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Elmer Gantry Mass Market Paperback – December 4, 2007


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics (December 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780451530752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451530752
  • ASIN: 0451530756
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1.4 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Novel by Sinclair Lewis, a satiric indictment of fundamentalist religion that caused an uproar upon its publication in 1927. The title character of Elmer Gantry starts out as a greedy, shallow, philandering Baptist minister, turns to evangelism, and eventually becomes the leader of a large Methodist congregation. Throughout the novel Gantry encounters fellow religious hypocrites, including Mrs. Evans Riddle, Judson Roberts, and Sharon Falconer, with whom he becomes romantically involved. Although he is often exposed as a fraud, Gantry is never fully discredited. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.

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

Modern readers will easily comprehend the times in which the story takes place.
Jeri Massi
Lewis is the rare author who can write long expositions but make them fit the story, seeming to arise naturally rather than overwhelming it.
Bill R. Moore
Elmer Gantry was written in the 1920s, yet it is a a fantastic modern portrayal of how religion is fleecing the flock today.
william bradford

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Stefan Jones on September 24, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Elmer Gantry begins this novel as a boozing, womanizing, college football player. Despite having a great speaking voice and dominating personality he has no interest in persuing a career as a minister. Peer pressure leads him to try, and he soon finds himself attending divinity school and headed to life as a man of the cloth.
Elmer's character can be summed up by once incident. After getting a doubt-ridden professor fired, someone leaves 30 dimes wrapped in a religious tract in Elmer's dorm room. He delightedly mines the tract for sermon ideas, and uses the 30 dimes to buy naughty postcards.
Besides following the rise, fall, and rise of hard working, talented, and utterly unprincipled Elmer, Sinclair Lewis's novel shows us the state of evangelical religion in the first decades of the 20th Century. We see back-country Baptist churches, traveling revival shows, "New Age" cults, and middle-of-the road Methodist congregations at work.
It's funny, and hair-raising, stuff. There's also a nice twist ending that puts it in the category of an Awful Warning novel.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Giordano Bruno on January 30, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When Elmer Gantry was published, author Sinclair Lewis received death threats, an ivitation to be lynched in Virginia, a warning to stay clear of New Hampshire or wind up in a prison cell. I wonder if he would still have the courage to write a similar book today, in the climate of religious fanaticism that prevails. Elmer Gantry is a portrayal of hypocrisy and opportunism among the Evangelical clergy of the early 20th Century. The title character is as hateful and fraudulent as the Bakkers, Swaggerts, and Blackguards of our era, with the same vices, most prominently sexual misbehavior and exploitation. In fact, Gantry is so thoroughly unappealing that the reader's only interest in him is waiting and hoping for his downfall. But the numerous other clergymen, deacons, and congregational leaders portrayed in the novel are none of them very appealing; they are all greedy hypocrites, timorous holders of sinecures, and/or weaklings unable to confront their own doubts about the sanctity of the clerical profession. I have to say that Sinclair Lewis seriously weakens his case by overstating the universality of corruption in the Christian leadership, and damages the literary interest of his book by making his principal character irredeemable. Yet as I survey the current fundamentalist eruption into politics, I also have to say that Lewis was remarkably prophetic. The anti-evolution, anti-science-in-general, anti-diversity rants that fill the pages of Elmer Gantry could be copied-and-pasted right here on our favorite web pages.

The chief woman character of the book, tent evangelist Sharon Falconer, is also portrayed as a power-hungry opportunist, half hypocrite and half delusional madwoman.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Bob Newman VINE VOICE on November 21, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A lot of Sinclair Lewis can be read as social history in our days at the turn of the 21st century. Social mores and the whole tenor of society have changed dramatically since the days of his major works. But ELMER GANTRY still reads like a story of our times. Though it covers a period roughly stretching from 1902 to 1926, and America has been transformed since then, the basic idea of the novel---how a man, selfish, ignorant, bullying, and posing as a 'regular guy', can fool most of the people most of the time---is still very much relevant to us. Business was the heart of America in Lewis' day, and it still is. But a career model drawn from that sphere could be used in many other walks of life. ELMER GANTRY is about a man who uses religion and a Protestant church to rise socially, to get and abuse power for his own ends. From Elmer's evangelical college days with his drinking, womanizing, total lack of ability or interest in studies, and his lying and maneuvering to get what he wants, to the stunning but realistic conclusion to the book, Lewis paints a vibrant portrait of an unprincipled climber ; a man who will change any opinion, betray anybody, and do anything to get ahead. If we consider the sagas of TV evangelists in our days, the difference between their revealed hypocrisies and those written by Lewis is startlingly small. The sole difference was that in the 1920s, there was no television for Elmer Gantry to exploit.
Certain sections of the book read better than others--it is not of uniform quality---and sometimes you wonder why Lewis inserted a chapter here or there. I think particularly of the two chapters on the fate of Frank Shallard, Gantry's alter-ego.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 24, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Babbit, Sinclair Lewis turns business into a religion. Whereas, in Elmer Gantry, Lewis turns religion into a business. Elmer Gantry is a very real portrayal of a man who is ecstatic about his religion, but it is all an outward show for profit. We might be tempted to think that the corruption evident in modern televangelists is a new occurence. Lewis proves us wrong. Lewis shows the entire spectrum of christian belief in this novel from hypocrisy, to agnosticism, to an abiding spiritual life. Despite the fact that Lewis is one of my favorite authors and this is a superior novel, there was one disappointment. Near the end of the book, Gantry is confronted by the book's one genuine believer. There was a lot of emotional tension in the scene, and I felt Lewis just let it slip away. It was an unsatisfying resolution after the build up. Beyond that one moment, It's one of the best works of fiction I have ever read.
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