chapter  2
4 Pages

Larry Barretto, the Great Light

A gay man, Roswell Cleminshaw, dominates only one chapter of The Great Light (Farrar, Straus, 1947), but he is a pivotal figure in the life of the central character, Dirck Ericson. Just what the violent and confrontational scenes between the two actually constitute is somewhat difficult to understand or explain. Dirck is given to hallucinations, is seeking some kind of inner truth or beauty, and is never fully developed as a character. As critic “J. B.” wrote in The New York Times (October 19, 1947), the author assures us that Dirck is “an extraordinary and sensitive person who is seeking for absolute beauty. Unfortunately, however, he succeeds in bringing Dirck to life primarily in those scenes where his conduct is anything but saintly.”