In reference to my post on the development of instant suburban slums as a result of the housing crunch, my sister points out that years before Pohl and Kornbuth made “Belle Rêve” (aka “Belly Rave”) the prototype fictional slum of that sort it was the name of Blanche Dubois’s lost home in A Streetcar Named Desire. Pohl and Kornbluth would have known that, even though I didn’t.
Now I saw Streetcar once, years before I read Gladiator-at-Law, and if you’d asked me two days ago “Who is Blanch Dubois?” I might well have come up with the right answer. And yet the allusion went right over my head. It makes you wonder how much you’re missing when you read an older text, whose author was familiar with a whole literature you’ve never read, much of it no longer extant: Shakespeare or Plato, for example.