Sinclair Lewis

Easton Press Sinclair Lewis books

Main Street - The Collector's Library of Famous Editions - 1965
Babbitt - 1999

Franklin Library Sinclair Lewis books

Arrowsmith - Pulitzer Prize Classics - 1975
Main Street - 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature - 1978
Main Street - World's Best Loved Books - 1979
Stories by Sinclair Lewis - Collected Stories of the World's Greatest Writers - 1981

Author Sinclair Lewis

Sinclair Lewis, born Harry Sinclair Lewis on February 7, 1885, in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, was a trailblazing American novelist and playwright whose works captured the essence of American society in the early 20th century. He emerged as one of the most prominent literary figures of his time, renowned for his sharp wit, keen observation, and biting satire. Raised in the small town of Sauk Centre, Lewis's upbringing provided him with firsthand insights into the dynamics of American life, particularly in rural communities. After completing his education, he embarked on a career as a journalist, honing his skills as a keen observer of human nature and societal norms.

It was through his novels, however, that Lewis made his most enduring mark on literature. From 1907 to 1916 Sinclair Lewis was a newspaper reporter and an editor for a number of magazines and a publishing house. Lewis' earliest books, Our Mr Wrenn (1914) and The Trail of the Hawk (1915), were conventional and unoriginal; he first began to write with literary originality in his book The Job (1917), a realistic story of New York City. His breakthrough came with the publication of Main Street in 1920, a scathing critique of small-town America and its conformity, which catapulted him to literary fame. The novel's protagonist, Carol Kennicott, served as a vehicle for Lewis to explore themes of individuality, social reform, and the clash between tradition and progress. In Main Street, Sinclair Lewis first developed the theme which would characterize most of his later books; the dullness, monotony, emotional frustration, and lack of spiritual and intellectual values in various types of American middle class life, especially the life of the Midwestern small town.

Lewis continued to explore similar themes in subsequent works, including Babbitt (1922), a satirical portrayal of middle-class conformity and materialism, and Arrowsmith (1925), which delved into the ethical dilemmas of the medical profession. Babbit is a merciless satire of the middle class American businessman who conforms blindly to the materialistic social and ethical standards and practices of his environment; the term "babbit", identifying a businessman of this type, is now a part of the English language. In Arrowsmith (1925) Sinclair Lewis exposed the lack of scientific idealism sometimes seen in medical professions. Elmer Gantry (1927) was a violent attack on a type of hypocritical and mercenary religious leader; and The Men Who Knew Coolidge (1928) is another satire of an average businessman. In Dodsworth (1929) Sinclair Lewis satirized the egotistic, shallow, pretensions, and selfish married woman sometimes seen among the American upper middle class circles. In 1926, Lewis became the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, recognizing his skillful portrayal of American life and his contribution to the development of social commentary in literature. Others of his books are Ann Vickers (1933), which deals with a woman social reformer; Work of Art (1934), another story of a successful businessman; It Can't Happen Here (1935), a story about a future revolution leading to fascist control in the United States; The Prodigal Parents (1938); Bethel Merriday (1940), a novel of stage life; Cass Timberlane (1945); Kingblood Royal (1947), a novel about racial intolerance; and The God Seeker (1949). Sinclair Lewis was also a playwright; among his plays are Hobohemia (1919), a dramatization of Dodsworth (with Sidney Coe Howard, 1934), and Jayhawker (with Lloyd Lewis, 1934). From Main Street to Stockholm, a collection of his letters, was published posthumously in 1952.

Throughout his career, Lewis remained an astute critic of American society, often challenging prevailing attitudes and conventions. His works, characterized by their wit, insight, and social commentary, continue to resonate with readers today, offering timeless reflections on the complexities of the human experience. Despite his literary achievements, Lewis faced criticism and controversy, both for his writing style and his personal life. Yet, his legacy endures as a testament to his unwavering commitment to truth and his fearless exploration of the American psyche. Sinclair Lewis passed away on January 10, 1951, leaving behind a body of work that continues to captivate and provoke readers, cementing his status as one of the most influential writers in American literature.

Main Street

Main Street stands as a cornerstone of American literature, penned by the masterful hand of Sinclair Lewis. Published in 1920, this novel offers a penetrating examination of small-town life in America during the early 20th century. Through its vivid portrayal of the fictional town of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, Lewis skillfully explores the tensions between tradition and modernity, conformity and individuality, and the aspirations and limitations of middle-class existence.

At the heart of Main Street is the protagonist, Carol Milford, a young woman filled with dreams of cultural enlightenment and social reform. Carol's idealism clashes with the realities of life in Gopher Prairie, where she encounters resistance to change and entrenched conservatism. Through Carol's eyes, readers are exposed to the narrow-mindedness, provincialism, and stifling conformity that characterize small-town America. As Carol navigates the social landscape of Gopher Prairie, she grapples with her own desires for self-expression and fulfillment. Her attempts to introduce progressive ideas and cultural enrichment are met with skepticism and resistance from the townsfolk, who cling fiercely to their traditions and prejudices.

Through its incisive portrayal of Gopher Prairie and its inhabitants, Main Street offers a searing critique of American society, exposing the hypocrisies and limitations of small-town life. Lewis's sharp wit and keen observation illuminate the complexities of human nature and the dynamics of social change, making Main Street a timeless work of literature that continues to resonate with readers today. Despite facing initial skepticism from some critics, Main Street proved to be a critical and commercial success, catapulting Sinclair Lewis to literary fame and cementing his reputation as one of America's foremost authors. The novel's enduring popularity speaks to its enduring relevance and its ability to capture the essence of American life with honesty, humor, and insight.


Arrowsmith stands as a towering achievement in American literature, penned by the illustrious Sinclair Lewis. Published in 1925, this novel represents a significant departure from Lewis's earlier works, offering a compelling exploration of the ethical dilemmas and moral complexities inherent in the medical profession. Set against the backdrop of early 20th-century America, Arrowsmith follows the journey of its protagonist, Martin Arrowsmith, a young and idealistic medical student with a fervent dedication to the pursuit of scientific knowledge and medical advancement. As Martin navigates the challenges of medical school and embarks on his career as a physician, he grapples with questions of integrity, ambition, and the ethical responsibilities that accompany the practice of medicine.

Driven by a desire to make meaningful contributions to society and alleviate human suffering, Martin becomes embroiled in a series of professional and personal challenges. His unwavering commitment to scientific inquiry and medical research leads him to confront issues such as academic politics, commercial interests, and the ethical implications of experimental treatments. Through Martin's experiences, Sinclair Lewis offers a nuanced portrayal of the medical profession, shedding light on its triumphs and shortcomings, its noble aspirations and inherent flaws. The novel's richly drawn characters and vividly depicted settings serve as a backdrop for Lewis's incisive exploration of the complexities of human nature and the pursuit of knowledge.

Arrowsmith garnered widespread acclaim upon its publication, earning Sinclair Lewis the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1926. Its insightful portrayal of the medical profession and its enduring relevance to contemporary debates surrounding healthcare and scientific ethics have solidified its status as a classic work of American literature. As readers journey alongside Martin Arrowsmith through triumphs and tribulations, successes and setbacks, they are invited to contemplate timeless questions about the nature of medicine, the pursuit of truth, and the responsibilities that come with knowledge and power. In Arrowsmith, Sinclair Lewis offers a compelling meditation on the human condition and the enduring quest for meaning and purpose in a rapidly changing world.


Babbitt stands as a seminal work in American literature, crafted by the gifted pen of Sinclair Lewis. Published in 1922, this novel offers a piercing critique of middle-class life in 1920s America, delving deep into the psyche of its titular protagonist, George F. Babbitt, and the society in which he resides. Set in the fictional Midwestern city of Zenith, Babbitt follows the life of George Babbitt, a prosperous and outwardly successful real estate agent who epitomizes the values of conformity, materialism, and social respectability cherished by his peers. Yet, beneath the facade of his seemingly idyllic existence lies a profound sense of disillusionment and discontent.

As George navigates the complexities of his personal and professional life, he grapples with feelings of alienation and a growing sense of unease with the empty rituals and shallow values of bourgeois society. His attempts to break free from the constraints of conformity and reclaim a sense of individuality are met with resistance from those around him, who are invested in preserving the status quo. Through George Babbitt's experiences, Sinclair Lewis offers a scathing indictment of the rampant consumerism, conformity, and moral complacency that characterized American society in the 1920s. With his trademark wit and keen observation, Lewis exposes the hypocrisies and contradictions inherent in the pursuit of the American Dream, revealing the hollowness beneath the veneer of prosperity and success.

Babbitt received widespread acclaim upon its publication, earning Sinclair Lewis the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1923. Its searing portrayal of middle-class life struck a chord with readers, resonating with its unflinching honesty and incisive social commentary. As readers journey alongside George Babbitt through his struggles and triumphs, they are invited to reflect on timeless questions about the nature of identity, conformity, and the pursuit of happiness. In "Babbitt," Sinclair Lewis offers a powerful meditation on the human condition and the eternal quest for meaning and authenticity in a world dominated by conformity and convention.

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