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Babbitt (Bantam Classics) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0553214864 ISBN-10: 0553214861

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Classics (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553214861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553214864
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lewis's tale of middle-class frustration, stress and success in the 1920s is brought to life by the L.A. Theatre Works 1987 full cast production featuring more than 30 actors, including Ed Asner (as Babbitt), Judge Reinhold, Ted Danson, Richard Dreyfuss, Helen Hunt and John Lithgow. With a deep and raspy voice and with great projection, Asner delivers a believable and amusing performance that securely anchors the entire production. Whether bullying his family or spouting politics with his friends at the club, Asner keeps the consistency of the self-aggrandizing character solid throughout. Jazz music segues well between scenes, though without any additional production sound beyond voices, it can at times feel out of place. While the full cast proves enjoyable in their individual parts, many take turns narrating the exposition throughout the production. At times, this is executed well, but sometimes it feels as if the director is just trying to give everyone more voice time. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Library Journal

First published in 1922, Babbitt is an authentic modern American classic, a biting satire of middle-American values that retains much of its poignancy today. George F. Babbitt, Lewis's outwardly successful but inwardly unhappy real estate salesman, still seems real. His story makes engrossing reading and is ideal for audio listening. With Babbitt himself at the center of every scene, it is impossible for listeners plagued by frequent interruptions to lose track of the story line. Narrator Wolfram Kandinsky has a voice that many listeners may find grating; however, his reading here conveys an appropriate ironic tone that is especially apt when he reads Babbitt's own lines. Recommended for general fiction collections. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Sinclair Lewis was born in 1885 in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, and graduated from Yale University in 1908. His college career was interrupted by various part-time occupations, including a period working at the Helicon Home Colony, Upton Sinclair's socialist experiment in New Jersey. He worked for some years as a free lance editor and journalist, during which time he published several minor novels. But with the publication of Main Street (1920), which sold half a million copies, he achieved wide recognition. This was followed by the two novels considered by many to be his finest, Babbitt (1922) and Arrowsmith (1925), which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1926, but declined by Lewis. In 1930, following Elmer Gantry (1927) and Dodsworth (1929), Sinclair Lewis became the first American author to be awarded the Nobel Prize for distinction in world literature. This was the apogee of his literary career, and in the period from Ann Vickers (1933) to the posthumously published World So Wide (1951) Lewis wrote ten novels that reveal the progressive decline of his creative powers. From Main Street to Stockholm, a collection of his letters, was published in 1952, and The Man from Main Street, a collection of essays, in 1953. During his last years Sinclair Lewis wandered extensively in Europe, and after his death in Rome in 1951 his ashes were returned to his birthplace.

Customer Reviews

Ultimately, this book is about the power of conformity.
David E. Levine
The novel was written at an important time in American history - between World War I and the economic boom preceding the Great Depression.
Bill R. Moore
It is a great example of story structure and character development.
SG

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on August 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
Sinclair Lewis wrote a series of satires that exposed the hypocrisy of early 20th century America. “Babbitt” is a snapshot of the life of George F. Babbitt, a somewhat prosperous middle class businessman who lives in Zenith, Ohio. Zenith has a population of 300,000+, and has an active business community. This community has its own rituals and ironclad rules. These rules consist of being one of the gang, being a member of all the right clubs and organizations, and never deviating from the ideals of business and money. These rules cause enormous difficulties for Babbitt when he goes through a midlife crisis at the end of the book and begins spouting liberal ideas and associating with the “wrong” crowd.
This is my first encounter with Sinclair Lewis. I really don’t know why I chose to read “Babbitt” first, as I also have copies of “Main Street” and “Arrowsmith”. I think it was the unusual cover of the Penguin edition, which is a picture of a painting called “Booster” by Grant Wood. To me, that picture IS Babbitt, and I’ll always be able to see Babbitt in my head whenever I’m reminded of this book.There really isn’t a lot of symbolism here (and the symbolism that is here is pretty easy to decipher) and the prose is much closer to our present day writing and speech. This is brilliant satire, and you’ll laugh out loud at many of the situations Babbitt gets himself into. An especially hilarious incident occurs when one of the local millionaire businessmen finally accepts an invitation to dine with Babbitt. The evening goes badly because Babbitt is in a lower social class. Lewis then shows Babbitt going to a dinner at an old friends house who is in a lower class then him.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Bob Newman VINE VOICE on August 8, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sinclair Lewis and Thomas Hart Benton, the artist, were about the same age, they both focussed on the American Heartland, and as I read Lewis, I see that they both had something else in common. They both had a tendency to draw cartoonish characters. George F. 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 1920, 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 goods---professional 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 the world, all the while believing that his city, state, and country are the best in the world. The first 90-odd pages of BABBITT are pure genius; one of the best character portraits you are likely to find in American literature---but it is a caricature after all. Lewis' choice of names underlines his cartoonish glee in writing this brilliant novel---Vergil Gunch, Professor Pumphrey, Chet Laylock, Matt Penniman, Muriel Frink, Opal Mudge, Carrie Nork, and Miss McGoun---names that could have been annexed years later by MAD magazine ! "Babbitt" has long been a word in American English, signifying a conforming materialist citizen without a mind of his own.Read more ›
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Henry G. Obermayer on July 27, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sinclair Lewis has to be one of the "great" writers of all time. In Babbitt he describes an era using fictional characters to represent the times in which many changes were taking place in the social environment of our country. America was coming out of the rural age and into the age of technical development, and characters reflected the effects of these changes in Lewis' novel. Great reading, and an opportunity to reflect on an important stage in America's development.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Allen Smalling TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
George F. Babbitt is middle-aged and middle-class. He lives in a medium-sized home in a medium-sized city in the Middle West. He's a middleman--he sells real estate. He went to a state university and depends on his secretary to fix the spelling and grammar in his letters. His children fight over who gets to use the car. His life is pretty straight and narrow, until he begins an affair when his wife is out of town and all of a sudden things aren't so middle-of-the-road anymore.
Sound like anyone you know? But "Babbitt" was published--almost unbelievably--in 1922. Funny how little some things have changed. Lewis's satire on suburban life and its conformities was an instant hit. Even today, we know what a Babbitt is--a guy who's all show and no go--whose lifestyle and opinions have been furnished for him but maybe whose soul is a little out of whack. It's a pity that schools usually assign the much slower-paced "Main Street". Read "Main Street" to see what life used to be like. Read "Babbitt" to see how we got to where we are today.
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