martes, 20 de octubre de 2015

The Capital of the World - Ernest Hemingway


No, he would not be afraid. Others, yes. Not he. He knew he would not be afraid. Even if he ever was afraid he knew that he could do it anyway. He had confidence.

Simplicity is the key. I know. A simple plot can become a work of art thanks to great writing. In this ambivalent relationship I am having with Hemingway, the more I read, the more confused I am. So far, I had a similar reaction only towards Cortázar's work.
A new contestant has arrived. However, I have nothing but good news, today. In a parallel universe, this is the Hemingway I would sing Christmas carols with. (Inside joke.)

"The Capital of the World" is a short story about a young man named Paco who lived in Madrid. He worked as a waiter in a hotel called Pension Luarca, where bullfighters usually stayed. They are described as second-rate matadors, since they achieved greatness but because of certain circumstances, their careers were reduced to memories.

Well, Paco's dream was to become a bullfighter. Even though I can't relate to the romanticism he saw in that heinous activity, I do understand the feeling of having a dream that seems bigger than one's existence. And the reactions it might generate.
Paco was surrounded by people leading dull lives without any prospect. On the contrary, he was a cheerful boy full of dreams and ideals, typical of youth. (Typical?) He was waiting for a chance to create the future he was longing for. Unafraid. Overconfident, even. A raw melody tempting tragedy. Something evoking sailors being lured by an irresistible song.

Paco's joy and desires of fulfilling his dreams can't dissipate the melancholic atmosphere of Hemingway's prose. The smothering sense of nostalgia and loss lies in every page of this short story. (Recurrent themes I always enjoy in this sometimes futile search for empathy.) The author offered some character development that gives the story the psychological depth I always look for. I saw a boy full of illusions, ready to prove everybody wrong. Eager to accomplish his lifetime goal. Unwilling to stay in the same place, beholding how other people's lives were fading out, in silence. Until they are nothing more than blurred lines in the air moving mechanically, helping others to fulfill their wishes.
Paco is not the perfect example, though his eagerness to make his dream come true certainly leaves you pondering about where do you want to go. The defeated bullfighters remembering the greatness of bygone days, leave you thinking about where you are now.
Different questions emerge from all the characters of this story. The answers might soothe you. If you are lucky enough.

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