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Babbitt Paperback – August 25, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Despite his questionable business practices and private lusts this protagonist proves not entirely unsympathetic; his problems, as well as his temptations, are real and demanding. His failures and moral stumbling do not endear readers to his cause, but serve to 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, neighbors and family. He experiments with affairs, espouses radical social and political crusades, and argues with the old boys who have long relied on him. No longer ssatisfied with his fantasy visions, he revels in social, political and marital debauchery, viewing
himself with pride as a man struggling to be himself at last.Read more ›
Babbitt is successful in a way most Americans would envy yet plagued by uncertainty. He has gone about life unthinkingly for years but is suddenly haunted by dissatisfaction and a dreadful feeling of hollowness. He exposes American society as not only superficial but largely artificial, dominated by crass, anti-intellectual commercialism and unthinking conservatism.
Babbitt also searchingly dramatizes a range of other related and important issues, including masculinity, femininity and feminism), religion (the focus of Lewis' later Elmer Gantry), race, and class. It is often satirical but sometimes thought-provoking and sometimes tragic. Lewis is typically called a satirist, but this sells him rather short; his range is significantly wider, but even more important is his strong artistic skill. The episodic plotting that many criticize him for is mostly gone; Babbitt initially seems episodic, but a closer look reveals a very deliberate progression.Read more ›
This look into suburbia and middle-class American values looks at a business man living in the 1920s, but echoes at so many points with our culture today. Lewis has an eye for detail and is great at painting a picture. His subversive take on the shortcomings of the American Dream make this a fascinating read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A brilliant observation of the life of a middle-aged "go-getter" and his quest to find himself amidst the noise of people telling him what to do.Published 13 days ago by Paul
This is an important, groundbreaking book for what it said about middle-class, "respectable" American society, at a time when the its values were not usually questioned... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Le Mec
Sinclair Lewis developed the character of George Babbitt so well that I did not want to quit him.Published 1 month ago by Scotty Brown
Although I read most of Sinclair Lewis works long ago in college, I somehow skipped this one. Perhaps it's just as well, as I could better appreciate a satire on middle class and... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kara Neal
I need to find out if it's normal for your hands to be black when you touch the product that I was sent? Please could you contact me ASAP!Published 3 months ago by c.brown
An engaging portrayal of a conformist realtor in Prohibition era USA.Published 5 months ago by Paul Phibbs