Babbitt

Front Cover
Courier Corporation, 2003 - Fiction - 305 pages
31 Reviews
Prosperous and socially prominent, George Babbitt appears to have everything a man could wish: good health, a fine family, and a profitable business in a booming Midwestern city. But the middle-aged real estate agent is shaken from his self-satisfaction by a growing restlessness with the limitations of his life. When a personal crisis forces a reexamination of his values, Babbitt mounts a rebellion against social expectations jeopardizing his reputation and business standing as well as his marriage.
Widely considered Sinclair Lewis's greatest novel, this satire of the American social landscape created a sensation upon its 1922 publication. Babbitt's name became an instant and enduring synonym for middle-class complacency, and the strictures of his existence revealed the emptiness of the mainstream vision of success. His story reflects the nature of a conformist society, in which the pressures of maintaining propriety can ultimately cause individuals to lose their place in the world.
Babbitt ranks among the important 20th-century works addressing the struggles of people caught in the machinery of modern life, and it remains ever-relevant as a cautionary tale against clinging to conventional values.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
5
4 stars
14
3 stars
10
2 stars
0
1 star
2

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - santhony - LibraryThing

For Christmas, I ordered an mp3 player (Library of Classics) that was pre-loaded with 100 works of classic literature in an audio format. Each work is in the public domain and is read by amateurs, so ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - clq - LibraryThing

Blindly delving into old classics is always kind of interesting: has it aged well? What makes it a classic? Babbit started out really promising: very funny in an old fashioned, observational humour ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

CHAPTER 1
1
CHAPTER 2
11
CHAPTER 3
19
CHAPTER 4
30
CHAPTER 5
40
CHAPTER 6
53
CHAPTER 7
70
CHAPTER 8
79
CHAPTER 19
180
CHAPTER 20
192
CHAPTER 21
198
CHAPTER 22
203
CHAPTER 23
207
CHAPTER 24
215
CHAPTER 25
225
CHAPTER 26
231

CHAPTER 9
93
CHAPTER 10
100
CHAPTER 11
111
CHAPTER 12
116
CHAPTER 13
120
CHAPTER 14
135
CHAPTER 15
145
CHAPTER 16
155
CHAPTER 17
163
CHAPTER 18
171
CHAPTER 27
238
CHAPTER 28
245
CHAPTER 29
253
CHAPTER 30
266
CHAPTER 31
275
CHAPTER 32
281
CHAPTER 33
290
CHAPTER 34
297
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2003)

The first American to win the Nobel Prize for literature, Sinclair Lewis was a busy and popular writer whose novels chronicle the social history of his time and constitute what Maxwell Geismar called "a remarkable diary of the middle class mind in America." The work that won him the Nobel Prize was a group of novels that realistically depicted various aspects of American life. Main Street (1920), his first important work, is a scathing picture of provincialism in the small town of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, which Lewis modeled on his hometown of Sauk Centre, while Babbitt (1922), a moving account of midlife crisis experienced by an average American businessman, actually succeeded in adding a new word to the American dictionary---babbitry, or the ultimate in shallow, middle-brow materialism. Continuing a blend of social criticism with sympathy, Lewis wrote Arrowsmith (1925), in which the idealism of a devoted scientist and physician is contrasted with the materialistic forces that try to capitalize on his discoveries. Though offered the Pulitzer Prize for this novel, he refused it. Elmer Gantry (1927) is a portrait of a dissolute but successful evangelist, while Dodsworth (1929) deals with a retired industrialist whose material success and ambitious wife have failed to provide emotional sustenance. Lewis succeeded in bringing to life the talk and actions common to the middle classes of America. Although some of the conditions he describes now seem peculiarly dated, his people remain convincingly real. Lewis's sense of responsibility to society seemed to become all the stronger after his Nobel Prize, and some of the books he wrote afterward have topical subjects that now seem rather dated. It Can't Happen Here (1935) forecast an imaginary coming of fascism to the United States, Gideon Planish (1943) exposed corruption in organized philanthropy, Kingsblood Royal (1947) was one of the first novels to deal with the evils of racial prejudice, and Cass Timberlane (1945), originally subtitled A Novel of Husbands and Wives, gave a long, clear look at the institution of marriage in its story of a Minnesota judge and his young second wife. If American novelists of this century can be divided into opposing camps of social historians and literary artists, Lewis clearly belongs to the former group. As a result, he has seemed to fade further into the past as writer after writer has taken his place as an authoritative observer of the times. However, the characters he created and the human situations he has depicted have sometimes caused him to be compared to Dickens. He remains one of the great portrayers of American middle-class life in the 1920s.

Bibliographic information