Three Echoes In Scott Fitzgerald

My dotage being devoted to reading what should have been read long ago, it is only now that I have ticked off The Diamond as Big as the Ritz. It came as a great surprise, as I had assumed that the title was hyperbole about some cut stone even larger than the Koh-i-Noor. Not a bit of it, it was utter fantasy about a mountain in Montana made of diamond, so that that the equal size with the Ritz Carlton was meant quite literally.

I was further struck by three echoes of or in three other works. The inability of the protagonist to escape the valley reminded me of Wells’ The Country of the Blind. Since this was published in 1904, it might have influenced Fitzgerald or it might simply be an inevitable storyteller’s trope. The congruence between the 2003 film Goodbye Lenin and the mountain-owner’s bringing his slaves up to believe that the South had won the civil war would have to be influence in the opposite direction, or else a happy coincidence.

Far more serious and sinister, however, is the initial set-up, where the mad plutocrat family have removed their treasure or refuge from the rest of the United States, by dint of corruption of the cartographical records plus life detention of foot visitors plus anti-aircraft guns. Aviation being then in its infancy, that would surely be easier than Ayn Rand’s SF-magical forcefield valley roof in Atlas Shrugged. I doubt it is provable, but intuitively this feels like a real case of influence, that is to say, it feels as if Rand acquired the idea for her solipsistic rich man’s paradise from Fitzgerald. After all, the story was very well-known in its day. What Fitzgerald meant as a surrealistic satire, however, Rand seemed to take perfectly seriously as a pillar of the new religion she created.

Posted on February 29, 2020 at 17:24 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!, Randians And Aristocrats

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