In the fall of 1920, Sinclair Lewis began a novel set in a fast-growing city with the heart and mind of a small town. For the center of his cutting satire of American business he created the bustling, shallow, and myopic George F. Babbitt, the epitome of middle-class mediocrity. The novel cemented Lewis’s prominence as a social commentator.
Babbitt basks in his pedestrian success and the popularity it has brought him. He demands high moral standards from those around him while flirting with women, and he yearns to have rich friends while shunning those less fortunate than he. But Babbitt’s secure complacency is shattered when his best friend is sent to prison, and he struggles to find meaning in his hollow life. He revolts, but finds that his former routine is not so easily thrown over.
About the Author
Nobel Prize-winning writer Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) is best known for novels like Main Street, Babbitt, Arrowsmith (for which he was awarded but declined the Pulitzer Prize), and Elmer Gantry. A writer from his youth, Lewis wrote for and edited the Yale Literary Magazine while a student, and started his literary career writing popular stories for magazines and selling plots to other writers like Jack London. Lewis's talent for description and creating unique characters won him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1930, making him the first American writer to win the prestigious award. Considered to be one of the "greats" of American literature, Lewis was honoured with a Great Americans series postage stamp, and his work has been adapted for both stage and screen.
Richard Lingeman, a senior editor at The Nation, is the author of many distinguished nonfiction books, including Sinclair Lewis: Rebel from Main Street; a two-volume biography of Theodore Dreiser: Theodore Dreiser: At the Gates of the City and Theodore Dreiser: An American Journey (Chicago Sun-Times Book of the Year);" "Small Town America: A Narrative History,
"From the Hardcover edition."
“[It is] by its hardness, its efficiency, its compactness that Mr. Lewis’s work excels.”—Virginia Woolf