William Gerhardie: Jazz and Jasper, the Story of Adams and Eva (US: Eva’s Apples, a Story of Jazz and Jasper; republished as My Sinful Earth and then as Doom)
The first problem with this novel is the title. It was originally published in England as Jazz and Jasper, the Story of Adams and Eva, then published in the USA as Eva’s Apples, a Story of Jazz and Jasper, as the American publishers maintained that the word jazz had been worn threadbare in the USA. In the 1947 edition it was called My Sinful Earth. Then, in the 1974 edition, it was rechristened Doom, the name Gerhardie originally wanted to call it! I have copies of all four versions and, as far as I can see, they are all substantially the same.
The hero in this novel is Frank Dickin, another Gerhardie substitute. He is summoned by the Beaverbrook substitute, Lord Ottercove, to whom he reads excerpts from his new novel Pale Primroses, about a family of Russian refugees and which bears a resemblance to his two previous novels, which he is clearly making fun of. Indeed, the parody Pale Primroses is so poor that Ottercove calls it the rottenest book of the century. Of course, Dickin becomes a huge success. Gerhardie has considerable fun playing off the parody and the real novel – indeed Ottercove, when listening to Dickin reading from Pale Primroses, is unable to determine which is which. He also enjoys himself poking fun at Ottercove/Beaverbrook. Journalism, in Gerhardie/Dickin’s view, does just as much to encourage fantasy as do novels. Ottercove/Beaverbrook, like other real and imaginary press barons before and after him, likes rearranging lives and rearranging history for his own short-term benefit.
As the US title tells us, there is also Eva, Frank’s girlfriend, whose main role might well be as the mother of Adam, first of the new race. But there are other more interesting characters. Vernon Sprott the foreman of British fiction, proud of purse and dexterous with the pen, clearly based on Arnold Bennett, is the funniest but we meet not just disguised characters but real ones such as H G Wells, Stanley Baldwin and George Bernard Shaw. But the character of Ottercove, part parody, part homage but part warning of the unrestrained power of the press baron, makes this novel.
First published 1928 by Duckworth