Babbitt

Babbitt

Book - 1950
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A novel "saturated with americanca's vitality" (Rebecca West)-the story of a middle-class businessman and social climber whose name became synonymous with smug conformity. "I wish I had written Babbitt" (H. G. Wells).
Publisher: San Diego, Calif. : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, c1950
ISBN: 9780151104215
0151104212
Branch Call Number: FIC Lewis 92cn 01
Characteristics: 472 p. --

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AaronAardvark1940
Aug 26, 2018

I enjoyed reading Jeffers' comments, posted late in 2017. He describes the book fairly well, but he lost me when he stated that there was no plot. (Spoiler warning) Lewis spends some time telling us about Babbitt's youth, especially about what his aspirations were. But Babbitt doesn't enter the law, he doesn't work for the common man, he conforms to the model set by his father-in-law. Maybe this is a mid-life crisis, but Lewis makes clear that Babbitt has been having misgivings, frequently wondering why he didn't accomplish the goals he had as a young man. The acting out that we see in the book gets him into trouble, from which he hasn't the strength to extricate himself, so he conforms, albeit with rebellious thoughts. But read the conversation he has with his son at the very end of the book. He still has dreams.
The book is an excellent study of one person's interaction with society.

t
tonyalanjeffers
Oct 03, 2017

Golly Gee Whiz this novel has lots of Pep! In addition to learning the slang of the 1920s you can get a good idea of what life was like in Prohibition Era America (that's prohibition of alcohol in case you weren't sure). This was the beginning of the car age; and George F. Babbitt goes everywhere he wants to go in his car just like most Americans do today.
A die-hard conservative and something less than honest Real Estate Broker out to make all the bucks he can George begins to feel the emptiness of his life; and has what we would call today a mid-life crisis. He is proud that he earns $8000 a year which in 2017 dollars equals $102,193 and 44 cents!
I really enjoyed reading about urban life in the fictional city of Zenith in 1920. Social media was called "Gossip" and transmitted in person or via telephone.
Media was: newspapers, magazines, phonographic records and motion pictures(silent). Commercial radio had just made it's debut and is not mentioned.
Long distance travel was by train -with at least two detailed descriptions of train trips. Overseas travel was by ocean liner. It is notable that there is no mention of airplanes in spite of many references to Babbitt's admiration of new mechanical inventions.
This book has a lot of descriptions and lots of character development of characters we get only a short glimpse of and then they disappear.
About half way threw the book I started to wonder when the plot was going to unfold; but Lewis never gets around to that. I guess it's not suppose to have a plot just a lot of descriptions about life in 1920 urbania. It gets into just about every possible subject politics, social upheavals, fashions, crime and religious hypocrisy! Seattle gets a couple of favorable mentions.
This is a book and there is also an ebook available from SPL. The reviews above are for the audiobook version which appear quite good with big stars playing the rolls and Ed Asner as Babbitt and period music apparently more of an audio drama than just a reading of the book and it is available from SPL.
I hope you will enjoy reading it as much I did.

wilstyles Mar 13, 2012

Who knew this was so funny? Mr. Babbit just wants to be the ideal citizen and family. Then things go astray.

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