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Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

Babbitt (1922)

by Sinclair Lewis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
This book is everything I dislike about literary fiction, and yet it's so darn well written I'm giving it four stars, even though I never would have finished the thing if it wasn't for research purposes. Lewis can WRITE. There's a reason he's remembered as one of the great writers of the 20th century.

Here's the thing about Babbit. He's a horrible person, but he's like people all of us know. The book really centers around a catastrophic mid-life crisis. Babbit is sanctimonious, loud-mouthed, a sexual harrasser, desperate to climb the social ladder. He's largely spineless--he follows whatever crowd holds sway over him. Most of all, we are never intended to like him, but we relate to him in small ways all the same. It was only by the power of Lewis's writing that I stuck with the book, because this really hit on so many tropes that I loathe, especially when it comes to spousal abuse (though Babbit's sin in this regard is mostly in supporting his best friend's abuse/near-murder of his wife) and Babbit's extramarital affair. I mean, I HATED this guy, but I kept reading, and on the last page I genuinely pitied him. This book is an exercise is incredible character development.

One of the reasons I braved this book was due to the social impact it had in the 1920s. In several books from that period, I have come across mentions of people being considered "like Babbit." The book was a bestseller, and since we all know people like Babbit, it's no wonder the name entered popular culture. ( )
  ladycato | Jul 19, 2018 |
Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis is a satirical novel about American culture and society that explores the dullness of middle class American life as well as the social pressures there are toward conformity. Written and set in the early 1920’s, many of Lewis’ observations are still valid today. The novel is set in the fictional Midwestern town of Zenith where George F Babbitt, a 46 year old prosperous real estate broker is on the verge of a mid-life crisis.

Babbitt ‘s family consists of his devoted wife, Myra, and his three children, Verona, Ted and Tinka. The social status of the Babbitt family is important to George and they constantly are on the lookout to improve their status in the community. Yet, there is a bit of a rebel inside George and when his best friend ends up going to prison and his wife goes away to nurse her sister, George mounts his own small rebellion, but eventually realizes that it is too late for him to change and retreats back into the security of conformity. He does however, encourage his son, to explore his possibilities and not just settle into life.

I thought Babbitt was a very interesting read. Instead of the glamour and glitz of the 1920’s, this book gives us a glimpse of middle class American life in ways that are both insightful and humorous. The middle class became a recognizable force during this decade and this book helps us to understand it’s place and importance in society. My opinion of George Babbitt went through a number of changes during the course of the story for which I credit the author for developing such a well rounded character. And although the slang and much of the dialogue was dated to it’s time, in many ways this was a timeless story. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Jun 5, 2018 |
Just couldn't get into this and didn't feel inclined to try particularly hard to endure. Language distant from me and dull story. ( )
  lydiasbooks | Jan 17, 2018 |
Stripped to its core, the storyline of Babbit is rather simple. The book is just about Babbit himself, his mundane life and how he meanders along, including engaging in an affair. He looks down on his wife but when she suddenly fell very sick, he realizes that he cannot lose her. It was rather touching at this point, that a man as coarse and vulgar as Babbit could have such deep feelings. Same too with his son, when they reconciled at the end of the story as he allowed him to forego college and pursue his dreams. ( )
  siok | Sep 22, 2017 |
Satiric yarn about how the good ol' boy network self-perpetuates. Chuckled through out, but laughed out loud once, when reading that Mrs. Babbitt spent 17 days in the hospital after an appendectomy. ( )
  encephalical | Jun 6, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sinclair Lewisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dospevska, NeliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krauss, KennethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robles Pazos, JoséTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Edith Wharton.
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The towers of Zenith aspired above the morning mist; austere towers of steel and cement and limestone, sturdy as cliffs and delicate as silver rods.
When Sinclair Lewis published Main Street in 1920, he was the author of four inconsequential novels that had appeared over the preceding six years. (Introduction)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553214861, Mass Market Paperback)

When Babbitt was first published in 1922, fans gleefully hailed its scathing portrait of a crass, materialistic nation; critics denounced it as an unfair skewering of the American businessman. Sparking heated literary debate, Babbitt became a controversial classic, securing Sinclair Lewis’s place as one of America’s preeminent social commentators.

Businessman George F. Babbitt loves the latest appliances, brand names, and the Republican Party. In fact, he loves being a solid citizen even more than he loves his wife. But Babbitt comes to resent the middle-class trappings he has worked so hard to acquire. Realizing that his life is devoid of meaning, he grows determined to transcend his trivial existence and search for greater purpose. Raising thought-provoking questions while yielding hilarious consequences, and just as relevant today as ever, Babbitt’s quest for meaning forces us to confront the Babbitt in ourselves—and ponder what it truly means to be an American.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:59 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Prosperous and socially prominent, George Babbitt appears to have everything a man could wish. But when a personal crisis forces the middle-aged real estate agent to reexamine his life, Babbitt mounts a rebellion that jeopardizes everything he values. Widely considered Sinclair Lewis' 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 his story remains an ever-relevant tale of an individual caught in the machinery of modern life.… (more)

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