The day of the locust (1939) – nathanael west

Title: The Day of the Locust (1939)
Author: Nathanael West
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
EBook No.: 0609041.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: November 2006
Date most recently updated: November 2006

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Around quitting time, Tod Hackett heard a great din on the road outside
His office. The groan of leather mingled with the jangle of iron and over
All beat the tattoo of a thousand hooves. He hurried to the window.

An army of cavalry and foot was passing. It moved like a. mob; its lines
Broken, as though fleeing from some terrible defeat. The dolmans of the
Hussars, the heavy shakos of the guards, Hanoverian light horse, with
Their fiat leather caps and flowing red plumes, were all jumbled together
In bobbing disorder. Behind the cavalry came the infantry, a wild sea of
Waving sabretaches, sloped muskets, crossed shoulder belts and swinging
Cartridge boxes.. Tod recognized the scarlet infantry of England with
Their white shoulder pads, the black infantry of the Duke of Brunswick,
The French grenadiers with their enormous white gaiters, the Scotch with
Bare knees under plaid skirts.

While he watched, a little fat man, wearing a cork sun-helmet, polo shirt
And knickers,

darted around the corner of the building in pursuit of the

“Stage Nine – you bastards – Stage Nine!” he screamed through a small

The cavalry put spur to their horses and the infantry broke into a
Dogtrot. The little man in the cork hat ran after them, shaking his fist
And cursing.

Tod watched until they had disappeared behind half a Mississippi
Steamboat, then put away his pencils and drawing board, and left the
Office. On the sidewalk outside the studio he stood for a moment trying
To decide whether to walk home or take a streetcar. He had been in
Hollywood less than three months and still found it a very exciting
Place, but he was lazy and didn’t like to walk. He decided to take the
Streetcar as far as Vine Street and walk the rest of the way.

A talent scout for National Films had brought Tod to the Coast after
Seeing some of his drawings in an exhibit of undergraduate work at the
Yale School of Fine Arts. He had been hired by telegram. If the scout had
Met Tod, he probably wouldn’t have sent him to Hollywood to learn set and
Costume designing. His large, sprawling body, his slow blue eyes and
Sloppy grin made him seem completely without talent, almost doltish in

Yes, despite his appearance, he was really a very complicated young man
With a whole set of personalities, one inside the other like a nest of
Chinese boxes.

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The day of the locust (1939) – nathanael west