Lewis, Sinclair. (1885 - 1951).
W o r k
< anticipated by M. Twain's Puddn’head Wilson and Hucklebbery Finn, E. L. Master’s Spoon River Anthology, and W. D. Howells’s novels
- for a decade attacked materialism, the greediness of American business, and the stifling effects of American provincialism
- the mediocrity, narrowness, and paralysis of the Midwestern small-town life
- the corruption of the American dream by materialism and denial of individualism, in the tradition of muckrakers (lived some time in U. Sinclair’s experimental commune)
- deconstructed some myths x but: also created some myths of his own (see Arrowsmith)
- introduced the word babbitt = a philistine
- the 1st American writer to receive the Nobel Prize for literature
- combined realism, satire, and romance in shifting and sometimes strained combinations
Main Street (1920):
- the female protagonist tries to enlighten the small town with ‘culture’ x but: fails
- the mediocre businessman tries to rebel against materialism x but: fails and adopts the mediocrity
- a young idealistic doctor devoted to his research tries to defend himself against people exploiting his contributions for profit
- contrasts idealism x materialism, satire x sympathy and pity with Arrowsmith
Elmer Gantry (1927)
"She was not a Respectable Married Woman but fully a human being".
From Main Street (1920).
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons).
Author(Harry) Sinclair Lewis. (1885 - 1951). American.
WorkNovelist. Nobel Prize Winner (1930). Author of Babbitt (1922).
GenresRomanticism. Realism. Satire.
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Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
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Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.
McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.
Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.
Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.