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Elmer Gantry

Elmer Gantry [Kindle Edition]

Sinclair Lewis
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Elmer Gantry is one of the Sinclair Lewis’s most famous novels. Bringing some notoriety in its day it is a vicious satire of preachers and those they fool. Gantry has no redeeming features but is seen by the gullible public as a man who speaks the truth about God. Of course he could just as easily have been a lawyer or a politician and the heart of Lewis’s satire is how easily people believe what they want to believe.
Perhaps nowadays it is better known for the film of the same name which starred Burt Lancaster and won three Academy Awards. However the book is much more biting than the film and provides a fascinating picture both of the man and the times he would have lived in.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 694 KB
  • Print Length: 484 pages
  • Publisher: Penny Books (13 Jun 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003V8BTUI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #25,502 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Irresistible rise of a hot-gospel preacher 13 Jan 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The story begins in the rural Mid-West at the start of the 20th century. Elmer Gantry has been destined from birth, by the choice of his devout widowed mother, for the ministry, and is about to enter a Baptist seminary.

At a few points in the story Gantry is, momentarily and inexplicably, seized by genuine religious fervour, and even remorse for his misdeeds, but the rest of the time he is obsessed with using a religious career to gain money, fame and power, while he has a bit on the side - well several bits, actually. He is a bully, both physically and psychologically, and cleverly calculating when not ruled by his hormones. However, he is empty culturally as well as morally - as a listener to Gantry's radio programme observes, he "was blown out of a saxophone", i.e. he ends up as just another ephemeral feature of the Jazz Age. He often deceives even himself, rewriting his memory of an incident to portray his actions in a much better light than they deserve.

There are several characters in the novel with varying degrees and types of integrity, but the pessimistic message is that only the strong survive, whether bad or good. Repeatedly Lewis suggests that it is better to be an honest atheist than a hypocritical Christian.

One of the strengths of the book is the analysis of how Gantry's relationship with each of the major characters relates to his career, and how it affects each of them - in many cases, disastrously for them. Gantry is, essentially, a friendless user, and there are only two men with whom he ever feels real kinship; they are every bit as cynical as him, though they have somewhat more respect for mankind.

The love of his life, his infatuation with fellow-evangelist Sharon Falconer, is really a story within the story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A satire on religious hypocrisy 3 May 2010
By Sarah A. Brown VINE VOICE
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Elmer Gantry can be seen as a study in hypocrisy. But what, for me, made it interesting was the way Lewis added real complexity and subtlety to the character of Elmer. Most of the time I found his double standards, cruelty, philistinism and intolerance completely deplorable. But he does feel some genuine enthusiasm for his `calling', and he does sometimes seem to try to do the right thing, admittedly not to any very great effect. I loved one chapter describing his journey to his new parish. It begins with him selflessly and heroically, as he thinks, helping a woman carry her bags off the train, goes on to chart his feelings of irritation as his welcome turns out to be less respectful and delighted than he had hoped, and ends with him experiencing a twinge of lust for his landlady's fourteen year old daughter.

Elmer succeeds in deluding himself that he is a true servant of God, at least some of the time. Oddly that makes him less of a hypocrite than some of the novel's most attractive characters who profess Christianity but are secretly atheist or agnostic. But their behaviour is consistently far more `Christian' than that of Elmer, who uses the most ruthless means to achieve his ends. The satire of the evangelical movement is effectively biting, particularly the portrait of the preacher Sharon Falconer. She is another strange character, more than a match for Elmer, a shrewd businesswoman, whose precise attitude towards the message she preaches remains curiously difficult to fathom.

The loosely episodic structure of the novel made it just a little rambling and repetitive at times - it's not quite such an artistic success as `Babbitt'. But it offers a fascinating depiction of early c.20 America - and much of Lewis's satire still has relevance today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 82 year old avid reader 31 Jan 2013
By Doreen
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Really good read. Something to get your teeth into if you have any. Well written too. Couldn't put it down
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By sally tarbox TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Elmer Gantry is an intensely unspiritual young man at college in the 1920s. Not particularly academic, he is a strapping 'football gladiator' who goes in for fighting, drinking and girls. His only friend is a passionate atheist.
How Gantry comes to get sucked into theology school, and his failures and successes thereafter make for a highly readable work, that make one look at organised religion in a dubious manner. Elmer's attitude to the whole thing is well illustrated when he gets his first appointment:
'He'd show 'em!...Show 'em how he could build up church membership, build up the collections, get 'em all going with his eloquence - and of course, carry the message of salvation into darkened hearts. It would be mighty handy to have the extra ten a week - and maybe more if he could kid the Schoenheim deacons properly. His first church...his own...and Frank had to take his orders!'
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5.0 out of 5 stars An old book about fundamental evangelists. 10 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Sinclair Lewis (God rest his soul) certainly knew his topic. He gives an inside story of the way tent meetings were organised in the mid-west of America in the early part of the last century. Elmer Gantry is a conniving, hipocrite much like many of the fundamental evangelists who are still doing the rounds today. There was a film by the same name starring Bert Lancaster and Jean Symonds but this only went as far as the death of Sharon Falconer, played by Symonds. The book proceeds with Elmer seeking even more fame and fortune and he never gets his "come-uppance". Like many Politicians he is a firm believer in "redemption" and so gets away with it.
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He had, in fact, got everything from the church and Sunday School, except, perhaps, any longing whatever for decency and kindness and reason. &quote;
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Elmer assumed that he was the center of the universe and that the rest of the system was valuable only as it afforded him help and pleasure. &quote;
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He was born to be a senator. He never said anything important, and he always said it sonorously. &quote;
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