Not especially known for its prose style, Sinclair Lewis's art is often based on accumulation; he adds detail to detail until a larger picture sharpens. This classic novel portrays middle-aged George Babbitt and his irreconcilable urges to conform to social standards and to satisfy his deeper inner restlessness. Lewis delineates and satirizes Babbitt's bourgeois nature with small and large data, such as his booster button, his slang ("tux" for "dinner jacket" ), his jingoism, his hypochondria, his naive politics, his worries about his clothes. Such a style makes George Guidall's measured narration a bit inappropriate - Guidall's deliberate approach sometimes lingers needlessly over individual sentences that do not repay such scrutiny. The conversational scenes come off as more lively.
With his breathtaking social insight and his graceful sentences, Sinclair Lewis—a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winner—stands out as one of the most important American writers of the 20th century. At turns lyrically soul-searching and scathing in its honesty, Babbitt captures the essence of the 1920s while remaining a timeless piece of literature. Babbitt, the ultimate conformist and social climber, seeks power in his community and self-esteem from others. Outwardly, he is the ultimate “big booster,” and he toes the company line with “zip and zowie.” In his dreams, however, he is tormented by the emptiness of his soul.
Public Domain (P)1998 Recorded Books, LLC
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