Title: The Diamond as Big as the Ritz.
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Genre: Novella, coming-of-age, satire, fantasy.
Publication Date: June, 1922.
Summary: The story of John T. Unger, a young Southerner who goes to Montana for summer vacation with a wealthy college classmate. But the classmate’s family proves to be much more than simply wealthy: they own a mountain made entirely of one solid diamond. And they’ve gone to dreadful lengths to conceal their secret… meaning John could be in danger.
My rating: 8/10
♥ The Montana sunset lay between two mountains like a gigantic bruise which dark arteries spread themselves over a poisoned sky. An immense distance under the sky crouched the village of Fish, minute, dismal, and forgotten. There were twelve men, so it was said, in the village of Fish, twelve sombre and inexplicable souls who sucked a lean milk from the almost literally bare rock on which a mysterious populatory force had begotten them. They had become a race apart, these twelve men of Fish, like some species developed by an early whim of nature, which on second thought had abandoned them to struggle and extermination.
One of the blue-black bruise in the distance crept a long line of moving lights upon the desolation of the land, and the twelve men of Fish gathered like ghosts at the shanty depot to watch the passing of the seven o’clock train, the Transcontinental Express from Chicago. Six times or so a year the Transcontinental Express, through some inconceivable jurisdiction, stopped at the village of Fish, and when this occurred a figure or so would disembark, mount into a buggy that always appeared from out of the dusk, and drive off towards the bruised sunset. The observation of this pointless and preposterous phenomenon had become a sort of cult among the men of Fish. To observe, that was all; there remained in them none of the vital quality of illusion which would make them wonder or speculate, else a religion might have grown up around the mysterious visitations. But the men of Fish were beyond all religion - the barest and most savage tenets of even Christianity could gain no foothold on that barren rock - so there was no altar, no priest, no sacrifice; only each night at seven the silent concourse by the shanty depot, a congregation who lifted up a prayer of dim, anaemic wonder.
♥ Afterwards John remembered that first night as a daze of many colours, of quick sensory impressions, of music soft as a voice in love, and of the beauty of things, lights and shadows, and motions and faces. There was a white-haired man who stood drinking the many-hued cordial from a crystal thimble set on a golden stem. There was a girl with a flowery face, dressed like Titania with braided sapphires in her hair. There was a room where the solid, soft gold of the walls yielded to the pressure of his hand, and the room that was like a platonic conception of the ultimate prison - ceiling, floor, and all, it was lined with an unbroken mass of diamonds, diamonds of every size and shape, until, lit with tall violent lamps in the corners, it dazzled the eyes with a whiteness that could be compared only with itself, beyond human wish or dream.
♥ He was enjoying himself as much as he was able. It is youth’s felicity as well as its insufficiency that it can never live in the present, but must always be measuring up the day against its own radiantly imagined future - flowers and gold, girls and stars, they are only pre-figurations and prophecies of that incomparable. unattainable young dream.
♥ ‘When I was visiting the Schnlitzer-Murphy’s, the eldest daughter, Gwendolyn, married a man whose father owns half of West Virginia. She wrote home saying what a tough struggle she was carrying on on his salary as a bank clerk - and then she ended up by saying that “Thank God, I have four good maids anyhow, and that helps a little.”’
‘It’s absurd,’ commented Kismine. ‘Think of the millions and millions of people in the world, labourers and all, who get along with only two maids.’
♥ “What a dream it was,” Kismine sighed, gazing up at the stars. “How strange it seems to be here with one dress and a penniless fiancé!”
“Under the stars,” she repeated. “I never noticed the stars before. I always thought of them as great big diamonds that belonged to someone. Now they frighten me. They make you feel that it was all a dream, all my youth.”
“It was a dream,” said John quietly. “Everybody’s youth is a dream, a form of chemical madness.”
“How pleasant then to be insane!”
“So I’m told,” said John gloomily. “I don’t know any longer. At any rate, let us love for a while, for a year or so, you and me. That’s a form of divine drunkenness that we can all try. There are only diamonds in the whole world, diamonds and perhaps the shabby gift of disillusion. Well, I have that last and I will make the usual nothing of it.” He shivered. “Turn up your coat collar, little girl, the night’s full of chill and you’ll get pneumonia. His was a great sin who first invented consciousness. Let us lose it for a few hours.”