Log in. Create login. Search Results. Approximate Thickness. Melting Temperature. Approximate Weight. Approximate Width. Prohibition, pre-Depression, the rise of the middle class with their faith and optimism in business such as Babbitt's refrain early in the book when he speaks of politics, "What we need is a sound business Administration!
Anyways, I digress--the fact that it's written and published when it's set is fascinating because the novel is such a clear and perceptive satire, with such a great deal of pointed commentary both directly said, and subtly implied that it would have been, in my opinion, a very daring literary feat at the time.
I read that Lewis traveled extensively while researching this book, visiting small American mid-western cities, studying their dialect, their politics, their children, their lives, their jobs, in order to craft this novel which in some ways is very reflective of the great satirists of Restoration England like Jonathan Swift, but at the same time incredibly Modernist. The only reason someone now might have for not reading Babbitt is in thinking that perhaps the setting, and thus satire, is a little dated.
Certainly, the slang and dialect is unfamiliar and seems rather silly, and is meant to I think by the author. But Lewis address ideas and tendencies of American middle class people that are still relevant, and I felt I recognized many tendencies of the America that Lewis knew that are still present, still at issue.
Also, for a satire, sometimes as a point of the allegorical nature of satire the characters are archetypes and stereotypes that remain static throughout the length of the work. In Babbitt, it's fascinating to see how this is what I imagine, now, only what I imagine Lewis seems to be so hard on Babbitt, on his way of life, his thoughts, tendencies, through his satire.
Babbitt is naive and bumbling, not at all very heroic, and often not very likeable to me. But over the course of the novel Lewis I think grows more fond of Babbitt, as Babbitt in his naive and bumbling way struggles to understand why he is so unhappy.
Instead of being a whipping boy and poster boy for the satirical nature of the novel, which he seems to be at first, he is more easily recognizable as a very important, and special, human being who is heroic in his on way I think of Babbitt the novel as an epic of middle-class proportions. Apr 29, Duffy Pratt rated it really liked it Shelves: classic. I rarely change my mind about a book based on the way it ends. With this book, I make an exception.
I went through various phases with this book. To start, it seemed like a fun satire of one of the most shallow characters imaginable. George Babbit is a real estate man, utterly conventional, and without a thought or opinion of his own. He defines himself by the products he buys. He doesn't know what to think about something unless he's read the opinion in the editorials conservative, of course. His chief concerns in life are fitting in and doing business, and that's about it.
No hobbies. A drab family life with a wife he has never loved. Then I started to bog down and rather dislike the book. It was clear that Lewis hated all of his characters. It also seemed clear that he considered himself far superior to any of these boorish mid-Westerners.
And he was pouring it on so hard. I couldn't see the point of it, or rather, I saw the point all too clearly, and I didn't get why he was going on and on.
Worse, I had a suspicion that Lewis did not understand these characters all that well, and that's why the satire was so broad. Of course, there were Babbit's little doubts about his life, but these seemed always to extinguish themselves, and seemed largely to show that Babbit was a hypocrite on top of everything else. Then, the book changed and I realized that Lewis was writing about mid-life crisis before anyone invented the term. George goes through a bunch of changes in search of his lost youth.
And at this point I thought the book was OK, and still had some fun moments. But here, his dissipation was altogether conventional. Instead of defining himself by one set, he started to define himself by another contrary set, and he was still acting as a conformist. But now he was conforming in a way that would lead to his self-destruction. I didn't know how Lewis would resolve it. I could see him destroying this character he seemed to hate from the start.
Or I could see him giving up his dissipation and going back to his totally shallow, greedy, conventional life. And then I found myself liking the resolution. Babbit returns to his conventionality, but it's entirely outward. Along his misadventures, he has grown a conscience and learned how to think for himself. In some ways, I think this story is very much like Pinnochio. Babbitt starts out as a puppet who yearns to be human, and even though he ends up in roughly the same position at the end as when he started, in the process he grows up and gets a soul.
Jan 19, Shaima Faisal rated it liked it. All we do is cut each other's throats and make the public pay for it. It follows the story of the Babbitt family, specially George F.
Babbitt, who lives in the city of Zenith, among a majority of middle-class Americans who aspire to live by certain standards that determine their social worthiness. Lewis tried through the character of George F. Babbitt to criticize the social life "Same with you. Babbitt to criticize the social life in America and the fake relationships.. At the beginning of the story, Babbitt was desperately trying to rise his social rank in Zenith though business relationships and joining clubs, but he gradually expressed his dissatisfaction about standardization, capitalism, and materialism "They don't understand the complications of merchandizing and profit, the way we business men do, but sometimes I think they're about like the rest of us, and no more hogs for wages than we are for profits.
I must say, the first pages were boring and slow for me but the pace became faster gradually afterwards. Harry Sinclair Lewis was an American novelist, who in , became the first writer from the United States to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters. Feb 09, Bob Newman rated it it was amazing Shelves: american-literature. They both had a tendency to draw cartoonish characters.
Babbitt is the main character of a satire by the same name; you might even laugh aloud in some places. Lewis is skillful, but at times, heavy-handed. He has portrayed an average Joe of , the pep- and vim-obsessed go-getting businessman who was the bedrock of our industrial age, hypocritical, materialist, crooked, conformist, even proto-fascist.
Babbitt is a real estate agent, a family man surrounded by the wealth of material goods provided by thriving industrial capitalism. He belongs enthusiastically and unquestioningly to any organization dedicated to preserving his and his family's ready access to those goodsprofessional group realtors association , Boosters, church, and set social circle. He spouts meaningless platitudes on every subject, knows nothing except the price of real estate and methods of collusion, and ignores his feelings, his family, and the rest of humanity, all the while believing that his city, state, and country are the best in the world.
The first odd pages of BABBITT are pure genius; one of the best character portraits you are likely to find in American literaturebut it is a caricature after all. Perhaps this is not entirely fair. George goes through a mid-life crisis, rebels against his static, materialistic life with its know-nothing attitudes, its moral certitudes, and its boring routines. His closest friend aren't there certain unspoken overtones of homosexual love? Certain consequences arise, Lewis brings in his ever-present fear of American fascist tendencies, and there's a rather hopeful ending, also in the American tradition even if not warranted.
If you already know other Lewis novels, don't miss this one. He certainly did deserve that Nobel Prize. Babbitt lives and works in the bustling but fictional midsize Midwestern burg of Zenith, Winnemac loosely based on real-life Cincinnati, Ohio in He's a middleman -- selling real estate for "more money than [his customers] could afford to pay.
Babbitt went to a State University and depends on his underpaid secretary to fix George F. Babbitt went to a State University and depends on his underpaid secretary to fix the spelling and grammatical errors in his sales letters. His circle of friends centers around his old State U cohort, his fellow World War One veterans, and other middle-aging Americans in Zenith's business community, those groups being nearly one and the same. Things follow the predictable if, at Sinclair Lewis' hands, satirical middling muddle until Babbitt's wife leaves town to care for a family member and all of a sudden things aren't so straight-and-narrow any more.
This classic of American literature, published in , may not be stylistically advanced Hemingway complained in a letter to a friend that Lewis wrote "shitily" , but it is full of insight about the relentless vim and vigor of Twenties American business culture and the plight of one unremarkable man who finds himself lonely in a crowd.
Sensationalistic news reporting, evangelists brought in by the business community ostensibly to 'sell' religion but really to quell labor dissent, even "church-growth campaigns," all get sent up here -- all this and more being still part of middle Americana. I cannot recommend this novel enough.
Classics Cleanup Challenge 4 Audio Apr 15, Lisa Kortebein rated it it was amazing Shelves: classics-american. Utterly satirical. If this is the kind of book you like, read this one.
Even if you don't, read this one. Often when you read stellar books, the end lets you down. Not this one. From the first page to the last, Lewis succeeds in relaying the story of everyday America.
Babbitt is an average upper middle to middle class businessman who suddenly realizes that he wants so much more. He was kind of waylaid into a marriage, away from career ambitions no, not by pregnacy, but by midweste Smart. He was kind of waylaid into a marriage, away from career ambitions no, not by pregnacy, but by midwestern niceness. In his struggles, whether it's from the nagging of his children or wife, the encounters with employees, his mistress or the other leaders of the busines community, Babbitt's is a struggle to maintain his sense of self against the pull of the populace.
He wants to be different, but he's not smart. He doesn't have an opinion of his own. He's only too happy to go with the flow even to the end of making money by scurrious means. He is happy in having his little rebellion with his friend Paul - a would-have-been artist but much to the less accomplishment than Babbitt himself is a roof tar salesperson. He enjoyed having a person lower than himself, as it were.
He wasn't what he wanted to be, but he was far better off than Paul. Still he finds real friendship in Paul, speaking like he can't to anyone else. Then, his world is shattered when Paul is arrested and jailed. This sends Babbitt careening down an unlikely path, a path that will lead him to a Bohemian crowd and mistress, losing his place in the business community and a certain stubborness that he will not be bullied.
In the end, he comes full circle, returning to that same life and attitude, yet not at all the same. In his message to his son, which ends the book, he gives him the caveat of not following his dream. Yes, this is Babbitt. The man without an opinion of his own, without any real intellect or desire except to have money telling his son to follow his dreams unlike he did.
This Babbitt is a hero. Lewis handles him not with kid gloves, but with backhanded compliments, soft rebukes and satire. Babbitt is compelling and real and as relevant to as he is to It's a definite must read. Jan 28, Jason Pettus rated it really liked it Shelves: character-heavy , classic , early-modernism.
Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally. The CCLaP In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label Essay Babbitt , by Sinclair Lewis The story in a nutshell: The follow-up to his surprise smash bestseller Main Street , Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt is basica Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.
The CCLaP In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label Essay Babbitt , by Sinclair Lewis The story in a nutshell: The follow-up to his surprise smash bestseller Main Street , Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt is basically a continuation of his searing indictment regarding the hypocrisies inherent in middle-class Midwestern society in the years between World War One and the Great Depression, known to us now as the "Roaring Twenties" and which conjures up images of flappers, illegal hooch and fur-coat-wearing undergraduates.
Ah, but in the second half, we watch as a series of events call into question for Babbitt the infallibility of these former bedrocks in his life, including his best friend having a mental breakdown and shooting his wife, as well as an affair Babbitt himself embarks upon with a left-leaning bohemian; so when Babbitt starts appearing in public with these menaces to society, needless to say that his fellow community leaders don't react well at all, essentially forming a McCarthyesque morals organization for the sole purpose of bullying Babbitt back into the fold, or else face a near-total boycott of the properties he's currently trying to sell.
Until then, Walt Disney had thought of his animation staff as family and felt personally betrayed by striking animators, particularly Babbitt. Disney fired Babbitt on May 27 , , which prompted animators to strike the following day.
Five weeks later, the strike was resolved with the assistance of the National Labor Relations Board , who found in the Guild's favor. Disney agreed to become a union shop, and has remained so ever since. Babbitt, by now an enemy of Walt, was rehired and fired several times.
Babbitt worked a final stint at Disney following his service as a Marine in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of World War II , but he was so unhappy with his life at Disney by now that he left shortly thereafter to join United Productions of America. Walt's nephew, Roy Edward Disney , contacted Babbitt in and the two ended the long-standing feud.
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