He should have killed himself last week.” The waiter took the brandy bottle and another saucer from the counter inside the cafe and marched out to the old man’s table. He put down the saucer and poured the glass full of brandy. “You should have killed yourself last week,” he said to the deaf man. The old man motioned with his finger. “A little more,” he said. The waiter poured on into the glass so that the brandy slopped over and ran down the stem into the top saucer of the pile. “Thank you,” the old man said. The waiter took the bottle back inside the cafe. He sat down at the table with his colleague again. “He’s drunk now,” he said. “He’s drunk every night.” “What did he want to kill himself for?” “How should I know.” “How did he do it?” “He hung himself with a rope.” “Who cut him down?” “His niece.” “Why did they do it?” “Fear for his soul.” “How much money has he got?” “He’s got plenty.” “He must be eighty years old.” “Anyway I should say he was eighty.” “I wish he would go home. I never get to bed before three o’clock. What kind of hour is that to go to bed?” “He stays up because he likes it.” “He’s lonely. I’m not lonely. I have a wife waiting in bed for me.” “He had a wife once too.” “A wife would be no good to him now.” “You can’t tell. He might be better with a wife.” “His niece looks after him. You said she cut him down.” “I know.” “I wouldn’t want to be that old. An old man is a nasty thing.” “Not always. This old man is clean. He drinks without spilling. Even now, drunk. Look at him.” “I don’t want to look at him. I wish he would go home. He has no regard for those who must work.” The old man looked from his glass across the square, then over at the waiters. “Another brandy,” he said, pointing to his glass. The waiter who was in a hurry came over. “Finished,” he said, speaking with that omission of syntax stupid people employ when talking to drunken people or foreigners. “No more tonight. Close now.” “Another,” said the old man. “No. Finished.” The waiter wiped the edge of the table with a towel and shook his head. The old man stood up, slowly counted the saucers, took a leather coin purse from his pocket and paid for the drinks, leaving half a peseta tip. The waiter watched him go down the street, a very old man walking unsteadily but with dignity. “Why didn’t you let him stay and drink?” the unhurried waiter asked. They were putting up the shutters. “It is not half-past two.” “I want to go home to bed.” “What is an hour?” “More to me than to him.” “An hour is the same.” “You talk like an old man yourself. He can buy a bottle and drink at home.” “It’s not the same.” “No, it is not,” agreed the waiter with a wife. He did not wish to be unjust. He was only in a hurry. “And you? You have no fear of going home before your usual hour?” “Are you trying to insult me?” “No, hombre, only to make a joke.” “No,” the waiter who was in a hurry said, rising from pulling down the metal shutters. “I have confidence. I am all confidence.” “You have youth, confidence, and a job,” the older waiter said. “You have everything.” “And what do you lack?” “Everything but work.” “You have everything I have.” “No. I have never had confidence and I am not young.” “Come on. Stop talking nonsense and lock up.” “I am of those who like to stay late at the cafe,” the older waiter said. “With all those who do not want to go to bed. With all those who need a light for the night.” “I want to go home and into bed.” “We are of two different kinds,” the older waiter said. He was now dressed to go home. “It is not only a question of youth and confidence although those things are very beautiful. Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be some one who needs the cafe.” “Hombre, there are bodegas open all night long.” “You do not understand. 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.” “Good night,” said the younger waiter. “Good night,” the other said. Turning off the electric light he continued the conversation with himself, It was the light of course but it is necessary that the place be clean and pleasant. You do not want music. Certainly you do not want music. Nor can you stand before a bar with dignity although that is all that is provided for these hours. 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 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. He smiled and stood before a bar with a shining steam pressure coffee machine. “What’s yours?” asked the barman. “Nada.” “Otro loco mas,” said the barman and turned away. “A little cup,” said the waiter. The barman poured it for him. “The light is very bright and pleasant but the bar is unpolished,” the waiter said. The barman looked at him but did not answer. It was too late at night for conversation. “You want another copita?” the barman asked. “No, thank you,” said the waiter and went out. He disliked bars and bodegas. A clean, well-lighted cafe wa s a very different thing. Now, without thinking further, he would go home to his room. He would lie in the bed and finally, with daylight, he would go to sleep. After all, he said to himself, it’s probably only insomnia. Many must have it
1930년대 이전에 Lost Generation의 대변자로서 Hemingway는 환멸과 허무를 바탕으로 Nihilism(허무주의)의 근원인 무가치한 삶의 무목적성 및 죽음, 순간적인 쾌락을 내용으로 한 작품을 써 왔다. 그러나 이러한 허무주의적 사상은 “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”(1933)라는 단편을 계기로 새로운 돌파구를 찾았다. 기존의 무가치한 가치관, 세계관 에 어떠한 새로운 가치를 세우려는 시도조차 없었던 초기 작품에 비해 이 작품은 Hemingway가 허무의 상징인 어둠과 무질서에 대조되는 밝음과 질서와 청결이라는 요소를 발견해낸다.
이 작품에 나타나는 ‘nada’는 허무가 초극되는 공간을 상징한다. 이 카페의 늙은 웨이터는 누구나 조용히 앉아서 자신의 ‘nada’로부터 일시적이나마 잊을 수 있는 피신처이자 안식처로 만들려고 한다. 따라서 그는 젊은 웨이터가 자기 아내에게 빨리 돌아가고자 철시를 서두르는 것을 못마땅해한다. 게다가 젊은 웨이터가 카페의 단골손님인 노인이 지난주의 자살 시도가 미수로 끝난 것을 빈정거리는 것에 대해 안타까워한다. 그는 젊은 웨이터의 무관심, 이기심, 그리고 사려 없는 옅은 생각 때문에 카페가 그 노인에게 보람있는 장소로 제공된다는 의의를 모른다고 생각한다. 또, 젊은 웨이터가 이 카페가 아니더라도 철야 영업을 하는 선술집과 주점이 있다고 반발하는 것에 늙은 웨이터는 이 카페가 청결하고 불이 밝아 서 다른 선술집과는 다르다는 것을 주장한다.
이 단편은 두 웨이터를 통해서 대조적인 두 가지 힘을 제시한다. 하나는 불빛을 밝혀서 지키려는 사람의 힘이고 다른 하나는 이 빛과 인간이 힘을 무력화시키려는 사방에 둘러싸고 있는 암흑의 힘이다. 이러한 암흑의 힘에 늙 은 웨이터는 작은 힘으로나마 대항하고 있다. 이러한 점에서 젊은 웨이터는 의도적이 아닐 지라도 ‘nada’에 기여하는 인물이라면 늙은 웨이터는 ‘nada’에 대항하여 싸우는 인물이라고 할 수 있다.
“Our nada who our in nada, nada be thy name kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada, as it is in nada.”(P.32) “다 허무, 허무하다. 허무에 계신 우리들의 허무이시여. 그대 이름은 허무이시니라.”
“Our Father which out in heaven,……” 으로 시작되는 주기도문이 모든 중요한 단어를 ‘nada’로 바꾸어 말하는 늙은 웨이터의 독백이다. 일상생활의 공허와 허무를 상징하는 암흑에 홀로 한줄기 밝은 빛으로 허무에 빠진 이들을 위해 카페를 밤늦게까지 열어 두고 싶어하는 늙은 웨이터의 모습에서 허무주의에 대한 초극 의지를 볼 수 있다.
이 작품 “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”는 Hemingway의 Nihilism의 작품에서 한 단계 발전 하는 작품으로서 그 의의가 있다. 이 작품 이후에 Hemingway는 ‘To Have and Have not’(1939)에서는 과거의 허무주의를 극복하고 사회문제와 정치, 경제적 문제로 관심을 돌리고 있으며, ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’(1940)에 이르러서는 그의 주제 의식이 허무에서 긍정으로 완전히 변모되었음을 보여준다. 그리고 ‘The Old Man and the Sea’(1952)에 이르러서는 Hemingway 문학의 마지막 도달점인 Stoicism에로의 사상 변화를 가져오게 된다.