The first of Sinclair Lewis’s great successes, Main Street shattered the sentimental American myth of happy small-town life with its satire of narrow-minded provincialism. Reflecting his own unhappy childhood in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, Lewis’s sixth novel attacked the conformity and dullness he saw in midwestern village life. Young college graduate Carol Milford moves from the city to tiny Gopher Prairie after marrying the local doctor, and tries to bring culture to the small town. But her efforts to reform the prairie village are met by a wall of gossip, greed, conventionality, pitifully unambitious cultural endeavors, and—worst of all—the pettiness and bigotry of small-town minds.
Lewis’s portrayal of a marriage torn by disillusionment and a woman forced into compromises is at once devastating social satire and persuasive realism. His subtle characterizations and intimate details of small-town America make Main Street a complex and compelling work and established Lewis as an important figure in twentieth-century American literature.
About the Author
Nobel Prize-winning writer Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) is best known for novels like Main Street, Babbitt, Arrowsmith (for which he was awarded but declined the Pulitzer Prize), and Elmer Gantry. A writer from his youth, Lewis wrote for and edited the Yale Literary Magazine while a student, and started his literary career writing popular stories for magazines and selling plots to other writers like Jack London. Lewis s talent for description and creating unique characters won him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1930, making him the first American writer to win the prestigious award. Considered to be one of the greats of American literature, Lewis was honoured with a Great Americans series postage stamp, and his work has been adapted for both stage and screen.
Morris Dickstein is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English and Theatre at the CUNY Graduate Center and the author of Dancing in the Dark, an award-winning cultural history of the Great Depression, and Why Not Say What Happened, a memoir. He lives in New York City