Babbitt: Original and Unabridged (Paperback)

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Babbitt, by Sinclair Lewis, is largely a satire of American culture, society, and behavior, it critiques the vacuity of middle-class American life and its pressure toward conformity. An immediate and controversial bestseller, Babbitt is one of Lewis's best-known novels and was influential in the decision to award him the Nobel Prize in literature in 1930.

Lewis has been both criticized and congratulated for his unorthodox writing style in Babbitt. As one reviewer puts it: "There is no plot whatever... Babbitt simply grows two years older as the tale unfolds." Lewis presents a chronological series of scenes in the life of his title character. After introducing George F. Babbitt as a middle-aged man, "nimble in the calling of selling houses for more than people could afford to pay," Lewis presents a meticulously detailed description of Babbitt's morning routine.

In writing Babbitt, Lewis had very clear goals. He wanted to create not a caricature but a living and breathing individual with recognizable hopes and dreams. In a letter to his publisher, Lewis wrote: "He is all of us Americans at 46, prosperous but worried, wanting - passionately - to seize something more than motor cars and a house before it's too late." Babbitt's mediocrity is central to Lewis's hopes of creating a realistic character. He believed the fatal flaw of other authors' attempts to capture the American businessman was that they always made him out to be exceptional. In early descriptions of Babbitt, Lewis mused: "This is the story of the ruler of America." As he saw it, the "Tired American Businessman" wielded power not through his exceptionality, but through militant normalcy. But Lewis also strove to portray the American businessman as deeply dissatisfied and privately aware of his shortcomings. He was "the most grievous victim of his own militant dullness" and secretly longed for freedom and romance. Readers praising Lewis for his "realism" eagerly admitted the regularity with which they encountered Babbitts in their daily lives, but could also relate to some of Babbitt's anxieties about conformity and personal fulfillment.

The word "Babbitt" entered the English language as a "person and especially a business or professional man who conforms unthinkingly to prevailing middle-class standards".

About the Author

Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 - January 10, 1951) was an American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters." His works are known for their insightful and critical views of American capitalism and materialism between the wars. He is also respected for his strong characterizations of modern working women. H.L. Mencken wrote of him, "[If] there was ever a novelist among us with an authentic call to the trade ... it is this red-haired tornado from the Minnesota wilds."

Product Details
ISBN: 9781499745658
ISBN-10: 1499745656
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2014
Pages: 298
Language: English