Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt, New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1922

  1. Christopher MacGowan

Published Online: 24 FEB 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781444393675.ch42

The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook

The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook

How to Cite

MacGowan, C. (2011) Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt, New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1922, in The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444393675.ch42

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 24 FEB 2012
  2. Published Print: 21 JAN 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405160230

Online ISBN: 9781444393675



  • Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt (1922);
  • Babbitt, the second of the series of successful and influential novels that Sinclair Lewis published - in the 1920s, bringing him in 1930 the Nobel Prize in Literature;
  • Zenith, of the novel set in the Midwest - bearing resemblances to Cincinnati;
  • central character, man who gives the novel - its title, “nothing of the giant”;
  • Babbitt, recognizing emptiness of his materialism - and his worship of technological progress, valuing, governing his business and domestic life;
  • In Zenith, consumer and business ethics - governing language, culture of city reinforcing the dehumanizing and mechanical power of its buildings;
  • Babbitt, more marketable status - Babbitt, himself at one point in the novel, the status of a renowned orator;
  • The Athletic Club, a mixture of Gothic, Roman Imperial, Spanish Mission, Chinese Chippendale, and Tudor - with a somewhat musicianless musicians' gallery;
  • Babbitt's marriage, as empty as Paul's - husband and wife not listening to each other, and Babbitt, like Paul, having an adulterous relationship;
  • success of Babbitt, and words “Babbitt” and “Babbittry” - passing into the American language


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Bibliography