Main Street and Babbitt (LOA #59) (Library of America Sinclair Lewis Edition #1)
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Main Street (1920), Lewis's first triumph, was a phenomenal event in American publishing and cultural history. Lewis's idealistic, imaginative heroine, Carol Kennicott, "longs to get [her] hands on one of those prairie towns and make it beautiful,” but when her doctor husband brings her to Gopher Prairie, she finds that the romance of the American frontier has dwindled to the drab reality of the American Middle West. The great romantic satire of its decade, Main Street is a wry, sad, funny account of a woman who attempts to challenge the hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness of her community.
In the character of George F. Babbitt, the boisterous, vulgar, worried, gadget-loving real estate man from Zenith, Lewis fashioned a new and enduring figure in American literature—the total conformist. Babbitt is a “joiner,” who thinks and feels with the crowd. Lewis surrounds him with a gallery of familiar American types—small businessman, Rotarians, Elks, boosters, supporters of evangelical Christianity. In biting satirical scenes of club lunches, after-dinner speeches, trade association conventions, fishing trips and Sunday School committees, Lewis reproduces the noisy restlessness of American commercial culture.
In 1930 Sinclair Lewis was the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, largely for his achievement in Babbitt. These early novels not only define a crucial period in American history—from America’’s “coming of age” just before World War I to the dizzying boom of the twenties—they also continue to astonish us with essential truths about the country we live in today.
LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Praise For Sinclair Lewis: Main Street and Babbitt (LOA #59) (Library of America Sinclair Lewis Edition #1)…
Library of America, 9780940450615, 898pp.
Publication Date: September 1, 1992
About the Author
John Hersey (1914–1993), volume editor, published fifteen books of fiction and nine of reportage and essays, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In 1937 he served as Sinclair Lewis’’s secretary.