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Babbitt [Paperback]

by Sinclair Lewis
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 25, 2013 1619493039 978-1619493032
Lewis’ scathing satire of middle-class America, Babbitt explores the social pressures of conformity and materialism. It tells the story of George Babbitt, a middle-aged family man who becomes disillusioned with both conformity and his belated attempts at rebellion. Set in the fictional Midwestern town of Zenith, Babbitt offers a powerful critique of the American Dream and all it entails.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sinclair Lewis was an American playwright and novelist. Born in 1885, he received his bachelor's degree from Yale University in 1908 and published his first novel, Hike and the Aeroplane, in 1912. He published Babbitt, perhaps his most fanous work, in 1922 and in 1926 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Arrowsmith but rejected it. In 1930 he was the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in Rome, in 1951, and his last novel World So Wide was published posthumously.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Babbitt Press (August 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1619493039
  • ISBN-13: 978-1619493032
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this edition!! June 13, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Nothing against "Babbitt" itself, it's a very entertaining book, but this edition is awful. "Empire Books" has to be a fake - used by self-publishers. They've just pasted in the text. The page size is too wide, the layout is non-standard and difficult to read. The lines of text are too long and too close together. Tiny margins. If it was worth my time, I'd request a refund. This is a classic novel and must be available from many reputable publishers. Why does Amazon make it such a pain to find a real book?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely As Ever May 2, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I don't think there was anyone in the 1920s who would have believed that this book would be completely forgotten. By all accounts, it was destined to be a classic critical novel of the American experience. You can't read anything about the '20s and '30s that doesn't comment on Babbitt (sold 130,000 copies its first year, HL Mecken loved it, it won Lewis a Nobel Prize). Calling someone a "Babbitt" was considered an insult and the phrase became a constant topic of conversation in the media and literature.

Yet, here we are 80 years later, and you've probably never heard of the term or the book. Even English and history teachers pretend it doesn't exist. I don't know why, it's insightful and funny. Perhaps it's because the biting satire of American suburban middle class life cuts deeper now than it did then. We prefer the glamour of Fitzgerald's jazz age to the notion that "the American Dream" is more often pursued and achieved with painful earnestness by unaware buffoons than anyone else.

The book is a little tough to get into at first because of the '20s style newspaper-speak, but get through it--it's worth it. It doesn't matter if the book is old or out of style, at its core it's about the fight against conformity and a critique of what Thoreau called the "life of quiet desperation."

It's as timely as ever, as far I'm concerned.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Babbitt April 1, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
We read this book for my Classic Book Club. I didn't love it, but I did like it. The plot is minimal as it follows the life of a successful upper middle class man who becomes disillusioned with his life. Parts are plodding, much like the character of George Babbitt, who is smug, opinionated, and self-righteous. The satire, however, makes one think about the challenges of living authentically in any time period. Great book club choice!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Classic! January 31, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have loved this book ever since I was a boy. Don't know why exactly, I'm nothing like any of the characters in the story, yet I can identify with the way Sinclair Lewis painted the world of the 1920's and the average " man of business". Lewis had a unique ability to expose the average middle class psyche in ways that speak to everyone. A superb novel!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Price of Personal Freedom January 25, 2014
By Plume45
Format:Paperback
“The Price of Personal Rebellion”

Sinclair Lewis’ 1922 novel/expose features the shallowness and greed middle class American business—to the delight of European audiences already disenchanted with America’s rise to world greatness. The first 75-80 pages make for slow reading, as they chronicle 24 hours in the life of George F. Babbitt of Zenith--a fictitious, Eastern city. A professional realtor and natural born hustler, this budding orator bullies his subordinates, plays the good old boy with his pals at the Athletic Club, and is kindly tolerated by his wife, but not respected or obeyed by his two older children. The joys of his life are his ten-year-old daughter and his college buddy, Paul. A slave to cigars and alcohol, this would-be tycoon is haunted at night by a secret, recurring dream about a fairy girl/woman who adores him. Although cognizant of the allures of various women both in his office and the social world, he steers a stolidly moral course throughout his marriage.

Despite his questionable business practices and private lusts this protagonist proves not entirely unsympathetic; his problems, as well as his temptations, are demanding. His failures and moral stumbling do not endear readers to his literary cause, but make him less than despicable. Unsuccessful in his pathetic bids to climb socially, Babbitt (whom the author always refers to by his surname) gradually begins to break free of his marital cage—to the shock of his colleagues. He experiments with affairs, espouses radical social and political causes, and argues with the old boys who have long relied on him. He seems to revel in social, political and marital debauchery, which he views with pride as a man struggling to be himself at last.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Old Favorite Revisited June 23, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Probably not being read much these days, but Sinclair Lewis remains an excellent way to research and experience the times about which and during which he wrote. I'd forgotten how much I admired his style. And, of course, Babbit became a part of the language, at least for a while. Sad/funny and entertaining. A worthwhile visit to the small city of the US in the 20's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Satire and Social Critique June 1, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Sinclair Lewis provides a satirical look at society, success, and conformity in this biting 1922 novel. George Babbitt is a successful real estate salesman, one who revels in the views and prejudices of the more privledged in U.S. Society. Like so many of his contemporaries, Babbitt desires to climb the social ladder through booster functions while desiring also to win acceptance from the social higher-ups he desires to impress. In short, Babbitt believes fervently in success, consumerism, and the American Dream. Yet Babbitt suffers from doubts and insecurities, wandering briefly from the staid, acceptable Warren Harding conservatism to a brief flirtation with both personal rebellion and more liberal politics. In the end Babbitt returns to the safe, socially-correct style of his associates, family and neighbors. All takes place in the fictional mid-sized Midwestern city of Zenith, in an era of fast-expanding cities and suburbs plus rising consumerism.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) wrote biting social satire that remains as relevant today as at the height of his fame in the 1920's. Some say this book lacks a strong plot, but in a way that is a reflection of Babbitt and his desires. Readers should also enjoy other top Lewis novels such as MAIN STREET, ELMER GANTRY, etc.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I could not finish the book due to technical difficulties. My Kendal...
I have read the book years ago and wanted to read again. the rating was based on my previous read . I could not finish becausee of technical difficulties.
Published 1 month ago by Marvin Nicholson
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic novel
Had a problem downloading at first, but then it came through.
The book had a lot of boring patches, and of course, a lot of the language is outdated. Read more
Published 1 month ago by marie castrogiovanni
5.0 out of 5 stars 1920 Setting?
Some of the thoughts shared, discussions held in this novel sound like those of today -- I guess some things never change! Read more
Published 2 months ago by dae
4.0 out of 5 stars a very good book to read.
Classic book of character. Babbitt is a broad view of judgment, how
to not act when wealthy. A good character builder.
Published 4 months ago by Eddie Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book
This is one of the best books of the twentieth century. It should be read by all who seek status in their community.
Published 7 months ago by Joel R. Wise
4.0 out of 5 stars Babbitt
A well crafted story that reveals how little things have changed in the last 75+ years. The author has the knack of capturing the American ethos.
Published 12 months ago by R. M. Rytting
4.0 out of 5 stars Great writing overcomes lack of plot
Having never been required to read any Sinclair Lewis in school, missed out but always meant to read him. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Bill R.
5.0 out of 5 stars Babbitt
Again, another book I wanted to read. LOVE Sinclair Lewis' gift of description and a flair for words. Would encourage everyone to read it.
Published 14 months ago by Kiltie Jay
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