SINCLAIR LEWIS: An American Life by Mark Schorer
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SINCLAIR LEWIS: An American Life

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This book could very well be the definitive biography of Lewis. Schorer has captured the man succinctly and acutely -- the Irascible and flamboyant Lewis, compelled to write, disastrous in his relationships with all people, one of the most paradoxical figures to cross the American stage. The sub-title is apt. It is a portrait of an American life, full of its contradictions and final tragedy. On the one hand the provincial boob who never left Sauk City, Minnesota, Lewis is also the cosmopolite drifting from Yale into a radical world and into a large arena of intellectual Bohemia. He was revolted by both in varying measure, sometimes extolling the virtues of each. His was a brilliant mind with no single vision of life, a charming manner that served to alicnate all those who knew him, a personality equally ill at ease and detested by his lessers and betters. A contemporary has said, ""there are no second acts in American lives"". This could be said of Harry Sinclair Lewis. What formed him -- the small town, the rebellion from the puritanical father, the desperate search for and the failure of love -- this is Lewis' brief drama. He never came to grips with fame or with the other currents of his day. He achieved fame quickly and easily and as quickly and easily lost it. He was a fine satirist who found all of the elements of satire in American life in himself. Lewis in five books achieved greatness. The remainder of his work never rose above the banal. Nevertheless, as Schorer states , without Sinclair Lewis American literature is inconceivable. His story is all here. It is descriptively written and perceptive of the world that created Lewis and of the intellectual climate of half a century. There is little emphasis on the works themselves; It is the man who dominates these pages. Anyone who has heard of Sinclair Lewis, let alone read any of his novels, would be obliged to read Schorer's biography. It is that good.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 1961
Publisher: McGraw-Hill