With Commentary by E. M. Forster, Dorothy Parker, H. L. Mencken, Lewis Mumford, Rebecca West, Sherwood Anderson, Malcolm Cowley, Alfred Kazin, Constance Rourke, and Mark Schorer.
Main Street, the story of an idealistic young woman’s attempts to reform her small town, brought Lewis immediate acclaim when it was published in 1920. It remains one of the essential texts of the American scene. Lewis Mumford observed: “In Main Streetan American had at last written of our life with something of the intellectual rigor and critical detachment that had seemed so cruel and unjustified [in Charles Dickens and Matthew Arnold]. Young people had grown up in this environment, suffocated, stultified, helpless, but unable to find any reason for their spiritual discomfort. Mr. Lewis released them.”
Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951), was born in Sauk Centre, Minnesota and graduated from Yale in 1907. In 1930 he became the first American recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Main Street(1920) was his first critical and commercial success. Lewis’s other noted books include Babbitt (1922), Arrowsmith (1925),Elmer Gantry (1927), Dodsworth (1929), and It Can’t Happen Here(1935).
Review From the Publisher
This classic by Sinclair Lewis shattered the sentimental American myth of happy small-town life with its satire. Main Street attacks the conformity and dullness of early 20th Century midwestern village life in the story of Carol Milford, the city girl who marries the town doctor. Her efforts to bring culture to the prairie village are met by a wall of gossip, greed, and petty small-minded bigotry. Lewis’s complex and compelling work established him as an important character in American literature.
Review From Other
Novel by Sinclair Lewis, published in 1920. The story of Main Street is seen through the eyes of Carol Kennicott, a young woman married to a Midwestern doctor who settles in the Minnesota town of Gopher Prairie (modeled on Lewis’ hometown of Sauk Center). The power of the book derives from Lewis’ careful rendering of local speech, customs, and social amenities. The satire is double-edged–directed against both the townspeople and the superficial intellectualism of those who despise them. (The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature )