KINGSBLOOD ROYAL by Sinclair Lewis


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The most frankly thesis novel that Sinclair Lewis has ever done- and that is saying a good deal, for he has not attempted to conceal the purpose behind his writings. In this book he virtually negates the values of his arguments by drawing his main points in almost caricature lines of exaggeration, so that not only does his plot seem contrived, but his people are stock characters. Stock- that is- to the extent that they are invented to fill his needs; they are far from the ordinary conception of ""stock"". His story deals with a promising young banker, a redhead, with an exquisite wife and pink and gold cherub of a child. In hunting down some family tree matters for his father, he stumbles on a fact, unknown (or concealed) that one of his forebears on his mother's side was a full-blooded Negro. Whereupon Neil starts to find out what it is like to be a Negro, in a northern mid-west town where, presumably, prejudice is non-existent. He finds out- in fairly dramatic terms. He also finds out that among the Negroes are some people who are infinitely finer and more cultured and more interesting than the club mates and bridge partners he has associated with. But along with this discovery comes a hypersensitivity to the slights, the insults leveled- often gratuitously, sometimes deliberately and viciously- and in a burst of violent anger he gives his secret away. Then follows the tragedy imposed on those innocent of any drop of Negro blood -- discrimination, loneliness, joblessness, violence. But at the close- when he is fighting for the right to keep his home, he finds which are his real friends:- what his real values. There you have it:- told with Sinclair Lewis' fast paced narrative abilities, his sense of interplay of personalities. He drives home some unpalatable truths, but he does it with a sledge hammer, not a rapier. All the criticisms levelled at Gentleman's Agreement as a novel where thesis overrides the story are infinitely more true here. But any Sinclair Lewis book has tremendous sales impetus.

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1947
ISBN: 0375756868
Publisher: Random House