JF Ptak Science Books 1150
Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel, Hobbes’ Leviathan, the Buddha at Yungang (Shanxi) and Melville’s whale were all pushed to their competitive monsterous edges in the 1950's, when you were more likely to think of The Bomb and creeping Communism before thinking back to any of these great representations. And it is also my general impression, having been paging through Life magazine for the 1950's, that there are some other major, lesser heralds of gigantism, especially if you paid attention only to the advertisements. There were 1950's colossal characters who were pale imitators of their earlier counterparts–the Amazing Colossal Man and Colossal Woman being two minor mirrors of older ideas--but they hardly contained the colossal ideas that were resident in the earlier creations. (Perhaps part of that is due to having just witnessed the demise of two enoromities in Hitler Stalin.)
The new Pantegruels seem to have been television (completely victimizing and nearly eradicating radio in its day), giant cars, liquor, cigarettes, breasts, and, television, followed by television. There was also the movies, with films filmed in super-spectro-pano-fabulism; and of course there were the computers (the 1943 machine at Bletchley Park was actually called the “Colossus” with Mark 1 and Mark 2 varieties, which were actually less colossal than the other period colossi such as the Harvard Mark I/IBM ASCC and ENIAC), which just now turning the corner on “big” and getting faster/smaller/more powerful, and also fulfilling the “Giant Brains” dream.
I’m not sure, but it feels right to say that there is a direct correlation to things getting both bigger and smaller as things got faster.
Anyway the new Colossuses/Colossi were hardly as attractive and had virtually no literary value compared with their earlier Rabelaisical counterparts or the giant 4th century BCE statue bearing that name in the harbor at Rhodes. It is certainly true that the big things that were imagined in the 20th century were beyond any conception of “big” in the Western Canon of Big. (There are certainly great big things in other cultures, say, in India for examples, where there are entities and numbers so vast that there was nothing to compare them with in the West. But that’s another story.)