• Current Reads

      Life after Life Jill McCorkle
      This Is Your Captain Speaking Jon Methven
      The Starboard Sea Amber Dermont
      Snark David Denby
      Bring Up the Bodies Hilary Mantel
  • Popular Tags

  • Recent Reflections

  • Categories

  • Moleskine’s All-Time Favorites

  • Echoes

    amaryllisturman on [836] The Girl on the Train…
    Andrea on [829] Inferno – Dan…
    Matthew on [825] Paradise Lost -John…
    Anokatony on [825] Paradise Lost -John…
    Matthew on The King’s English Books…
    Katie Marie on The King’s English Books…
  • Reminiscences

  • Blog Stats

    • 997,316 hits
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,723 other followers

First Impressions of Babbitt

1babbitt

There’s political propaganda; but there’s fiction more political than propaganda. Babbitt is one such book. Forty pages into the book, I felt like reading the Grand Old Party’s agenda. If only we had a man like George F. Babbitt today. Sinclair Lewis’s satirical 1922 novel Babbitt became a national phenomenon. It’s a comedy but still profound and relevant when read today.

“What we need first, last, and all the time is a good, sound business administration!” This echoes pro-business boosterism of Mitt Romney. There’s prideful anti-elitism of Rick Santorum: “Irresponsible teachers and professors are the worst [menace to sound government], and I am ashamed to say that several of them are on the faculty of our great State University!” Finally, strong advocate for union with Newt Gingrich’s zeal: “There oughtn’t to be any unions allowed at all; and as it’s the best way of fighting the unions, every business man ought to belong to an employers’-association and to the Chamber of Commerce.”

A real estate agent in the fictional Midwestern city of Zenith, Babbitt is obsessed with his standing in the community, and Zenith’s standing in the world. He takes beaming satisfaction from his association with prominent local figures. But he begins to dislike this life, to dislike his family, to dislike the cultureless of the middle-class conservative community—and dislikes himself for disliking them.

The most startling thing about Babbitt today is not its satire but the haunting, if brief, moments of introspection. In one scene Babbitt, with a sudden hideous glimmer, becomes conscious of his own mortality. His way of life, he realizes, is incredibly mechanical—a mechanical job, mechanical relationships, mechanical conversations, and a mechanical religion,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: