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Babbitt (Bantam Classics) by Sinclair Lewis
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Babbitt (Bantam Classics) (original 1922; edition 1998)

by Sinclair Lewis

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3,160621,771 (3.71)142
Member:rosinski
Title:Babbitt (Bantam Classics)
Authors:Sinclair Lewis
Info:Bantam Classics (1998), Edition: First Thus, Mass Market Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Read, Your library
Rating:***1/2
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Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis (1922)

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Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
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 the quality of the presentation is hit or miss. After sampling about a dozen more well-known offerings, I was left to select those with which I was less familiar. That is how I came across Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis.

George Babbitt is a middle aged real estate broker, living in the fictional city of Zenith, somewhere in the Midwest in the year 1920. George is upper middle class, conservative, a pillar of the community, if just a notch below the upper crust. He belongs to a variety of service organizations and men’s clubs. He has a wife of 25 years and three children at home.

The first three quarters of the book is taken up with explaining just how “normal” and “routine” George’s life actually is. Were it not for the insight into 1920s everyday life, it would be hopelessly boring. As it is, it is only bearable. It is only near the end of the story that George begins to wander from the straight and narrow, undergoing a mid-life crisis of sorts. The consequences of George’s “walk on the wild side” are moderately entertaining. ( )
  santhony | Aug 20, 2014 |
Lewis nos apresenta com mestria a sociedade do americano médio através de Babbitt, que é um pequeno negociante da década de 20. Ele é a figura real do burguês-padrão: seus pensamentos são ingênuos e conservadores, suas análises sobre os mais diversos assuntos são superficiais, seus desejos estão sempre a favor de sua vaidade e suas atitudes comerciais tem o objetivo altruísta de promover o progresso de sua cidade.

Envolto por tanta mediocridade, o personagem resolve dar um basta na vida acomodada que leva e partir para grandes aventuras, em busca de ideais mais nobres onde a felicidade certamente estará ao seu alcance. Sua batalha será dura, contra uma sociedade mesquinha e de mente curta. Terá que lutar contra sua família e principalmente contra a sua própria essência burguesa. Será que Babbitt vai realmente largar sua vida confortável e falsa? Ele terá força de vontade suficiente? Ele está preparado para a liberdade? Ou tudo não passa de caprichos de um homem infantilizado pelo meio? ( )
  Binderman | Aug 16, 2014 |
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 kind of way. I knew I had some sort of meaningful story ahead of me (it's a classic, after all), and having read the first chapter I really looked forward to reading a timeless story delivered in an entertaining manner. Unfortunately a lot of the humour dabbed off rather quickly, leaving "only" a good story.

And there can be no doubt, the story is inarguably very good. It's about a man, Mr. Babbit, who is relatively rich, and has a relatively high standing in society. Most of his life consists of hustling to become richer and achieve an even higher standing. The motivation behind him living this way isn't entirely clear: is he doing what he wants to do, or is he just doing what society expects of him? How badly does he want society to approve of him? Even if it does lead to esteem, money, power, and positions, does that make it worth living your life after a template, following the path everyone expects you to follow? Do you have a choice?
Thoughts like these had never really occurred to Mr. Babbit until a few events leads to him down a path where he has to face up to a few of these questions.

For me the book is at its best when we see Babbit struggling with these questions, and the ways in which he confronts them feels believable. The story also feels like it ended up where the characters made it end up, rather than being a pre-determined chain of events in which the characters were just… well, characters.

Having said all of the above, there is quite a bit of fluff around everything. The fluff wasn't all that interesting to me, and there also seemed to be a "the role of the man in society"-thread that, while I could appreciate, I couldn't really relate to. Some of the fluff is rather good satire, and most of it serves a purpose. Still, there is a little too much of it, and unfortunately the story does drag along at times.
It's still an interesting book, and it is easy to see why it is significant. As always, it is also fun to see how some things never change ("the youth today" were as hopeless in 1922 as they are now), and while Babbit is not a page-turner, nor especially exciting, it's worth the time spent reading it. ( )
  clq | Jul 29, 2014 |
Strangely enjoyable. The main character, George Babbitt, isn't particularly likable -- but then, neither are the people he does business with. The story starts with his pompous viewing of his self-worth, dives into a mid-life crisis which includes completely switching world and political views, back up to a doting husband, and ultimately ends with his deciding his son should live the life he always wanted to but never was brave enough to.

I can't quite say why this was so easy to read. Perhaps the characters were well drawn, or maybe it was fun watching Babbitt stumble over his own bombacity. I did like, it though, although I'm sure there was a ton of symbolism my English Lit teacher would shout at me for not catching.


Lori Anderson

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  limamikealpha | Jun 5, 2014 |
Change the technology and take away prohibition and this story could've been written last week. Hard to believe it was written in 1922. I thought this went so far but wasn't willing to go too far, but then again it was written in the twenties. Lot of proto-types for Babbitt on TV. ( )
  charlie68 | Jan 17, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sinclair Lewisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary 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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:39 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Tale of a coniving, prosperous real estate man who becomes totally corrupt.

(summary from another edition)

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