Babbitt (Dover Thrift Editions)
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Widely considered Sinclair Lewis's 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 the strictures of his existence revealed the emptiness of the mainstream vision of success. His story reflects the nature of a conformist society, in which the pressures of maintaining propriety can ultimately cause individuals to lose their place in the world.
Babbitt ranks among the important 20th-century works addressing the struggles of people caught in the machinery of modern life, and it remains ever-relevant as a cautionary tale against clinging to conventional values.
for heaven’s sake just warn me before you go to war, will you?” III Vast is the power of cities to reclaim the wanderer. More than mountains or the shore-devouring sea, a city retains its character, imperturbable, cynical, holding behind apparent changes its essential purpose. Though Babbitt had deserted his family and dwelt with Joe Paradise in the wilderness, though he had become a liberal, though he had been quite sure, on the night before he reached Zenith, that neither he nor the city
in blue denim shirts, old men with caps. Through them, keeping them stirred like a boiling pot, moved the militiamen. Babbitt could hear the soldiers’ monotonous orders: “Keep moving—move on, ’bo—keep your feet warm!” Babbitt admired their stolid good temper. The crowd shouted, “Tin soldiers,” and “Dirty dogs—servants of the capitalists!” but the militiamen grinned and answered only, “Sure, that’s right. Keep moving, Billy!” Babbitt thrilled over the citizen-soldiers, hated the scoundrels who
gushy woman reporter says about last night: Never is Society with the big, big S more flattered than when they are bidden to partake of good cheer at the distinguished and hospitable residence of Mr. and Mrs. Charles L. McKelvey as they were last night. Set in its spacious lawns and landscaping, one of the notable sights crowning Royal Ridge, but merry and homelike despite its mighty stone walls and its vast rooms famed for their decoration, their home was thrown open last night for a dance in
college together, he was just as hard up as any of us, and he’s made a million good bucks out of contracting and hasn’t been any dishonester or bought any more city councils than was necessary. And that’s a good house of his—though it ain’t any ‘mighty stone walls’ and it ain’t worth the ninety thousand it cost him. But when it comes to talking as though Charley McKelvey and all that booze-hoisting set of his are any blooming bunch of of, of Vanderbilts, why, it makes me tired!” Timidly from
light a match, it would in a month or two easily save ten minutes. As he drove on he glanced at it. “Pretty nice. Always wanted one,” he said wistfully. “The one thing a smoker needs, too.” Then he remembered that he had given up smoking. “Darn it!” he mourned. “Oh well, I suppose I’ll hit a cigar once in a while. And—Be a great convenience for other folks. Might make just the difference in getting chummy with some fellow that would put over a sale. And—Certainly looks nice there. Certainly is