March 7, 2017

Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

By Sinclair Lewis

A private trouble jars a middle-aged genuine property agent from his complacency during this satire of middle-class American lifestyles. Sinclair Lewis' nice novel deals a scathing portrait of the results of clinging to traditional values.

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Extra resources for Babbitt

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The persona had to be contrite but self-centred; abased and ashamed but interesting enough, and even positive enough about his drug experiences, to engage the reader. De Quincey declared that ‘Guilt and misery shrink, by a natural instinct, from public notice’, and yet he proceeded to exhibit exactly these feelings in great detail to the reader over thousands of words (De Quincey, 1971, p. 29). Thompson had become caught in a variation of this double bind; although hardly guilty or miserable, he had to narrate authentic-sounding drug stories to his readership while somehow avoiding the trap of allowing that very readership to dictate the presentation and even the nature of the drug experiences themselves.

This means that it is an interplay of signs arranged less according to its signified content than according to the very nature of the signifier. Writing unfolds like a game [jeu] that invariably goes beyond its own rules and transgresses its limits. In writing, the point is not to manifest or exalt the act of writing; nor is it to pin a subject within language; it is, rather, a question of creating a space into which the writing subject constantly disappears. (Foucault, 2000, p. 206) Thompson’s writing is far more challenging than a simple Gonzo autobiography.

Steadman, far gone on acid, had locked himself in the men’s room somewhere over St. Louis and the head stewardess was frantic. I knew I would need psychic strength and energy when we landed – to meet the press limousine and get on with our heinous work’ (FLA, p. 320). Stepping into History: Values, Contexts, Influences 27 for instance, was cast very much in the mould of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, even though the end result was very different. Thompson set out to replicate his own successful formula, by playing the Gonzo journalist caught up in something bigger, and in the process exposing its seedy underbelly, as well as his own complicity in the nightmarish scene.

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