Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Today of 1922

This month’s book club choice was BABBITT by Sinclair Lewis.

A vivid portrait of American mores in 1922 – with nary a description of life and values that isn’t still just as relevant today.

The novel takes a look at the mid-life crisis of one George F. Babbitt, middle-class real estate man looking to find his place in the world.

The heart of the book seems summed up in early speech by Babbitt himself:

“Kind of comes over me: here I’ve pretty much done all the things I ought to; supported my family, and got a good house and a six-cylinder car, and built up a nice little business, and I haven’t any vices ‘specially, except smoking – and I’m practically cutting that out, by the way. And I belong to the church, and play enough golf to keep in trim, and I only associate with good decent fellows. And yet, even so, I don’t know that I’m entirely satisfied!”

And off he goes, in search of that rolling stone of satisfaction.

Which he can’t get no of.

Later in the book:

“Thus it came to him merely to run away was folly, because he could never run away from himself.”

The book is a comedy, with funny lines and funny moments, that well up to a sadness of the life of the man who has everything – except the courage to embrace a meaningful existence.

Side note: another quote that I can apply to far too many people in the past months:

“She was a crusader and, like every crusader, she exulted in the opportunity to be vicious in the name of virtue.”


Just my thoughts,



David Goulet said...

Thanks for including that last quote about crusaders. It articulated exactly how I've been feeling about someone I normally have much respect for.

There's a big difference between urging repentance and demanding it at the end of a verbal whip. I've yet to meet a person who doesn't very quickly despise the one wielding the whip.

Gaffney said...

I must admit that the line really struck me because of recent personal experience. The amount of glee in the whipping... enough to give one pause.

Sarah said...

Oh, indeed! I too thought of some rather vicious crusading ranting I've read recently. It had been making me wonder "How to you convince the 'sinner' to repent when you're so busy hating that person for the 'sin'?"

It's really painful to see when it's coming from someone whom you (as you say) otherwise respect and/or like.

As for the earlier part of the post - interesting!