C(ourtlandt) D(ixon) B(arnes) Bryan Jonathan Yardley - Essay

Jonathan Yardley

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

To anyone who came to maturity in the fifties the sentiment of Alfred Moulton, narrator of the first half of "The Great Dethriffe," will ring engagingly true: "without any stylish era to call my own I had become an heir to a previous generation's myth, content to keep up appearances until something grander came along." C.D.B. Bryan's point is essentially true: the legend of F. Scott Fitzgerald, which is more or less the subject of this novel, in many respects had more meaning to us children of the Ike Age than to those of the Jazz Age. Unhappily, the novel has not much more to offer than that premise, itself not especially original.

Check that. "The Great Dethriffe" holds some interest also as an attempt to rewrite "The Great Gatsby"; if nothing else, Mr. Bryan deserves admiration for his cheek. The rewriting attempt is indirect, of course, an effort to translate the Gatsby story into contemporary terms. Though the ambition is admirable, the result is, at the very best, merely diverting.

Mr. Bryan's Jay Gatsby is George Dethriffe, a gentlemanly young business sort whose detached exterior conceals a somewhat muted Gatsbyesque concern with image and a decidedly Gatsbyesque yearning for the Daisy Buchanan of this novel. She is Alice Townsend, an incandescently beautiful Daisy-Zelda who turns out to be a classic bitch. (p. 46)

Purely as domestic melodrama and suburban-bedroom sociology, "The Great...

(The entire section is 593 words.)