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

Fine, large, meaningless, general terms like romance and business can always be related. They take the place of thinking, and are highly useful to optimists and lecturers.

He said brokenly many things beautiful in their common-ness.

I don't believe in fear of divine vengeance, and I do believe in justice and equality.

A dictator with something of the earthy American sense of humor of a Mark Twain, a George Ade, a Will Rogers, an Artemus Ward.

Babbit was an average father. He was affectionate, bullying, opinionated, ignorant, and rather wistful. Like most parents he enjoyed the game of waiting till the victim was clearly wrong, then virtuously pouncing.

For many minutes, for many hours, for a bleak eternity, he lay awake, shivering, reduced to primitive terror, comprehending that he had won freedom, and wondering what he could do with anything so unknown and so embarrassing as freedom.

He still had a fragment of his boyhood belief that congressmen were persons of intelligence and importance.

I hate your city. It has standardized all the beauty out of life. It is one big railroad station — with all the people taking tickets for the best cemeteries.

A proper school should teach nothing but bookkeeping, agriculture, geometry, dead languages made deader by leaving out all the amusing literature, and the Hebrew Bible as interpreted by men superbly trained to ignore contradictions, men technically called "Fundamentalists".

Babbitt looked up irritably from the comic strips in the Evening Advocate. They composed his favorite literature and art, these illustrated chronicles in which Mr. Mutt hit Mr. Jeff with a rotten egg, and Mother corrected Father's vulgarisms by means of a rolling-pin. With the solemn face of a devotee, breathing heavily through his open mouth, he plodded nightly through every picture, and during the rite he detested interruptions. Furthermore, he felt that on the subject of Shakespeare he wasn't really an authority. Neither the Advocate-Times, the Evening Advocate, nor the Bulletin of the Zenith Chamber of Commerce had ever had an editorial on the matter, and until one of them had spoken he found it hard to form an original opinion.

Fortune has dealt with me rather too well. I have known little struggle, not much poverty, many generosities. Now and then I have, for my books or myself, been somewhat warmly denounced — there was one good pastor in California who upon reading my Elmer Gantry desired to lead a mob and lynch me, while another holy man in the state of Maine wondered if there was no respectable and righteous way of putting me in jail. And, much harder to endure than any raging condemnation, a certain number of old acquaintances among journalists, what in the galloping American slang we call the "I Knew Him When Club", have scribbled that since they know me personally, therefore I must be a rather low sort of fellow and certainly no writer. But if I have now and then received such cheering brickbats, still I, who have heaved a good many bricks myself, would be fatuous not to expect a fair number in return.

He was an actor of genius. There was no more overwhelming actor on the stage, in the motion pictures, nor even in the pulpit. He would whirl arms, bang tables, glare from mad eyes, vomit Biblical wrath from a gaping mouth; but he would also coo like a nursing mother, beseech like an aching lover, and in between tricks would coldly and almost contemptuously jab his crowds with figures and facts — figures and facts that were inescapable even when, as often happened, they were entirely incorrect.

A sensational event was changing from the brown suit to the gray the contents of his pockets. He was earnest about these objects. They were of eternal importance, like baseball or the Republican Party.

Being a man given to oratory and high principles, he enjoyed the sound of his own vocabulary and the warmth of his own virtue.

Gentlemen, the most important part of living is not the living but the pondering upon it. And the most important part of experimentation is not doing the experiment but making notes, ve-ry accurate quantitative notes — in ink. I am told that a great many clever people feel they can keep notes in their heads. I have often observed with pleasure that such persons do not have heads in which to keep their notes. This is very good, because thus the world never sees their results and science is not encumbered with them.

He was born to be a senator. He never said anything important, and he always said it sonorously.

A village in a country which is taking pains to become altogether standardized and pure, which aspires to succeed Victorian England as the chief mediocrity of the world, is no longer merely provincial, no longer downy and restful in its leaf-shadowed ignorance. It is a force seeking to conquer the earth... Sure of itself, it bullies other civilizations, as a traveling salesman in a brown derby conquers the wisdom of China and tacks advertisements of cigarettes over arches for centuries dedicate to the sayings of Confucius. Such a society functions admirably in the production of cheap automobiles, dollar watches, and safety razors. But it is not satisfied until the entire world also admits that the end and joyous purpose of living is to ride in flivvers, to make advertising-pictures of dollar watches, and in the twilight to sit talking not of love and courage but of the convenience of safety razors.

But I am going to make you go to church. You’ll be a socialist or something like that if you get to be too much of a poet.

Good sense from a child was not necessarily contemptible beside foolishness from a grown-up.

He was given to being worried and advisory and to sitting up till midnight in his unventilated library, grinding at the task of putting new wrong meanings into perfectly obvious statements in the Bible.

Aaron began to learn the Dakota language. Isaac, like a newly ordained Doctor of Philosophy, after years of being nagged into learning, rejoiced to be invited to stand up and look important and teach. He was astonished by his own erudition and by the fact that his class of one did not walk out.

Carl was drawn… into a dance regarding which he was sure only that it was either a waltz, a two step, or something else.

He explained that hatred was low. However, for the benefit of the more leathery and zealous deacons down front, he permitted them to hate all Catholics, all persons who failed to believe in hell and immersion, and all rich mortgage-holders, wantoning in the betraying smiles of scarlet women, each of whom wore silk and in her bejeweled hand held a ruby glass of perfidious wine.

He was permitted, without restriction, to speak of himself as immoral, agnostic and socialistic, so long as it was universally known that he remained pure, Presbyterian, and Republican.

Aaron had learned … from Mr. Fairlow's two-hour sermons on "The Jealousy of an Angry Jehovah Who Hath Weighed Sinners in the Balance and Found Them Wanting",...that God was a torturer who punished small boys for sins they might commit later.

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