Lewis, Sinclair

▪ American writer
in full  Harry Sinclair Lewis 
born Feb. 7, 1885, Sauk Centre, Minn., U.S.
died Jan. 10, 1951, near Rome, Italy
 American novelist and social critic who punctured American complacency with his broadly drawn, widely popular satirical novels. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930, the first given to an American.

      Lewis graduated from Yale University (1907) and was for a time a reporter and also worked as an editor for several publishers. His first novel, Our Mr. Wrenn (1914), attracted favourable criticism but few readers. At the same time he was writing with ever-increasing success for such popular magazines as The Saturday Evening Post and Cosmopolitan, but he never lost sight of his ambition to become a serious novelist. He undertook the writing of Main Street as a major effort, assuming that it would not bring him the ready rewards of magazine fiction. Yet its publication in 1920 made his literary reputation. Main Street is seen through the eyes of Carol Kennicott, an Eastern girl married to a Midwestern doctor who settles in Gopher Prairie, Minnesota (modeled on Lewis' hometown of Sauk Centre). The power of the book derives from Lewis' careful rendering of local speech, customs, and social amenities. The satire is double-edged—directed against both the townspeople and the superficial intellectualism that despises them. In the years following its publication, Main Street became not just a novel but the textbook on American provincialism.

      In 1922 Lewis published Babbitt, a study of the complacent American whose individuality has been sucked out of him by Rotary clubs, business ideals, and general conformity. The name Babbitt passed into general usage to represent the optimistic, self-congratulatory, middle-aged businessman whose horizons were bounded by his village limits.

      He followed this success with Arrowsmith (1925), a satiric study of the medical profession, with emphasis on the frustration of fine scientific ideals. His next important book, Elmer Gantry (1927), was an attack on the ignorant, gross, and predatory leaders who had crept into the Protestant church. Dodsworth (1929), concerning the experiences of a retired big businessman and his wife on a European tour, offered Lewis a chance to contrast American and European values and the very different temperaments of the man and his wife.

      Lewis' later books were not up to the standards of his work in the 1920s. It Can't Happen Here (1935) dramatized the possibilities of a Fascist takeover of the United States. It was produced as a play by the Federal Theatre with 21 companies in 1936. Kingsblood Royal (1947) is a novel of race relations.

      In his final years Lewis lived much of the time abroad. His reputation declined steadily after 1930. His two marriages (the second was to the political columnist Dorothy Thompson) ended in divorce, and he drank excessively.

Additional Reading
Lewis' life and work are examined in Mark Schorer, Sinclair Lewis: An American Life (1961); D.J. Dooley, The Art of Sinclair Lewis (1967); and James Lundquist, Sinclair Lewis (1973, reissued 1984). Critical studies include Martin Light, The Quixotic Vision of Sinclair Lewis (1975); Martin Bucco (ed.), Critical Essays on Sinclair Lewis (1986); and James M. Hutchisson, The Rise of Sinclair Lewis, 1920–1930 (1996).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lewis, Sinclair — ► (1885 1951) Novelista estadounidense. Es considerado uno de los principales representantes del realismo social. Fue premio Nobel de Literatura en 1930. Autor de Calle mayor (1920) y Babbill (1922) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Lewis Sinclair — n. (1885 1951) USA novelist and playwright …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Lewis, Sinclair —    см. Льюис, Синклер …   Писатели США. Краткие творческие биографии

  • LEWIS (S.) — LEWIS SINCLAIR (1885 1951) Premier écrivain américain à avoir obtenu le prix Nobel de littérature, en 1930, Sinclair Lewis est un satiriste doublé d’un naturaliste. Ses cibles: la petite ville (Main Street , 1920), avec ses mesquineries, ses… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Lewis — (Carlton Mc Hinley, dit Carl) (né en 1961) athlète américain; champion olympique à Los Angeles (1984) du 100 m, du 200 m, du saut en longueur et du 4 fois 100 m. Lewis (Gilbert Newton) (1875 1946) physicien et chimiste américain. Il définit les… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Lewis — Lewis, C. S. (1898 1963) a British writer and university teacher. He wrote literary and religious works but is famous for his children s stories The Chronicles of Narnia, which include the well known novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Sinclair Lewis — Infobox Writer name = Sinclair Lewis birthname = Harry Sinclair Lewis birthdate = birth date|1885|2|7|mf=y birthplace = Sauk Centre, Minnesota deathdate = death date and age|1951|1|10|1885|2|7|mf=y deathplace = Rome, Italy occupation = Novelist,… …   Wikipedia

  • Sinclair Lewis — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Lewis. Sinclair Lewis Activités romancier, nouvelliste, dramaturge …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Lewis — El nombre Lewis puede hacer referencia a las siguientes personas: ● Arthur Lewis, Sir William Arthur Lewis, economista británico (Santa Lucía, 1915 Barbados, 1991). Premio Nobel de economía en 1979. ● Carl Lewis, Carlton McHinley Lewis, atleta… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Sinclair Lewis — noun United States novelist who satirized middle class America in his novel Main Street (1885 1951) • Syn: ↑Lewis, ↑Harry Sinclair Lewis • Instance Hypernyms: ↑writer, ↑author * * * Sinclair Lewis …   Useful english dictionary

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