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View Diary: Krugman: "The Competition Myth" (292 comments)

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  •  we'll be just in time (15+ / 0-)

    to celebrate the centennial of calvin coolidge's presidency. the chief business of america, indeed.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 11:47:33 PM PST

    •  I'll be referring to Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt... (20+ / 0-)
      ...quite a bit in upcoming posts.

      From the Wiki link for Lewis: Sinclair Lewis

      Here's an excerpt on: "Babbit."

      ...Though written well before the Great Depression, the New Deal, World War II, and the post-war economic boom, Lewis's comic novel has remained popular into the 21st century. Critics have posed reasons for the book's continuing accessibility to include Lewis's seeming success in identifying and portraying emotions, challenges, and concerns that remain relatively viable over time, and with which modern readers -- especially white-collar workers and professionals, dissatisfied housewives, and middle-aged representatives of middle-class America -- seem to still easily identify. By the 1920s, the United States was already concluding the process described by historian Olivier Zunz as "making America corporate."[5] Thus, if the continued popularity of Lewis's characters is any indication, despite the many intervening, superficial advances and changes in technology, in Babbitt's fictional world one can still recognize much of today's, non-fiction one.

      In the characterization of the work Babbitt does for a living, Lewis implies a critique of capitalism. In the novel's opening chapter, we are told that Babbitt makes "nothing in particular, neither butter nor shoes nor poetry," but that he is "nimble in the calling of selling houses for more than people could afford to pay." Likewise, while he is home sick in bed, Babbitt, too, reflects on his career; he exclaims to himself that his work is "mechanical business -- a brisk selling of badly built houses."

      Historically significant is the author's use, throughout, of the political word "liberal." The book was written not long after the project of "new liberalism" began, and the term had not yet congealed in the United States as a definition of a specific brand of ideology belonging to centre left-wing politics. Babbitt's warped interpretation of the word, and his (and other characters') equally skewed practical application of it, are examples of one of the humorous literary devices in which Lewis uses satire to illustrate and simplify complex ideas...

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 12:10:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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