A Cool Million
  
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A Cool Million: The Dismantling of Lemuel Pitkin is Nathanael West's third novel, published in 1934. It is a brutal satire of eternal optimism.
A Cool Million, as its subtitle suggests, presents 'the dismantling of Lemuel Pitkin,' piece by piece. As a satire of the Horatio Alger myth of success, the novel is evocative of Voltaire's Candide, which satirized the philosophical optimism of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Alexander Pope. Pitkin is a typical '-Schlemiel', stumbling from one situation to the next; he gets robbed, cheated, unjustly arrested, frequently beaten and exploited. In a parallel plot Betty Prail, Pitkin's love interest, is raped, abused, and sold into prostitution. Over the course of the novel Pitkin manages to lose an eye, his teeth, his thumb, his scalp and his leg, but nevertheless retains his optimism and gullibility to the inevitably bitter end.
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