Man for Our Times

Kate picked up an old copy of Sinclair Lewis’s “Babbitt” from the Berkeley Public Library. She wants to read it because it’s the basis of a play a local group is putting on–“Ubu for President.” She was struck by the opening description of the title character. After a description of a marvelous American city called Zenith, a place “built … for giants,” Lewis introduces his protagonist:

“There was nothing of the giant in the aspect of the man who was beginning to awaken on the sleeping-porch of a Dutch Colonial house in that residential district of Zenith known as Floral Heights.

“His name was George F. Babbitt. He was forty-six years old now, in April, 1920, and he made nothing in particular, neither butter nor shoes nor poetry, but he was nimble in the calling of selling houses for more than people could afford to pay. ”

One Reply to “Man for Our Times”

  1. Babbitt is available as an audiobook from the Berkeley public Library. I happened to listen to it during a cross-country drive back to NJ. (Infospigot is now my primary source of North Berkeley local news.) In any event, there is some initial novelty that the Babbit’s materialistic world is so similar to what we experience today. Your highlight is a typical example. However, I found the book became increasingly annoying because nothing significant changes in thecourse of the story. After 14 hours of audiobook listening, I was asking myself what was the point?

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