The lonely predicament of Carol Kennicott, caught between her desires for social reform and individual happiness, reflects the position in which America's turn-of-the-century "emancipated woman" found herself. Published in 1920, Main Street was Sinclair Lewis' first really successful novel. An allegory of exile and return, Main Street attacks the complacency and ingrown mores of those who resist change, who are under the illusion that they have chosen their tradition. Maxwell Geismar lauded this work as "a remarkable diary of the middle-class mind in America".More
We've sent an email with your order details. Order ID #:
To access this title, visit your library in the app or on the desktop website.
Small town, small minds, big book
The descriptions of Gopher Prarie, Minnesota, are as apt today as they were almost 100 years ago. Lewis alternately loves and loathes the town, where an outsider is anyone who wasn't born and raised in the town.
The treatment and scorn of minorities by the town could be Arizona today, except that in Gopher Prairie, the hated immigrants taking the worst jobs and struggling to find a better future for their children are Swedish immigrants.
Carol, the idealistic wife of one of the town doctors imported from the big city, finds solace in her friendships with her maids. The town disapproves, and she is shocked to find, talks about her behind her back.
At the same time, the sins of her husband, are never revealed to her.
The story was unexpectedly bleak, and I realized it couldn't have been written today. In the 1920's, women mostly didn't work outside of the home. There was no television, and if radio had come to Gopher Prarie, Lewis didn't mention it. The town spent its time watching its inhabitants, gossiping, and seeking a safe kind of education through traveling lectures. I was able to imagine what the lives of my Midwestern great grandparents were like.
The pace of the story was slow, but it was written in a much different time.
Mr. Emerson is an excellent narrator, and I will look for other performances. He tells the story without putting himself into it. Carol, who struggles against the status quo, is my favorite character.
- Cynthia "Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always.""
Time for a classic