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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Main Street to High Street
Sinclair Lewis's 1922 novel extends themes explored in his previous novel, the epic Main Street. Moving away from small-town life to the apparently more sophisticated city life in the fictional city of Zenith, Lewis is however no less scathing in his satire of conservative American middle-class family values.

The principal character of the novel is an...
Published on 9 Dec. 2010 by Keris Nine

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Curdling of the American Dream
Babbitt is an easy book to read. The story runs in a clear groove and the messages are not laboured. In that respect it can make the book seem a little old fashioned, a little naïf. But remember it was written in the 1920's, when the sickness of soul brought on by unthinking capitalism was barely understood or popularised beyond the outrages of Victorian exploitation...
Published on 6 April 2013 by Chuck


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Main Street to High Street, 9 Dec. 2010
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Sinclair Lewis's 1922 novel extends themes explored in his previous novel, the epic Main Street. Moving away from small-town life to the apparently more sophisticated city life in the fictional city of Zenith, Lewis is however no less scathing in his satire of conservative American middle-class family values.

The principal character of the novel is an apparently harmless everyman, George F. Babbitt. He's the senior partner in a real-estate business, the model of middle-class respectability and a little dull with it, although he believes he is the best of men. He is dedicated to his work and his family, aware it is sometimes necessary to play a little bit rough in both fields to get on, but he does so in what he believes is an ethical manner, in line with the accepted moral standards of the American, Republican, capitalist ideal. He would no more trample over his competitors than he would even think about having an affair - or to be more accurate, he would certainly dream of it, but never have the guts to carry it out, as in would entail some self-determination, and George F. Babbitt doesn't get involved in, or even have an opinion about, anything that hasn't been discussed and approved by the fellows in the various clubs, associations and lodges that he is part of.

More than a little self-satisfied, George thinks he is a clever fellow, but he's deeply conservative, conventional and conformist, caught up in a consumerist society, with every ounce of originality and personality squeezed out of him, indulging in meaningless small-talk and not particularly ambitious other than in his aims to keep up a respectable front with the identikit neighbours in Floral Heights, buying into the trappings of middle-class respectability and acceptability. Even giving up smoking or keep fit is beyond his capabilities, although his attempts and failures at least give him a consistent topic for conversation. George and his friend Paul however are determined to strike out against this oppressive conformity imposed by the tyranny of married life and plan a fishing trip to Maine. On their own. Without their wives. Unthinkable. Well... at least heading out a week early before their families eventually join them. It does however set off a change in outlook for both men that has them questioning their lifestyle and values...

George F. Babbitt is a big-town version of Dr. Kennicott from Main Street, and Zenith is his Gopher Prairie, the be-all-and-end-all, the limits of his Vision, the boosting of the local economy his way of contributing to the American dream, and the observations of his lifestyle are treated with the same accuracy of satirical humour and incisive observation as in the earlier novel. If anything, the observations about character and deeper human nature are even more pertinent here, Lewis's description of what is considered a progressive society seeming to be almost warmly affectionate, but in reality being venomously critical, all the more so for not being so openly exaggerated. It's thoroughly authentic and devastatingly accurate in its portrayal of a certain class of American society, and, for all its humour, it's not one that can be dismissed lightly. Puffed-up with their own self-importance, it's the Babbitts - "Regular Guys" with twisted ideals, who do eventually become important, even dangerously so...

Babbitt consequently hasn't dated in the slightest. Some of the writing and the dialogue might appear to be of a bygone age, all "Say, by-golly, gee whillikins" spiel with some quite shocking casually racist pronouncements being made that would be completely unacceptable today, but the social context is much the same. The writing however is darned clever, the dialogue and use of language highly expressive of certain attitudes and behaviour that are just as accurate today, the novel tackling themes that are still utterly contemporary.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Potentially life-changing- be warned, 5 Oct. 2009
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Excuse the bias here, but I am going to base my review on my experience of reading this as a warning; If you are 16-21, maybe starting a career/going to uni/leaving uni buy this book. Read it. Then read it again. Then make sure you understand what it is saying about how to live your life, and that you appreciate the research that went into it. This excellent edition features a painting by the American artist Edward Hopper on the cover (or a detail at least). This is very fitting. Go and find out about him too, and then maybe, just maybe, you won't find yourself sitting in a grey cubicle-world watching the clock and your blood pressure, hoping you've hit enough targets to buy that car/holiday/partner you think you've always wanted. It thoroughly deserves all the accolades it won. Here endeth the lesson.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'His last despairing fling before the paralyzed contentment of middle-age', 27 Mar. 2014
By 
sally tarbox (aylesbury bucks uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
George F Babbit is a respectable 'pillar of the community' in the fictional city of Zenith. Married with kids, an increasingly successful realtor in a world of 'good little people, comfortable, industrious, credulous', a good social life...and yet beset by the realisation that:
'perhaps all life as he knew it and vigorously practised it was futile; that heaven as portrayed by the Rev Drew was neither probable nor very interesting; that he hadn't much pleasure out of making money; that it was of doubtful worth to rear children merely that they might rear children who would rear children. What was it all about? What did he want?' Whether Babbit finally breaks with his conservative and conventional life forms the story.

I really enjoyed Lewis' humorous touches, especially the characterization of his mundane domestic life:
' "An apple a day keeps the doctor away", he enlightened Mrs Babbit, for quite the first time in fourteen hours.'
Also his comic takes on advertising and religion (which he focussed on more fully in later work 'Elmer Gantry'.)
The realisation that this is all there is, is as relevant today as back in the 1920s, and this was an excellent read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Small town life, 19 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Babbitt (Dover Thrift Editions) (Kindle Edition)
A classic of life in small town USA. Sinclair Lewis brings out the shallowness of social values and has a laugh at the small mindedness of the characters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A look at American life, perhaps, 5 Feb. 2015
By 
Judith Joseph "genealogist/researcher" (Birmingham England UK) - See all my reviews
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A man's dilemma with his daily life... American... first read in the 1950s
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 17 Jan. 2015
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I read this book some years ago and bought this one for my friend.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Curdling of the American Dream, 6 April 2013
Babbitt is an easy book to read. The story runs in a clear groove and the messages are not laboured. In that respect it can make the book seem a little old fashioned, a little naïf. But remember it was written in the 1920's, when the sickness of soul brought on by unthinking capitalism was barely understood or popularised beyond the outrages of Victorian exploitation. There are books out there that make a much more satisfying job of covering the territory; Roth's American PastoralAmerican Pastoral, Halley's The Giftie The Giftie and Sloan's Man in the Grey Flannel Suit The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit come to mind here. But much of the charm of Babbitt lies in its being a period piece and a warning of what was being left unsaid.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 27 April 2015
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This review is from: Babbitt (Dover Thrift Editions) (Kindle Edition)
Bit heavy going
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 22 May 2015
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Great book.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 21 Feb. 2013
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bought this as price was very good compared to all others i had seen. arrived quickly, as described. highly recommended
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