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Lewis, Sinclair. (1885 - 1951).

W o r k

- 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

Babbitt (1922):

- the mediocre businessman tries to rebel against materialism x but: fails and adopts the mediocrity

Arrowsmith (1925)

- 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)

Dodsworth (1929)


"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.
  • Work

    Novelist. Nobel Prize Winner (1930). Author of Babbitt (1922).
  • Genres

    Romanticism. Realism. Satire.


Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American  Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.

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.


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