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The Job: An American Novel, by Sinclair Lewis

Updated on February 9, 2014

The Job: An American Novel, by Sinclair Lewis

The Job: An American Novel is one of the early novels written by famous American author, Sinclair Lewis.  This novel was one of the stepping stones towards Lewis's success.  The first edition was printed in 1917, and is now a very rare and valuable antique book. While this won't have the attention of many of the classic novels that followed Main Street, it's still an important part of Sinclair Lewis's bibliography and his development into the first American author to win a Pulitzer and the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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The serious novel out of two 1917 releases

The Job: An American Novel was one of two novels printd by Sinclair Lewis in 1917. The other was The Innocents which many consider to be another "pot boiler" of a novel. "Pot boiler" is the modern equivilant of "pulp fiction" or "mass market fiction." The Job is a serious novel.

"The Job" takes place over a decade from 1905-1915. In this novel the hero is actually a heroine: Miss Una Golden. In 1905 she is 24 yrs. old and lives in the town of Panama, Pennsylvania.

The rest of the story over those ten years is about Una's determination to find a good, romantic man to fall in love with while also making a career for herself in business, considered a "man's job."

Walter Babson is an early suitor who appears like a good man. However, there is another man who appears, a widower named Edward Schwirtz who is a smooh talking salesman. In a bad decision, she marries him. The next couple years are unhappy and finally she divorces him.

The novel focuses a lot on the issues of exploited workers, particularly women workers. This time period the question really is work vs. marriage since it was deeply frowned upon for a woman to do both.

It is difficult for working women to find a mate because there is a stigma attached to working, part of the reason that Una makes a bad decision to marry the wrong man.

But along the way, she meets very influential women, and Una proves to be a smart, capable woman who finds her way in a male dominated world. Despite a lot of darkness, this book ends up with a deus ex machina happy ending in the last few pages.

The first man she really had any interest in, Walter Babson, turns up again and the ending pages cause the reader to believe that they will make there future together, both with jobs, and hoping to have children.

This book was very controversial during its time, pushing women's rights, dealing with anti-Semetism, and this novel was daring enough to mention alcoholism, venereal disease, divorce, adoption by a single women, and women who drink and smoke. Through out dealing with all this, the main heroine, Una, still remains a proper Victorian lady.

This is an interesting work, an is considered by many to be the first of three novels written by Sinclair Lewis that strongly pushes the rights of the working woman.

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Sinclair Lewis & Antique Novels

Links to useful information on Sinclair Lewis and his novels, including places to buy the now collectible works.

Reprints of the most popular Sinclair Lewis novels

Lewis's writing style is simple enough to make a popular, as well as academic, comeback.

Loosely Related Links

If you have an original copy of "The Job," then that's a pretty darn good find for a beginning Book hound. If Lewis encourages you to write, then check out this page on how to be a writer.

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