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Main Street (Paperback)

Author:  Sinclair/ Allen Lewis Introduction:  Brooke Allen
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Learn more about Main Street:

Format: Paperback
ISBN-10: 1593083866
ISBN-13: 9781593083861
Sku: 216024905
Publish Date: 5/27/2010
Pages:  466
See more in Classics
On a hill by the Mississippi where Chippewas camped two generations ago, a girl stood in relief against the cornflower blue of Northern sky. (from the first line)
From the Publisher:
Main Street, by Sinclair Lewis, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
“This is America—a town of a few thousand, in a region of wheat and corn and dairies and little groves.” So Sinclair Lewis—recipient of the Nobel Prize and rejecter of the Pulitzer—prefaces his novel Main Street. Lewis is brutal in his depictions of the self-satisfied inhabitants of small-town America, a place which proves to be merely an assemblage of pretty surfaces, strung together and ultimately empty.

Brooke Allen holds a Ph.D. in English literature from Columbia University. She is a book critic whose work has appeared in numerous publications including The Atlantic Monthly, The New Criterion, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Hudson Review, and The New Leader. A collection of her essays, Twentieth Century Attitudes, will be published in 2003.

Carol Kennicott marries a small-town doctor and moves to Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, hoping that her idealistic belief in social reform can be realized. Instead, she observes firsthand the stifling realities of small town life--cultural narrowness, smugness, petty cruelties--and finds that her marriage can't survive what she learns. Sinclair Lewis's best-selling 1920 novel was controversial in its time because of its gritty refusal to romanticize small-town life--one of America's fondest myths.
Author Bio
Sinclair Lewis
Lewis, the son of a doctor, was born in the small Minnesota town he later reinvented in his novel MAIN STREET. He tried to enlist in the Spanish-American War when he was 13, but was brought back home by his distraught parents. He attended the local public schools, after which he went to Yale, where he never really felt accepted. He left in 1906 without a degree to work at Helicon Hall, Upton Sinclair's Utopian community, followed by an impulsive interlude when he traveled to Panama hoping (in vain) to help build the canal. He returned to Yale, however, and finally graduated in 1908. He then spent several years working at odd jobs and writing for newspapers as he traveled the U.S. He also began to write fiction, most of it negligible. In the 1920s he began to produce the handful of novels that would ensure his place in literary history, beginning with MAIN STREET (1920), which was enormously successful, selling hundreds of thousands of copies; it was followed by BABBITT (1922), ARROWSMITH (1925), ELMER GANTRY (1927), and DODSWORTH (1929), most of them satirical critiques of American middle-class complacency. All these novels were popular best-sellers, and contributed to America's postwar de-sentimentalized view of itself. After he became a literary lion, Lewis taught at Midwestern universities. He was married and divorced twice; his second wife was the well-known newspaperwoman Dorothy Thompson. When he became ill, in his mid-60s, he moved to Italy, where he died at 65 of heart disease. Lewis was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1930 "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters." Lewis famously described himself as "a dull fellow whose virtue--if there is any--is to be found in his books."


New Yorker
"It is not just MAIN STREET'S heroine, who longs to get out of Gopher Prairie; it is the reader as well. And yet this novel, with all its vacillations and ambiguities of artistic purpose, has a reach of greatness to it, a sense of human softness and helpless witness. The popular success of the book derived, my suspicion is..., from the identification of many female readers with the heroine." - John Updike

Baltimore Sun
"'Main Street' is being vaselined by the newspaper[s]...and pawed by the women's clubs, not because it happens to be a very competent piece of writing, but simply and solely because it presents an extremely acidulous picture of human existence in a small American town, and thus caresses the vanity of all those who are able to thank God that they do not live in such a town, and are not as Dr. Lewis' folk are....Here, of course, I do not sniff at Herr von Lewis' achievement. On the contrary, I seize the opportunity to say again, as I said a good while back, that 'Main Street' is a very excellent piece of work, boldly imagined and often brilliantly executed....Books as good as 'Main Street' should be admired on a plane above mere prejudices...the cockney should not be so ready to laugh at the poor yokel: he is quite as thumping an ass himself." - H. L. Mencken 01/03/1921

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