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

If travel were so inspiring and informing a business ... then the wisest men in the world would be deck hands on tramp steamers, Pullman porters, and Mormon missionaries.

It is one of the major tragedies that nothing is more discomforting than the hearty affection of the Old Friends who never were friends.

Mr. Blingham, and may he fry in his own cooking-oil, was assistant treasurer of the Flaver-Saver Company.

Pickerbaugh apparently believed that this research would take six weeks; Martin had hoped to do it in two years; and with the present interruptions it would require two hundred.

She was snatched back from a dream of far countries, and found herself on Main Street.

The greatest mystery about a human being is not his reaction to sex or praise, but the manner in which he contrives to put in twenty-four hours a day. It is this which puzzles the longshoreman about the clerk, the Londoner about the bushman.

They all had the same ideas and expressed them always with the same ponderous and brassy assurance. If it was not Babbitt who was delivering any given verdict, at least he was beaming on the chancellor who did deliver it.

What are these unheard of sins you condemn so much - and like so well?

In Floral Heights and the other prosperous sections of Zenith, especially in the young married set, there were many women who had nothing to do. Though they had few servants, yet with gas stoves, electric ranges and dish-washers and vacuum cleaners, and tiled kitchen walls, their houses were so convenient that they had little housework, and much of their food came from bakeries and delicatessens. They had but two, one, or no children; and despite the myth that the Great War had made work respectable, their husbands objected to their wasting time and getting a lot of crank ideas in unpaid social work, and still more to their causing a rumor, by earning money, that they were not adequately supported. They worked perhaps two hours a day, and the rest of the time they ate chocolates, went to the motion-pictures, went window-shopping, went in gossiping twos and threes to card-parties, read magazines, thought timorously of the lovers who never appeared, and accumulated a splendid restlessness which they got rid of by nagging their husbands. The husbands nagged back.

It isn't what you earn but how spend it that fixes your class.

Mr. Wilkins came back and hemmed and hawed a good deal; he praised the work she hadn't considered well done, and pointed out faults in what she considered particularly clever achievements.

Probably none of the Weagles gave five minutes' thought a year to theology or ecclesiology, except Ora, who occasionally stirred up a lot of interesting family irritation by announcing that he was going to become a Catholic, an Episcopalian, a Buddhist, or a Seventh Day Adventist.

Sleep with me sleep with my dogs.

The Maker of the universe with stars a hundred thousand light-years apart was interested, furious, and very personal about it if a small boy played baseball on Sunday afternoon.

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.

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