The Diamond As Big As the Ritz And Other Stories: The Diamond As Big As the Ritz; Bernice Bobs Her Hair; the Ice Palace; May Day; the Bowl (Penguin Popular Classics) Paperback – 27 Sep 2007
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
About the Author
F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in St Paul, Minnesota, and went to Princeton University which he left in 1917 to join the army. Among his publications were five novels, This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and the Damned, Tender is the Night and The Love of the Last Tycoon (his last and unfinished work): six volumes of short stories and The Crack-Up, a selection of autobiographical pieces. Fitzgerald died suddenly in 1940.
Top customer reviews
At least one of the stories has a startling end and the characters in each are very well drawn. These pieces are definitely a commentary on the times in which they were written, but I think they still have a lot to say to us today.
John T. Unger is an intelligent, sixteen-year-old boy who's spent his life with his comparatively well-to-do family in Hades, a small town near the Mississippi River. He's sent to St Midas's School in Boston where he spends 2 years with boys from much more wealthy and well-to-do families but one boy, the pleasant and aloof Percy Washington, never talks about his parents or background. It is only when John accepts Percy's invitation to spend the summer holiday at Percy's house that Percy confides that his father is the richest man in the world and owns a diamond that's bigger than the Ritz.
Initially sceptical, John soon finds himself in the Montana Rockies. There he's introduced to a world of wealth and privilege unlike anything that he's ever known before. Legions of black slaves tender to his every whim in an exquisite chateau filled with the finest jewels, fabrics and wines. But the Washingtons furiously protect their privacy and the secret of their wealth, using anti-aircraft guns to bring down aircraft flying overhead and imprisoning or even killing the pilots.
As John descends into the madness that comes with wealth and power, he falls in love with Percy's sister Kismine and resolves to tap some of the family's wealth to enrich himself, only to find himself caught up in an all-too-literal attack against the Washingtons and their life.
Fitzgerald's short story is an interesting read, not least because some of the themes set out within it are refined in THE GREAT GATSBY (published in 1925). The story deviates into absurdism and at times it was difficult to tell to what extent Fitgerald is satirising the wealthy - not least because the central character of John Unger is not easy to sympathise with, given his venal and petty leanings. The attitude to race is very much of its time and at times the portrayal of the black slaves made me uncomfortable (especially the passivity with which they meet their end).
Because the book's only one short story, it's for Fitgerald completists only, although it is worth checking out.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s favourite subject was the rich. From his greatest creation, Jay Gatsby, to this, his most famous short story, Fitzgerald absolutely adores writing about the glamorous lives they led. Also, not being of that world, he was quite critical of it too and The Great Gatsby is a damning portrayal of the rich’s behaviour. The Diamond as Big as the Ritz is more of the same but is written in a more fantastical, less artistic style.
The names of the places are very unsubtle. John Unger is from Hades (Mississippi) just so at the end they can, literally, go back to Hades, to a less luxurious life, because the middle class is so ghastly/hellish, what! He attends the prestigious St Midas’s University – wealth is a religion in America and their patron saint is Midas, a name synonymous with gold. The University produces “priests” of wealth who produce more for their “god”.
Also that first page is just weird. Unger’s mum packs his bags with electric fans – what, were they like currency back in the 1920s? Why does he need plural fans? – while his dad gives him an asbestos pocketbook full of cash. He’s gonna need that money to pay for his cancer treatment from that asbestos! It’s pretty poorly dated and that’s not even mentioning the “negro slaves” constantly present in the background!
The story itself is quite boring and overlong. Fitzgerald witters on with his descriptions of his idea of wealth back in the day (literally rolling out of bed into a bath, every single morning – ooo, how… mundane), while slowly uncovering this uninteresting story of how fabulous wealth isolates people and makes them do terrible things. It’s a dull tale with very on-the-nose themes.
I love The Great Gatsby – it’s an entertaining, bittersweet tale beautifully written with a powerful message at its core. I’ve read it at least three times. In comparison, Diamond is slow, boring, poorly written with nothing insightful to say – almost like a less talented writer is trying to parody Fitzgerald! Both stories are essentially about the same thing but Gatsby does so in far better style – read that instead.
I remember one of these stories from a film at the end of the War ("This Happy Breed"), presumably when he was working in Hollywood.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?