Sinclair Lewis Novels and Antique Books
Sinclair Lewis: The Forgotten American Bard
This lens is about a great American author, Sinclair Lewis. Although not recognized today, he was a great American author who bridged the gap between Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway, and was one of John Steinbeck's greatest influences. After the success of his first book, Main Street, he was forced to spend the rest of his life away from his home city, because of the literally dozens of death threats from people portrayed by fictional characters in his work. Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Sinclair Lewis were the large literary voices of their time.
It's amazing he's been forgotten by so many, since he was the very FIRST American writer to win the Nobel Prize for literature, and the only one to turn down the Pulitzer. The life of Sinclair Lewis is an interesting one, and makes for a great read in and of itself. Enjoy!
Makes sense to look for an author here - Great deals
Sinclair Lewis novels are still re-printed over and over to this day.
Considered Sinclair Lewis's last great work, "It Can't Happen Here" shows the fear of how Fascism can crawl in and take over the United States. A frighteningly prophetic work.
"Main Street" is the novel that put Sinclair Lewis on the map, and is one of the first looks at the dark underside of American communities.
Considered by many to be his finest novel, Babbitt was also an instant hit, and guaranteed Sinclair Lewis's place in literary history.
Along with "Main Street" and "Babbitt," "Arrowsmith" was considered one of the three great novels by Lewis, and is the one which was awarded the Pulitizer Prize for fiction, which he declined.
Sinclair Lewis: The First Great 20th Century American Author
Almost forgotten, once wrote one of the best selling books in history.
Sinclair Lewis was one of the great American authors. He was actually the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was nominated for the Pulitizer Prize a remarkable three times, for his novels Main Street, Babbitt, and Arrowsmith. He won it with Arrowsmith, but actually refused the award. He said the Pulitizer was for literature that celebrated America, and that his work was too dark and did not do so.
Sinclair Lewis was born in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, in 1885. He traveled widely and was interested in many different aspects of American society, and explored themes like business, religion, and small town life in his works, which would inspire another great author, John Steinbeck.
He wrote about the corruption behind seemingly moral exteriors, often wrote about religious men who fell because they coulndn't be what their religion demanded of them, and his chilling novel It Can't Happen Here was a sharp response to the smug arrogance of American belief that totalitarianism and facism could never take root in America. That book is amazingly prophetic of today's political debates and problems.
After writing Main Street which was a runaway best seller that had to print over 20 editions in less than a year, he could never return home, as his unflinching look at small town America resulted in many of the people he grew up with threatening his life.
John Steinbeck refers to this sad event in his travel memoir: Travels With Charley, where he muses how Lewis could never go home, but the sign outside of Sauk Centre brags about being Lewis's birthplace, and a mere decade after his death, many of the younger townspeople didn't even know who Lewis was.
Lewis was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in Rome in 1951, but his work is experiencing a popular resurgance in the academic world, introducing a new generation of readers to this nearly forgotten great who love not only the work of Sinclair Lewis, but find the life of Sinclair Lewis just as interesting.
Deciding Sinclair Lewis's Best
What was Sinclair Lewis's best novel?
It Can't Happen Here---Or Can It?
Sinclair Lewis's prophetic warning,well before Orwell's 1984
It Can't Happen Here was a stunning book written by Sinclair Lewis in 1935. It is a fictional account of an easy going Southern President who climbs to power by bashing the liberal media, unfocused intellectuals, and constantly proclaiming himself as a "common man" while only speaking in vague euphimisms like "freedom," "liberty," and "independent."
Sound familiar? It gets even eerier when I mention he stacks the Supreme Court with obscure judges he's on a first name basis, gives high ranking positions to personal buddies, re-draws political districts, puts big business in charge with massive deregulation, consolidates the media under a few rich buddies, and fills newspaper with Hollywood gossip while quietly killing any stories critical of the government.
This was written in 1935, and took an author's view on facism and how vulnerable America was to falling to the same--especially because Americans were so convinced of their moral superiority and how impossible it was for democracy to die here.
Sinclair Lewis "It Can't Happen Here" is a great read that holds up as more relevant today than ever, and shows the amazing foresight and fears of one of the original greats among American authors, and Sinclair Lewis certainly adds his name to the many "prophetic" dystopian authors with this work..
Why is Old Better Than New?
It's not just about an antique book's cash value
The rarest of the Sinclair Lewis novels, such as Hike and his Aeroplane, The Innocents, and The Trail of the Hawk are still almost never seen on sites such as Amazon or eBay, and they retain really strong cash values.
Other first edition Sinclair Lewis novels such as Main Street, Arrowsmith, and The God Seeker are much easier to find. Some can be had cheaply. Many of these first editions are not in optimal condition, the kind that collectors and book hounds alike covet, but they are in good readable condition.
To me, why should I spend $13 on a re-print cheap paperback when I can spend $4-7 for a hardcover first edition? Even if that first edition isn't worth much, it's worth more than the paperback, and I really do think there's something to be said about appreciating a book from its original form.
The feel, the smell, the appearance of old paper, and being able to look at "Copyright 1936, First Printing" on a novel is just awesome. I know when I can choose between the two, I'll go with the older book with character over the mass market reprint...and to get the antique cheaper?
What a steal!
There are many places to find antique copies of Sinclair Lewis novels.
Complete List of Sinclair Lewis Novels
A surprisingly hard list to find
As a note: this list deals with the novels of Sinclair Lewis, not short story collections. The novel with an asterisk on this list may look funny, but it was technically written by Sinclair Lewis.
Tennis as I Play It by Maurice E McLoughlin was actually ghost written by Sinclair Lewis, and is now considered a valuable collectible antique book. The rest of these novels were indeed credited to the famous American author and early 20th century icon.
So here's the Sinclair Lewis list of books.
The Early Works
1912: Hike and the Aeroplane
1914: Our Mr. Wren
1919: Free Air
Coming into Fame
1920: Main Street (This was truly Sinclair Lewis's break out novel)
1927: Elmer Gantry
1933: Ann Vickers
1934: Work of Art
1935: It Can't Happen Here
1938: The Prodigal Parents
1940: Bethel Merriday
1943: Gideon Planish
1945: Cass Timberlane
1947: Kingsblood Royal
1949: The Godseeker
Last Work, printed the year he died
1951: World So Wide
All of the books listed in the first section are valuable antiques. In good condition, many of them can go for hundreds of dollars. I currently own one copy of The Trail of the Hawk, and used to own a copy of The Innocents, though I found a buyer for that one.
All of these books are collectible, though the more modern ones may be in the $30-$60 range while a copy of Hike, with a dust jacket (less than fifty are known to exist) goes for over $12,000.
The best place to find the really collectable and valuable first editions is either eBay, Abebooks, or Biblio.com.
A Sinclair Lewis First Edition Was My Best Find
As a book hound, a Lewis book was still my finest find
You may have heard of the term "book hounds." These are individuals who are experienced in tracking down and identifying rare antique books and buying the low to get a good deal when they re-sell them.
I'm an amateur, which to some extent I think is true of all book hounds because there is so much to know, but the best find I ever made was a copy of The Innocents,first edition by Sinclair Lewis.
I bought the book for only $50, and ended up selling it to a collector for around $775. That 1,500%+ profit definitely is tops. I also have a copy of The Trail of the Hawk which I bought for $55 off of eBay, and could turn it for $350, but admittedly I am a Sinclair Lewis fan and will probably keep this copy for myself :)
Part of what I love about antique books is that history and literature collide. These are two of my favorite fields, and to see a pre World War II or pre World War I world is fascinating to me. To have a book about meeting a President that was a big deal, it shows a different time, and words such as "aeroplane" or "moving pictures show" just really make me smile.
It's a hobby I love--and it gives me an excuse to stop at every flea market, garage sale, and estate auction I come across. Not a bad deal at all :)
You Can Find First Editions Here - Usually not the real rare ones, but good reading copies.
Almost every Sinclair Lewis novel is collectible, and many first editions are not overly valuable on eBay, but I love reading a first edition, and many you can get cheaper than a modern paper back.
There's Still Only One: Sinclair Lewis Biography
The life of Sinclair Lewis, amazing and tragic
Sinclair Lewis was an American novelist, short story writer, playwright, and social critic who gained massive popularity with satirical novels and was a giant among early American literary figures. Sinclair Lewis won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930. He was the first American to win the prize, clearing the way for later winners such as Eugene O'Neill, T.S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and John Steinbeck.
Sinclair Lewis often satirized, and even outright criticized large parts of the American way of living, but he loved his country and his hometown. Though he was quick to criticize hypocrisy and injustice, Lewis's basic outlook of the "American human comedy" was optimistic and hopeful.
Harry Sinclair Lewis was born in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, the third son of a country doctor. His mother, who was the daughter of a Canadian physician, died of tuberculosis when Lewis was only six years old.
His father remarried a woman named Isabel Warner only a year later, and they got along great. Lewis considered her his own mother. Later Lewis would characterize Sauk Center as "narrow-minded and socially provincial" and he sought out books as a way of escape. At home he had access to the three or four hundred volumes, not including medical books, from his father's library.
Lewis's early life was made miserable by teasing. At the age of 13 he ran away from home to become a drummer boy in the Spanish-American War, but his father caught him at the railroad station, and brought the boy home. Lewis started to write and keep a diary.
In 1902 Lewis entered the Oberlin Academy, but then moved to Yale University and started to contribute the Yale Literary Magazine. On one summer vacation Lewis traveled to England on a cattle boat and in another year, unhappy at college(in large part due to continued feelings of isolation and bullying from many of his Yale peers), he went to Panama in search of a job on the canal. Showing the same restlessness and adventure seeking that Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck would later be famous for.
Sinclair Lewis also worked as a janitor at Upton Sinclair's socialist commune: Helicon Hall (1906-07). For a period he tried to earn his living as a freelance writer in New York. During these times he would occasionally return to Yale, and it was there where he met the famous Jack London, and later he would sell the elder writer many short story plots.
Lewis finally received his M.A. in 1908, and worked for publishing houses and various magazines in Iowa, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and New York City. In Greenwich Village he associated occasionally with radicals such as John Reed and Floyd Dell. For a short time he was even a member of the Socialist Party.
Lewis's first published book was Hike and the Aeroplane, which was published in 1912 under the pseudonym Tom Graham. His next novel, Our Mr. Wrenn presented a hero who is innocent, naÃ¯ve, and who dreams of adventures. After travels abroad he returns to his normal idyllic life.
Similar characters and themes populate Lewis's further novels, along with equal rights for women's workers, the hypocrisy of preachers who didn't follow their own faith, and a general satire of American life.
In 1914 Lewis married Grace Livingston Hegger, an editor at Vogue. Their son, Wells, was named after the famous British author H.G. Wells. For the following two years he worked as an editor and advertising manager at the book publishing firm George H. Doran Company. In 1916 Lewis abandoned his job and traveled with his wife around the country in an early automobile.
After publishing two novels, Lewis devoted himself entirely to writing. His early novels didn't make enough for him to live off of alone, but he made good money on selling short stories to magazines, and found he had a talent for "fluff" stories that were popular in women's magazines.
He gained fame with the 1920 publication of Main Street, a study of idealism and reality in a narrow-minded small-town. It was said that "Main Street is the continuation of main streets everywhere." It meant cheap shops, ugly public buildings, and citizens who were bound by rigid conventions, especially in public.
Sinclair Lewis's Main Street was published in the late autumn and it became a best-seller at the Christmas rush. The Pulitzer Prize jury had voted for it, but the Columbia University trustees overturned their decision.
Instead they gave the prize instead to Edith Wharton for The Age of Innocence, a move that some believe had far more to do with Lewis's rejection of the Pulitzer for his later novel (Arrowsmith) than he ever let on.
Lewis's next novel, BABBITT (1922), was a merciless portrait of a Midwestern businessmen, and was also a huge success, widely considered (along with Main Street) to be one of his five greatest novels. His hometown, Zenith, is a version of Gopher Prairie, although Zenith is much bigger. The main character's attempt to live an "artistic" life fail, and he ends up conforming so deeply that the term "Babbittry" became slang for complete conformity and unthinking commercialism.
Arrowsmith would be published in 1925, and is considered perhaps his greatest work. This book follows life of Dr. Martin Arrowsmith, who is caught between his idealism and commercialism. The book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, which Lewis declined, citing that the Pulitzer's wording suggested a book meant to celebrate American wholesomeness, which his novels most certainly did not do. Others still argue that this decision was out of anger for the earlier overruling. He is still the only author to decline the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
While his work was critically hailed, there were many others who criticized Sinclair Lewis, arguing that writers shouldn't use their power to be so rebellious.
Lewis responded with the novel Elmer Gantry, printed in 1927, written with angry, sparkling style, was an all out attack on hypocritical ministers. The book added a swindler after an idealist and a businessman into Lewis's great portrayals of basic American characters.
In 1925 Lewis divorced from his first wife and married three years later Dorothy Thompson, a newspaper correspondent, with whom he traveled widely.
The success Sinclair Lewis found had a price, and it was at that time Lewis drank heavily, and managed to offend most of his friends. It seemed he was set on a self destructive course, maintaining a "world is against me" attitude that was rooted from his hard childhood.
During the 1930s Lewis devoted considerable attention to the theater. While he would write for another 15 years afterwards, many consider It Can't Happen Here from 1935 to be his last major work of any importance. This work was eerily prophetic in many ways, detailing exactly how a fascist coup could take place in the United States.
Lewis wrote a few later books that found solid audiences, but when his son Wells was killed in 1944 in World War II combat in France, that seemed to take the rest out of him. His heavy alcohol consumption increased and continued unabated. He never came back from Europe, and died from the effects of long term severe alcoholism on January 10, 1951. His last novel, World So Wide, was published posthumously.
Sinclair Lewis, Breaking Open Literature
Lewis had a lasting effect on American Literature
Sinclair Lewis had an enormous influence on American literature, and many of his works have influenced even widely different genres.
Some of his early work involves turn of the century technology changes, and how Lewis saw this affecting society. Free Air was written about a cross country road trip when paved roads didn't exist and automobiles were still fairly uncommon. Hike and the Aeroplane dealt with aviation a mere ten years after the Wright Brothers first successful flight.
In fact, Free Air, published in 1919, can be considered the first "open road" novel. This story takes place on a road trip from New York City to Seattle, and is a precursor for any 20th century travel literature. The beat movement, in particular, focused on travel much in the same way that Lewis did, where travel becomes central to events.
The Job, though an early book that has not gained popularity outside of antique book enthusiasts, is considered the earliest book favoring women's emancipation. This was the first of three books that Sinclair Lewis wrote that deal with issues of working women's rights, the other two being Ann Vickers and Main Street.
Sinclair Lewis turned down the Pulitzer, but accepted the Nobel Prize for literature. Arrowsmith was one of the first novels to challenge the concept of "The American Dream" and its early challenges of crooked religious leaders isa theme that returns in many of John Steinbeck's work. Steinbeck named Sinclair Lewis as his greatest influence, and comparing the two, the influence is obvious.
Sinclair Lewis also kept up the tradition of American writing that was not high languaged or overly fancy, but had dialogue that sounded the way people talked and used simple, easy to understand language to get across major points and themes.
Sinclair Lewis had a huge lasting effect on American literature, and whether modern day authors realize it or not, he helped clear the way for modern day writing and should be recognized for his contributions.
The Only Fiction Writer to Turn Down the Pulitzer
To this day, Sinclair Lewis still holds that distinction
In the entire history of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, only one author who was awarded the prize has ever turned it down. That author was Sinclair Lewis, and he won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his novel Arrowsmith.
Arrowsmith is often said to be Lewis's finest novel, which is stongly supported by the fact that he won the Pulitzer, though declined it. He gave his reason for declining it as being a result of the terms given for why the award was to be given.
The Pulitzer was said to be given for the "wholesome atmosphere of American life," and Lewis, the Satirist of Modern America, a man who stared unflinchingly at the hypocritical dark underside, was not about to accept such a potentially hypocritical award.
Nevertheless, Lewis was to go on and receive other honors and, in 1930, became the first American to win the Nobel Prize in literature. He has several fine novels to his credit, and was very prolific over the course of his career.
To this day, he is the only author to decline a Pulitzer.
Arrowsmith: The Novel that Denied a Pulitzer
Arrowsmith won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, which Sinclair Lewis refused to accept. His public statement said that the conditions of the Pulitzer were to award a novel that celebrated American culture and the American dream.
As a self declared satirist of both, Sinclair Lewis refused the Pulitzer, although many personal letters suggest he was still extremely bitter over earlier snubs, which may have had more to do with it than an altruistic point of honor.
Arrowsmith remains the only work awarded a Pulitzer Prize for fiction that was turned down. This controversial book helped cement Sincliar Lewis's legacy, and is still read and enjoyed even today, nearly 80 years later.
Antique Values of Early First Edition Sinclair Lewis Novels
The early novels of Sinclair Lewis all have value among book collectors. For the early novels, here are all pre Main Street novels and their values. Keep in mind that value can change over time, and in the end a book is worth as much as you can get someone to pay for it.
Hike and the Aeroplane This was written uunder the pen name Tom Graham and is the rarest of all Sinclair Lewis novels. Only 800 copies were originally printed, and it's estimated that less than 40 copies still exist today.
A copy without the dust jacket sells from around $2,000-$3,000 on a consistent basis. If you found one with a dust jacket (in theory, there are no unknown dust jackets out there) then the price jumps to $15,000-$20,000 or even more.
Our Mr. Wrenn was Lewis's second work, and 3,000 copies were originally printed. Without the ultra rare dust jacket, a normal first edition in very good condition sells for $300-$400. Pre-publication first editions are around the $300 mark, while a copy with the very rare dust jacket goes from $10,000-$15,000.
The Trail of the Hawk was printed in 1915 and 6,500 copies were made. Despite having more copies made, this is harder to find than Our Mr. Wrenn and a copy without a dust jacket sells for $400. With the dust jacket, a very good copy would be worth around $15,000.
The Job: An American Novel only 4,000 copies of this book were published. Copies in very good condition sell for around $300 without dust jackets, and for anywhere from $7,500-$10,000 in dust jacket.
The InnocentsSurprisingly hard to fnd, there were 4,000 copies of this novel, as well, but first drafts without dust jackets sell for around $700. With the rare dust jacket, it would be worth around $10,000-$15,000.
Many other sources have this book at $300 without a dust jacket, but the market is around $700, and the copy I sold two years ago went for $770, so for whatever reason that's the market price right now.
Free Air 11,000 copies were printed in 1919, and this was the last novel printed before he hit wide spread fame with Main Street. These are much more common, and without a dust jacket are worth about $100, while a dust jacket copy is worth around $5,000.
Our Mr. Wrenn, First Edition for Sale!
I'm so stoked. I just found a first edition, pre publicaton, version of Our Mr. Wrenn. As a rule I don't give prices until I've sold it, but it was a good find, I paid a decent amount, but low enough that I feel great about my chances of selling it for a decent profit.
What a find! This is the first Mr. Wrenn I've even run across, and I'm so stoked! I can't wait to see what price I can get for this great collectible, and worst case scenario, I wouldn't mind if it just found its way into my book shelf ;)
I don't have a link yet, so if anyone stumbles on this page and is interested, contact me through the "Contact Me" button in my bio. Otherwise, the rest of this page is on Lewis and antiques, not just a sales page (although there are spots to buy good first editions), so if you're interested, read on and leave any comments.
I've always loved seeing the early work of writers and how they grew: it makes me feel like we can definitely learn how to become a writer by paying attention.
PS: I also have a very good copy of The Trail of the Hawk first edition that I'm willing to take offers for, for those fellow book hounds out there.
More information on Sinclair Lewis - Several good sites
A quality collection of sites to learn more about Sinclair Lewis and his work.
A pretty decent biography on the famous American author.
- The Sinclair Lewis Society
A well put together series of pages on Sinclair Lewis.
- Great Blog
A very intelligent, well articulated blog about one man's experience as a college student discovering Sinclair Lewis, and of how his work still applies even today.
- Scarily Prophetic...
A great article about the 2005 re-release of the book It Can't Happen Here, a novel warning about America's slip into facism.
- Another place to buy books
A good site to buy antique Sinclair Lewis novels.
- Hike and the Aeroplane
A place to buy a first edition of an excellent Sinclair Lewis novel (the first published, under the pen name Tom Graham)
- A lens on Lewis's first novel
A lens focusing more specifically on Lewis's first novel, written under the pen name Tom Graham.
- Article on Sinclair Lewis
Article I wrote on Associated Content about Sinclair Lewis and his works
- Sincalir Lewis Quizzes
How much do you really know about the great American author?
- Upton Sinclair
In case you were actually looking for the author of "The Jungle" and confused Upton Sinclair with Sinclair Lewis.
- Become a Book Hound
A great page on how to go become an antique book collector, or "Book Hound."
Dodsworth: An Early Fictional Commentary on Marriage
Lewis noticed the institution of marriage coming apart earlier than most
Sinclair Lewis was an excellent American author, and Dodsworth is one of his finest novels and remains widely read even if it remains in the shadow of the big three. Even if this is not a book that any longer makes the required college reading list, it was a very popular work of fiction in his time, and it's important to remember that Sinclair Lewis was one of the giants of American literature, even if now he is overshadowed when looking back.
Samuel Dodsworth is the protagonist of Lewis's 1929 novel Dodsworth is a kindly man who is unlike many of the other main characters in Zenith, the ficitonal Midwestern city where many of Lewis's early novels take place.
Dodworth is 50, a big and kind man forced into retirement after selling his business who goes to Europe with his wife Frances, who has a large series of affairs. Dodsworth seems a clean and likable character, who knows this is going on, and is divorced in Austria when Frances thinks she'll marry an Austrian count.
However, old and with the count's mother refusing to marry them since she can't produce children, Frances goes back to Sam, who has spent several quiet weeks in Sicily, with Edith Cortwright, an Americn widow and expatriate whom Sam hits it off with.
The novel ends with Sam trying to reconcile with his wife, but then deciding on Edith...or maybe not. Sinclair Lewis leaves this novel open ended, leaving the reader wondering what exactly the end result is. Not only is it all about marriage falling apart, but also about the idea of the mid-life crisis not always being a fool's run for an identity, but sometimes an eye opening experience revealing the truth before it's "too late."
The novel was popular enough that it became a Broadway play that had a great running, and in 1936 this book was also made into a film that is still available to this day.
Find Sinclair Lewis's Dodsworth on Amazon - One of the earliest works challenging the institution of marriage
Another one of Sinclair Lewis's great works available from Amazon.com
So How Does Sinclair Lewis's Dodsworth End?
So it's the big question from anyone who read the book, often like how everyone argues over the book "Shane."
Does Dodsworth go back to his wife, or choose the expat?
YouTube Clip from the Movie Dodsworth
Fantastic clip from the 1936 movie "Dodsworth." Many of Sinclair Lewis's books were made into movies, and the film Dodsworth has some classic lines. I absolutely love the line: "Love has got to stop somewhere short of suicide." Amazing line.
Finding Dodsworth on eBay
You might even find a quality used first edition of Dodsworth by Sinclair Lewis for a high quality price.
The Man Who Knew Coolidge
A forgotten Sinclair Lewis novel
The Man Who Knew Coolidge by Sinclair Lewis is a great book that is often overshadowed by his other pivotal works. There are a few reasons for this. One part is because of the unfortunate timing since this novel followed the three books considered Lewis's classics: Babbitt, Main Street, and Arrowsmith. Another reason could be because politics in general and politicians specifically don't carry the weight and respect they used to. Then there's also the work itself as this is the Sinclair Lewis fictional novel that is known for its very unconventional monologues and tongue in cheek format. This also continues the Lewis pattern of defying literary convention by having a story that the reader doesn't really know if it's true or not by the end.
Lowell T. Schmaltz - The Man Who Knew Coolidge?
One of Lewis's most uniquely formatted novels
The Man Who Knew Coolidge is one of Sinclair Lewis's strangest novels, actually set up as a series of monologues by a town's local story teller, a Mr. Lowell T. Schmaltz who's biggest claim to fame is that he is an acquaintance of then President "Silent" Cal Coolidge back from his college days.
Schmaltz is a small businessman from the made up Midwestern town of Zenith, which is located in the also made up state of Winnemac. He is a business person who specializes in office supplies, but as a Kiwanian and business traveler, he is locally very well thought of, and sought after, as a speaker.
What is interesting is how Lewis uses narrative distance to show that Schmaltz actually is kind of an idiot, and the question rises by the end among readers on whether or not he really knew Coolidge at all. Sinclair Lewis was no stranger to narrative distance although at the time this was very unusual in American literature - but Lewis thrived on being a pioneer.
Releveant Titles from Amazon
This is a harder book to find than many of the others, but it is still out there if you're willing to look.
Why Did Sinclair Lewis Choose President "Silent" Cal Coolidge?
Why did Sinclair Lewis choose President Coolidge? There are several reasons why Cal Coolidge might have been a popular choice. For one, he was a fairly popular President, who really had the "he's one of us" thing going among voters. He was the only President born on the 4th of July, and even in his time there were many popular stories around "Silent" Cal Coolidge, who was known for actually being an exceptional speaker, but very quiet outside of those speeches.
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr., better known as "Silent" Cal Coolidge, was the 30th President of the United States, taking over after Warren Harding's death, and then getting elected for a term based on his own merit.
Coolidge was a Republican lawyer from Vermont, who got his political career going from neighboring Massachusetts. He climbed his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor.
Coolidge had the attention of several politicians due to his speaking abilities (making his nickname of "silent" all the funnier), but the actions he took during the Boston Police Strike of 1919, and his response (which was published in national papers) put him in the national limelight, and he was a surprise pick for Vice President for then Senator Warren G. Harding.
Coolidge was elected President in 1924, and he gained a reputation as a small-government conservative, which made him popular with the masses.
Coolidge was very popular because after the terrible scandals of President Harding, Coolidge restored public confidence in the White House, and left office as one of the more popular Presidents in anyone's memory.
It was as Harding's Vice President, however, that Coolidge would earn his famous nickname. He didn't have many official duties, but Harding invited Coolidge to attend cabinet meetins, making him the first VP who consistently did so.
As Vice President, Coolidge and his wife, Grace, a very social and vivacious woman, were invited to quite a few parties. While Coolidge was a great speaker, he wasn't much on small talk and so would attend parties and barley say a word. Thus "Silent Cal" was born.
The most famous story of this is about a woman at a dinner party who sat next to Coolidge at a dinner and said, "I've made a bet with a gentleman that I could get you to say more than two words."
Coolidge's famous reply was: "You lose."
As President, Coolidge defending his rare words by saying: "The words of a President have an enormous weight, and ought not to be used indiscriminately."
Coolidge was a popular President, who was still alive at a time when the Presidency was still seen as a position of prestige, making him a popular celebrity. In this way, The Man Who Knew Coolidge would be like a fiction writer who wrote a story about hanging out with Michael Jordan or Tom Hanks.
Cal Coolidge Books on eBay
Some great historical memorabilia can be found here, too.
Tennis As I Play It, Sinclair Lewis's Only Ghost Written Novel
Sinclair Lewis started from humble beginnings
Tennis As I Play It by Maurice E McLoughlin, is a novel about the then tennis champion of the United States. Published in 1915, this novel was ghost written by Sinclair Lewis, who was still struggling to put together a career as a novelist during those early stages. This shows just how possible it is for many great writers to start with very humble beginnings.
Tennis As I Play It, by a Famous Ghostwriter
When Sinclair Lewis was still struggling to make it
Maurice E. McLoughlin, nicknamed "The California Comet" was a champion tennis player in turn of the century America. After gaining a following in college for his surprisingly aggressive play (he would charge the ball instead of always letting it bounce, something that seems obvious in modern day tennis) he had a strong pro career.
Maurice McLoughlin was the US national singles champion back to back years in 1912 & 1913, and he was also the doubles champion 1912-1914 with T.C. Bundy. This book was to capitalize off the popularity of the young phenom, and at the time Sinclair Lewis was an author struggling to make ends meet, so he accepted the job ghost writing.
In fact, this is the main reason why this book remains collectible to this day. It is less valuable than other Sinclair Lewis works because it sold many more copies, since it was sold under the name of Maurice E McLoughlin, who was a sports legend of his time, while Sinclair Lewis would have to wait another several years before his novel Main Street would take off and make him a literary legend.
The first eition was printed by George H. Doran publishing company in 1915, and was illustrated with several black and white photos. Along with Free Air, this is the easiest of the pre-1920 Lewis novels to find, though a good copy is still worth over $100.
Sinclair Lewis from Amazon
Great works from Sinclair Lewis
Sinclair Lewis's Novel "Work of Art"
Lewis's Work of Art Summary - A Later Sinclair Lewis Novel
Work of Art by Sinclair Lewis was a good yarn that really focused on the attempt of building a lasting story by focusing on a family through three generations as they struggle to serve, succeed, and finally find peace in their roles. This wasn't the most common or more popular of Sinclair Lewis's works but it remains a solid late career work.
Sinclair Lewis often wrote about service, whether it was service to a family, a boss, a society, or something greater. These common theme is seen in many forms and in many lights throughout his works, and Work of Art is no exception.
"Work of Art" is a 1934 novel by Lewis that has strong currents of these themes while focusing on the world of hotels and hotel management.
In this Lewis book three generations of the Weagle family grow up in, and work for, boarding houses, inns, and hotels. The main narrative focus is on the two Weagle brothers Myron and Ora, both from the second generation.
Ora was a poetic dreamer who couldn't wait to escape what he saw as constant drudgery, yet he often found himself having to asking seemingly more content Myron for more money.
Myron stayed in the business and thought, learned, and breathed hotels. This dedication resulted in a steady career climb to national respect of early 20th century hotel managers. The downside to this is that Myron began to dream, then obsess, over the design of what would be the perfect inn or dream hotel, but he could never achieve this perfection.
Things looked good, but as more and more was expected of hotel managers, particularly at "oozing unfelt concern and friendship," Myron tumbled and eventually lost everything, never able to see service as a Metaphysical state of being and necessity as some others preached.
Myron rose and fell, and then eventually obsessed over service in a way that was so over the top as to be comically tragic. In this work Lewis is kind enough to spare his poor protagonist, who drives to a small town many states away and transforms it into the type of hotel that future travelers: car travelers, would want, bringing a peace and togetherness that he doesn't find at any other point in the story.
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