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date: 07 July 2020


The Concise Oxford Companion to American Literature

James D. Hart

novel by Sinclair Lewis, published in 1922.George Folansbee Babbitt, an enterprising, moral, stereotyped, and prosperous real-estate broker of the typical Midwestern city of Zenith, has been trained to believe in the virtues of home life, the Republican party, and middle-class conventions. Suddenly tiring of his life, he takes a vacation with Paul Riesling, an artist who has been forced into the role of a businessman. His return to Zenith is at first difficult, but he shortly discovers pleasure in campaigning for a friend for mayor, in several profitable realestate deals, in the vice-presidency of the Boosters’ Club, and in speeches before prominent local gatherings. During his wife’s absence, he again tries to find an outlet from Zenith standards. After an unsuccessful and lonely trip to Maine, he enters into a liaison with Mrs. Tanis Judique, an attractive widow who fails to be the “fairy child” of his dreams when he sees her in clear light in relation to her group of nondescript would be bohemians, “The Bunch.” He next turns to liberalism, when impressed by Seneca Doane, a socialist lawyer. For this added heresy he is ostracized by all right-minded citizens. He is not again able to return to Zenith’s outlook until his wife Myra is suddenly taken ill, and he once more feels a spiritual union with her and a sympathy with his city’s point of view.... ...

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