Ron Peters's Reviews > Babbitt

Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
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really liked it
bookshelves: fiction

Reading this satire on the American middle class plugged a gap in my reading I wasn’t even aware of!

It’s funny; I grinned my way through it. In terms of subject matter, though diametrically opposite in approach, it fits in with Thorstein Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class, Sloan Wilson’s The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, and David Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd.

It’s the story of George F. Babbitt, realtor, solidly middle-class family man, conformist, anti-intellectual, publicly moral and decent, privately holding to flexible business ethics, civic booster, self-made man, social climber, avid consumer, urbanite, technology fan, safe and wholesome.

It’s the story of his growing dissatisfaction with The American Dream, his rebellion against all it stands for, his swift punishment and banishment by his petit-bourgeois fellows, and his craven crawl back to conformity and acceptance.

From Wikipedia, I learned that H. L. Mencken loved this book. Also, I had no idea that “Babbitt” (“a materialistic and complacent businessman conforming to the standards of his set”) and “Babbitry” (“the Philistine behavior of a Babbitt”) were in common usage in the 1930s. They apply equally well today, whether or not we use these words.

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Reading Progress

December 1, 2021 – Shelved as: to-read
December 1, 2021 – Shelved
December 5, 2021 – Started Reading
December 5, 2021 – Shelved as: fiction
December 5, 2021 –
page 119
December 6, 2021 –
page 246
December 7, 2021 –
page 464
December 7, 2021 – Finished Reading

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