October 26, 2012
Orson Welles’ 1945 broadcast of Fitzgerald’s The Diamond as Big as the Ritz
by Kevin Murphy
This January, Melville House is releasing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Diamond as Big as the Ritz as part of its Art of the Novella series.
The book, which displays many of Fitzgerald’s famous trademarks, including an obsession with youth, striking language, morality compromised by wealth, class structure, and characters gasping in the face of BEAUTY, is a delightfully sinister tale set in Montana and recounts the adventures of John Unger, who as a student at an elite New England prep school befriends the mysterious and wealthy Percy Washington. Washington invites Unger to summer with him out west at his family’s ridiculously opulent estate, whereupon John’s world, and all his impressions of it, are turned upside down.
The Diamond as Big as the Ritz is also a HybirdBook, which takes the concept of the enhanced ebook and integrates it with print media.
Each book in the HybridBook program features not only the core text of the novel, but extensive additional material rendered in digital form — the Melville House Illuminations. The Illuminations consist of highly curated text, maps, photographs and illustrations related to the original book.
Turning up these literary nuggets takes some sleuthing, and in the process we come across a wide variety of amazing content. An example of this, below, is Orson Welles’ broadcast of an adaptation of Fitzgerald’s book on This is My Best, a radio program he wrote, produced, and starred in during the 1940s.
Enjoy (broadcast begins at the 1:30 mark).
For more Fitzgerald ephemera, vist our Tumblr.
Kevin Murphy is the digital media marketing manager of Melville House.