Babbitt (Dover Thrift Editions)
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Widely considered Sinclair Lewis's greatest novel, this satire of the American social landscape created a sensation upon its 1922 publication. Babbitt's name became an instant and enduring synonym for middle-class complacency, and the strictures of his existence revealed the emptiness of the mainstream vision of success. His story reflects the nature of a conformist society, in which the pressures of maintaining propriety can ultimately cause individuals to lose their place in the world.
Babbitt ranks among the important 20th-century works addressing the struggles of people caught in the machinery of modern life, and it remains ever-relevant as a cautionary tale against clinging to conventional values.
snarled, “That means you’re not going to join, George?” Something black and unfamiliar and ferocious spoke from Babbitt: “Now, you look here, Charley! I’m damned if I’m going to be bullied into joining anything, not even by you plutes!” “We’re not bullying anybody,” Dr. Dilling began, but Colonel Snow thrust him aside with, “Certainly we are! We don’t mind a little bullying, if it’s necessary. Babbitt, the G.C.L. has been talking about you a good deal. You’re supposed to be a sensible, clean,
evening, most people don’t take sufficient care of their diges—” “Shall we have the Gunches for our dinner, next week?” “Why sure; you bet.” “Now see here, George: I want you to put on your nice dinner-jacket that evening.” “Rats! The rest of ’em won’t want to dress.” “Of course they will. You remember when you didn’t dress for the Littlefields’ supper-party, and all the rest did, and how embarrassed you were.” “Embarrassed, hell! I wasn’t embarrassed. Everybody knows I can put on as
he saw that she had been weeping. She had been left out of a party given by Zilla. Somehow her head was on his shoulder and he was kissing away the tears—and she raised her head to say trustingly, “Now that we’re engaged, shall we be married soon or shall we wait?” Engaged? It was his first hint of it. His affection for this brown tender woman thing went cold and fearful, but he could not hurt her, could not abuse her trust. He mumbled something about waiting, and escaped. He walked for an hour,
into subdued awe. Suddenly, incredibly, they heard a knocking. They stared at Frink’s half-revealed hands and found them lying still. They wriggled, and pretended not to be impressed. Frink spoke with gravity: “Is some one there?” A thud. “Is one knock to be the sign for ‘yes’?” A thud. “And two for ‘no’?” A thud. “Now, ladies and gentlemen, shall we ask the guide to put us into communication with the spirit of some great one passed over?” Frink mumbled. Mrs. Orville Jones begged, “Oh, let’s
about that old-fashioned junk like Dante wrote about.” Frink demanded, “Hush, now! I’ll call him.... 0, Laughing Eyes, emerge forth into the, uh, the ultimates and bring hither the spirit of Dante, that we mortals may list to his words of wisdom.” “You forgot to give um the address: 1658 Brimstone Avenue, Fiery Heights, Hell,” Gunch chuckled, but the others felt that this was irreligious. And besides—“probably it was just Chum making the knocks, but still, if there did happen to be something to