Grimy, decadent, slowly decaying into a sensuous layer of thick dust, the One-Pound Gospel
sits modestly on its pedestal in the museum at Carribeault
, symbolizing the fields of gilded lilies which grew out of the revival movement of the 1920s
Religion, religion, mad religion, amidst the wild bootlegging sins of the age, produced the One-Pound Gospel. It was sold by weight, like Testamints, like American flag tins filled with candy faith. The whole thing weighed slightly over a pound, which confused the machinery that cut and bound the supposedly exact manuscripts, and thousands were distributed - each containing a slightly different majority of the Bible - before the company producing them went under.
Nabokov lived during this time, of course, with his collection of butterfly dicks. The Apocalypse came and went, as illustrated by atomic bombs and aisles full of artificial strawberry-banana flavoring at the local grocery store. The Gospels were sold at the check-out stand, next to lurid packages of bubble gum and sugary romance novels. Like the rash of American flag memorabilia which came later, the content didn't much matter; "These Colors Don't Run" made as much sense as a half-printed verse from the Book of Revelations. The point was to own it, to be seen owning it, to prove faith through the action of purchasing something advertising it.
Marx and Engels had recently written their Communist Manifesto, which predicted all manner of dreadfully accurate calamities from capitalism. Perhaps it was in defense against "godless" communism that the most devotedly capitalist nation on Earth packaged God up in wildly colorful wrappers for sale at bargain basement prices. Perhaps it was merely its inevitable conclusion. Now, the last known copy of this once-ubiquitous text sits in a vacuum-sealed archival room, unvisited.