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Babbitt (Signet Classics) by Sinclair Lewis
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Babbitt (Signet Classics) (original 1922; edition 2007)

by Sinclair Lewis (Author), Sally E. Parry (Introduction)

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4,428811,929 (3.72)296
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.… (more)
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Title:Babbitt (Signet Classics)
Authors:Sinclair Lewis (Author)
Other authors:Sally E. Parry (Introduction)
Info:Signet (2007), 416 pages
Collections:Your library
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Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis (1922)

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» See also 296 mentions

English (74)  Catalan (2)  Portuguese (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (80)
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
Go into a bookstore these days and often the only book you’ll find by Sinclair Lewis is It Can’t Happen Here, a satirical look at the rise of a fascist regime in America in the 1930s. Lewis’ book enjoys a resurgence every few years as American politics grows polarised, and never more so than following the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

Within weeks of Trump’s inauguration, the main shop window of one of London’s largest bookstores was filled with copies of It Can’t Happen Here. And that’s a pity, because Lewis’ forgotten earlier books, and in particular Babbitt, may offer a greater insight into the Trump era. Babbit and Lewis’ previous work, Main Street, are the reasons he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first American author to receive the honour.

George F. Babbitt is a real estate dealer in the fictional mid-western city of Zenith. His life revolves around his business, his family and his network of friends who he meets through his church and the various clubs he joins — the Elks, the Boosters, and so on. Babbitt sees the world through the eyes of a businessman; if he were to write an autobiography, he might well have entitled it The Art of the Deal. He is not intellectually curious, has no interest in foreign travel, is convinced that his country (and state, and city) are the very best in the whole world. He detests immigrants and labor unions. Does any of this sound familiar?

Babbitt is deeply opinionated and develops a reputation as an orator of sorts, though he has nothing particularly interesting or original to say. In the world of business, and later at home, he lies and cheats with impunity and without remorse.

Babbitt is a particular “American type” and this book, even more than It Can’t Happen Here, offers insights into today’s American president. ( )
1 vote ericlee | Sep 15, 2020 |
Written 95 years ago, still timely. ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Aug 1, 2020 |
Excellent writing and witty mocking of the "good ole boy" network. ( )
  viviennestrauss | Apr 3, 2020 |
A big DNF for me! I stuck with it for 105 pages of 464, but it was so dry and boring that I'm not going to waste any more time with this book. It is a satire on 1920's American life and the main character is such an egoist and narcissist that there just isn't anything to draw me to the book. ( )
  Tess_W | Aug 25, 2019 |
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 |
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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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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.

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