Sinclair Lewis, fully Harry Sinclair Lewis

Sinclair
Lewis, fully Harry Sinclair Lewis
1885
1951

American Novelist, Social Critic and Playwright, Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature

Author Quotes

They decided now, talking it over in their tight little two-and-quarter room flat, that most people who call themselves 'truth seekers' - persons who scurry about chattering of Truth as though it were a tangible separable thing, like houses or salt or bread - did not so much desire to find Truth as to cure their mental itch. In novels, these truth-seekers quested the 'secret of life' in laboratories which did not seem to be provided with Bunsen flames or reagents; or they went, at great expense and much discomfort from hot trains and undesirable snakes, to Himalayan monasteries, to learn from unaseptic sages that the Mind can do all sorts of edifying things if one will but spend thirty or forty years in eating rice and gazing on one's navel. To these high matters Martin responded, 'Rot!' He insisted that there is no Truth but only many truths; that Truth is not a colored bird to be chased among the rocks and captured by its tail, but a skeptical attitude toward life.

What had he learned? Enough Hebrew and Greek to be able to crawl through the Bible by using lexicons — so that, like all his classmates once they were out of the seminary, he always read it in English. A good many of the more condemnatory texts of the Bible — rather less than the average Holy Roller carpenter-evangelist. The theory that India and Africa have woes because they are not Christianized, but that Christianized Bangor and Des Moines have woes because the devil, a being obviously more potent than omnipotent God, sneaks around counteracting the work of Baptist preachers.

In his youth (Seth) had promised to become manager of the shoe-store, and gave the same promise today.

It might be the doing of Satan, in whom Aaron anxiously believed with all of his being except, perhaps, his mind.

My dear man, there's nothing I'd like better than to be by myself occasionally... I suppose you expect me to sit here and dream delicately and satisfy my tempermentality while you wander in from the bathroom with lather all over your face and shout seen my brown pants?

Pugnacity is a form of courage, but a very bad form

Slow yellow river flowing, willows that gesture in tepid August airs, and four children playing at greatness, as, doubtless, great men themselves must play.

The men leaned back on their heels, put their hands in their trouser-pockets, and proclaimed their views with the booming profundity of a prosperous male repeating a thoroughly hackneyed statement about a matter of which he knows nothing whatever.

They were newly rich contractors who, having bought houses, motors, hand-painted pictures, and gentlemanliness, were now buying a refined ready-made philosophy. It had been a tossup with them whether to buy New Thought, Christian Science, or a good standard high-church model of Episcopalianism. He heard them whispering — whispering... The independence seeped out of him and he walked the streets alone, afraid of men's cynical eyes and the incessant hiss of whispering.

What I fight in Zenith is the standardization of thought, and, of course, the traditions of competition. The real villains of the piece are the clean, kind, industrious Family Men who use every known brand of trickery and cruelty to insure the prosperity of their cubs. The worst thing about these fellows is that they're so good and, in their work at least, so intelligent. You can't hate them properly, and yet their standardized minds are the enemy.

In other countries, art and literature are left to a lot of shabby bums living in attics and feeding on booze and spaghetti, but in America the successful writer or picture-painter is indistinguishable from any other decent businessman.

It was not her eloquence but her healing of the sick which raised Sharon to such eminence that she promised to become the most renowned evangelist in America. People were tired of eloquence; and the whole evangelist business was limited, since even the most ardent were not likely to be saved more than three of four times. But they could be healed constantly, and of the same disease.

Myron reflected that there are so many people in the world who are eager to do for you things that you do not wish done, provided only that you will do for them things that you don't wish to do.

Rev. Mr. Monday, the Prophet of Punch, has shown that he is the world's greatest salesman of salvation, and that by efficient organization the overhead of spiritual regeneration may be kept down to an unprecedented rock-bottom basis. He has converted over two hundred thousand lost and priceless souls at an average cost of less than ten dollars a head.

So debated Doremus, like some hundreds of thousands of other craftsmen, teachers, lawyers, what-not, in some dozens of countries under a dictatorship, who were aware enough to resent the tyranny, conscientious enough not to take its bribes cynically, yet not so abnormally courageous as to go willingly to exile or dungeon or chopping-block — particularly when they 'had wives and families to support.'

The middle class, that prisoner of the barbarian 20th century.

They were staggered to learn that a real tangible person, living in Minnesota, and married to their own flesh-and-blood relation, could apparently believe that divorce may not always be immoral; that illegitimate children do not bear any special and guaranteed form of curse; that there are ethical authorities outside of the Hebrew Bible; that men have drunk wine yet not died in the gutter; that the capitalistic system of distribution and the Baptist wedding-ceremony were not known in the Garden of Eden; that mushrooms are as edible as corn-beef hash; that the word dude is no longer frequently used; that there are Ministers of the Gospel who accept evolution; that some persons of apparent intelligence and business ability do not always vote the Republican ticket straight; that it is not a universal custom to wear scratchy flannels next the skin in winter; that a violin is not inherently more immoral than a chapel organ; that some poets do not have long hair; and that Jews are not always peddlers or pants-makers.

What is Love — the divine Love of which the—the great singer teaches us in Proverbs? It is the rainbow that comes after the dark cloud. It is the morning star and it is also the evening star, those being, as you all so well know, the brightest stars we know. It shines upon the cradle of the little one and when life has, alas, departed, to come no more, you find it still around the quiet tomb. What is it inspires all great men—be they preachers or patriots or great business men? What is it, my brethren, but Love? Ah, it fills the world with melody, with such sacred melodies as we have just indulged in together, for what is music? What, my friends, is music? Ah, what indeed is music but the voice of Love! - Elmer Gantry's famous speech

In the study of the profession to which he had looked forward all his life he found irritation and vacuity as well as serene wisdom; he saw no one clear path to Truth but a thousand paths to a thousand truths far-off and doubtful.

It was of no use. That particular sort of coward and evader he was not, and he lay abed facing all his sins, all his slacknesses, and the merited punishment by a just and angry God.

Never was a Family more insistent on learning one another’s movements than were the Bunch. All of them volubly knew, or indignantly desired to know, where all the others had been every minute of the week.

Reverend Lucius Fairlow... a mild-spoken young-old man with mild chestnut hair and a mild chestnut mustache and a conservative theology which stuck mildly to the pleasant certainties of God's anger and eternal hellfire.

So much in a revolution is nothing but waiting.

The more the Dakota have to do with the white, the worse. The whites give him whiskey to get his furs and bimeby he don't want to trap so many furst but he want plenty more whiskey. The white traders take his girl, and all he get in swap is a disease. They take his land, and all he get is a leetle annuity so he don't do any work and starve slow. The Indian gets white man's gun an he is drunk and kill his own brother and they call him sinful. That's what he get from the white man— fine kettle, fine gun, fine blanket, the big pox, the small pox and religion.

They've worked out elaborate charts classifying all intellectual occupations and interests, with the methods and materials and tools, and especially the goals — the aims, the ideals, the moral purposes — that are suited to each of them. Really tremendous! Why, a musician or an engineer, for example, could look at his chart and tell accurately whether he was progressing fast enough, at his age, and if not, just what his trouble was, and the remedy.

Author Picture
First Name
Sinclair
Last Name
Lewis, fully Harry Sinclair Lewis
Birth Date
1885
Death Date
1951
Bio

American Novelist, Social Critic and Playwright, Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature