Sinclair Lewis and Babbitt Essay

Sinclair Lewis and Babbitt Essay

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Sinclair Lewis and Babbitt

 
    The book under analysis herein is Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt.  The copy I am using in this research is published by Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., New York, 1950.  The original version was published in 1922, but there is no information in this book regarding what printing or edition it may be.  This edition encompasses thirty four chapters which span 401 pages in length as they are printed here.  One interesting note is that the novel is dedicated to Edith Wharton.

 

The author of the work, Sinclair Lewis, was born in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, and holds the distinction of being the first American ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.  Lewis was born in the late 19th century and lived until the middle of the 20th century so he witnessed many social transformations, including electricity, the automobile and the rise of industrialism and urban centers.  His college years were spent at Yale and he worked early in his writing career as a newspaper journalist and editor.  His early works like The Job:  An American Novel were characteristic of the satire and realism that would come to be trademarks of his mature style.  Lewis would go on to write novels that satirized with little mercy the small rural town (Main Street), the 9-to-5 businessman (Babbitt) and those who tried to prevent scientific truth from emerging (Arrowsmith).  Elmer Gantry and Dodsworth were also literary successes and each was made into a Hollywood motion picture. 

 

Lewis refused to accept the Pulitzer Prize for Arrowsmith because the terms of the award stated that it was not being awarded for literary merit, but for the best demonstration of "the wholesome atmosphere of American life" (Murphy  597).   L...


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...at Lewis must have been valid about such an environment if Sinclair would admit to such a belief.  Nonetheless, Lewis still enables us to believe in American society but refuses to allow us to accept its worse qualities as anything we should promote or perpetuate.

 

WORKS  CITED

Dooley, D. J. (ed.).  The Art of Sinclair Lewis.  Nebraska, Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1967.

Lewis, S.  Babbitt.  New York, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1950.

Mencken, H. L.  Portrait of an American citizen. Light, M.  (ed.).  The Merrill Studies in Babbitt.  Ohio, Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company, 1971:  25-27.

Murphy, B.  (ed.)  Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia.  (4th edit.).  New York, HarperCollins Publishers, 1996.

Sinclair, U.  Standardized America. Light, M.  (ed.).  The Merrill Studies in Babbitt.  Ohio, Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company, 1971:  28-31.

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