Stories of Sinclair Lewis
From the Sauk Centre Herald
1) Lewis and Bryant Library
2) Cast gets into Sinclair Lewis' skin
3) Bookseller remembers afternoon with Lewis
4) Is Lewis relavent?
5) Carol Kennicott returns to Main Street
6) Lewis scholars celebrate 75th anniversary of Babbitt
7) Enlightened on Lewis
8) The German side of Sinclair Lewis
9) The athletic side of Sinclair Lewis
Enlightened on Lewis
Politics and religion
I've always questioned Lewis' liberal politics. Today, he'd be called a limousine liberal. A rich man concerned about the poor and downtrodden but he didn't spend much time with those folks. Instead, he spent his time with the rich and famous, like himself.
There are many reports of his generosity. He was always helping some struggling writer and farmers. He inherited land in North Dakota and ended up building the renters a new home with all the luxuries of the city.
He wanted to write a great labor novel but couldn't get too close to labor leaders. I figure he had a tough time with people so strongly committed to an ideal that they couldn't see any other point of view. He felt the same way with religion and pointed that out in Elmer Gantry.
Lewis' dislike for power politics may have been one reason he didn't get along with his second wife Dorothy Thompson a leading political reporter and commentator of the 1930s and 40s.
Lewis could be the life or death of a party. Wherever he and his wife went, a party was soon to follow. They loved having people over for dinner and conversation. Lewis would do research on his guests so he could discuss or debate about their field of work. He would recite dramatic poems with his guests in the stanza or imitate great writers and national personalities.
Eventually, his partying and drinking would get the best of him. He went from being fun at parties to being dangerous. While working on a lake near Brainard, he punched out some guy critical of his books.
Family and nation
Lewis died a sad and lonely man. He had separated himself from friends and family and his writing abilities dried up. His relationships with his wives, sons and father were sad at best. He died without family or friends around him.
While Lewis could be charming, entertaining and brilliant he was driven by some ideal of perfection that even he couldn't live up to.
He looked at America the same way. He loved his country but he didn't like it. He wanted us to be a far greater nation. He wanted Americans to have culture, grace and generosity.
Lingeman's biography does a good job of outlining this complicated life and presenting a case for Lewis' importance as an American author and man worthy of a festival. While he wasn't a warm and fuzzy story teller he did manage to draw our attention to what is important.
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