Friday, September 21, 2007

The Diamond As Big As the Ritz by F. Scott Fitzgerald


The Diamond As Big As the Ritz has just this very last sickly eve been elevated to my favorite Fitzgerald story of all time (move aside, Gatsby; beg your pardon, Bernice). This is by far the most gilded of all the gilden F. Scott fiction; but it is also possessing of a unique darkness. The motif of wealth and the lengths to which the wealthy shall go to secure and preserve their riches is not foreign to Fitzgerald, but I have always found his stories to be steeped in reality with a lens of romance. This tale is a prime hunk of romanticism with mere seasonings of reality. Pure fantasticalism and an inevitable bleakward spiral. What better literature to escape within, when your nose is currently functioning as a faucet, than this:

"Good morning, sir. Are you ready for your bath, sir? Oh, don't get up--I'll put you in, if you'll just unbutton your pajamas--there. Thank you sir."

John lay quietly as his pajamas were removed--he was amused and delighted; he expected to be lifted like a child by this black Gargantua who was tending him, but nothing of that sort happened; instead he felt the bed tilt up slowly on its side--he began to roll, startled at first, in the direction of the wall, but when he reached the wall its drapery gave way, and sliding two yards further down a fleecy incline he plumped gently into water the same temperature as his body.

He looked about him. The runway or rollway on which he had just arrived had folded gently back into place. He had been projected into another chamber and was sitting in a sunken bath with his head just above the level of the floor. All about him, lining the walls of the room and the sides and bottom of the bath itself, was a blue aquarium, and gazing through the crystal surface on which he sat, he could see fish swimming along amber lights and even gliding without curiosity past his outstretched toes, which were separated from them only by the thickness of the crystal. From overhead, sunlight came down through sea-green glass.

"I suppose, sir, that you'd like hot rosewater and soapsuds this morning, sir--and perhaps cold salt water to finish."

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