Ann Vickersby Sinclair Lewis
Some reviewers were outraged by Ann Vickers when it first appeared in 1933. "Persons unused to horrid and filthy things had better stay at a safe distance from this book," wrote one. Lewis's Ann Vickers is a complex character: a strong-minded prison superintendent dedicated to enlightened social reform, she also seeks to fulfill herself as a sexual being. Ann… See more details below
Some reviewers were outraged by Ann Vickers when it first appeared in 1933. "Persons unused to horrid and filthy things had better stay at a safe distance from this book," wrote one. Lewis's Ann Vickers is a complex character: a strong-minded prison superintendent dedicated to enlightened social reform, she also seeks to fulfill herself as a sexual being. Ann Vickers is in all respects her own person, standing up to the confining rules of her society.
- University of Nebraska Press
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- 5.35(w) x 7.99(h) x 1.33(d)
Meet the Author
This controversial novel by Nobel-Prize winner Sinclair Lewis tarries a new introduction by Nan Bauer Maglin, a professor of English at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY. She is, with Nancy Schniedewind, the editor of Women and Stepfamilies: Voices of Anger and Love. Also available in Bison Book editions are two earlier novels by Lewis, Free Air (1993), and The Job (1994).
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The novel ANN VICKERS carries the heroine from birth in 1889 to her early 40s around 1933. She progresses from pre-pubescent tomboy, to a teen with a crush and through losing mother and father before college. Ann studies nursing, does graduate work in social work-related fields, is awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, publishes a book on 'Vocational Training in Women's Reformatories' and becomes a columnist with a national following. *** Ann Vickers also becomes an envelope stuffing suffragist, spends time in jail, works in settlement houses and women's prisons, including one particularly nasty one (Copperhead Gap) in the mountains of the South. She moves in and out of private and state government civil service and appointive positions with increasing focus on women both in prison and as parolees. *** Her personal life is usually painfully subordinated to her passion to make the world a better place. She brushes off lesbian advances and is not sexually profligate , going 'all the way' with no more than three men. By the first she conceives what she concludes is an embryo daughter. A woman professor of medicine persuades Ann to be aborted for the greater good of humanity. For the rest of her life (after late 1917), Ann dreams of her lost girl, 'Pride,' and vows not to murder her a second time. She also ponders the rights of the unborn.She marries a gruff, earthy man also active in the world of philanthropy and social uplift but finds that choice a very bad mistake: for he smothers her emotionally and wants her to be little so that he can be big. Finally, Ann finds romantic love with an amiable rogue, a New York State supreme court judge. He very likely fathers her child, Matthew (Mat) before being convicted of taking favors on the bench and being sentenced to six years hard labor. He is pardoned a year later by the governor of New York (presumably Franklin D. Roosevelt). Ann, the judge and young Mat will defy conventions and make a joint life together thereafter. *** COMMENT: When I first read ANN VICKERS a few days ago I was dazzled and rated it FOUR STARS. Having now re-read the novel for this review I now rate the novel FIVE STARS and I expect to read it again more than once in years to come. Sinclair Lewis set out to write the story of a great woman, not without her flaws. In the novel several shrewd observers predict future greatness for Ann (e.g. 'the first woman ambassador'). Inherited home town and family values, erotic impulses and the desires to compete, achieve and do good all mingle and interact convincingly in the very American psyche of Ann Vickers. She is a doer, a manager: *** --'She had found nothing difficult in conducting an office, being punctual, giving directions to stenographers, imagining what her competitors would do -- all those occult rites whereby men become presidents, and bathtub manufacturers so princely that their biographies are printed in the magazines.' (Ch. 21, p.265) *** Ann Vickers also makes herself a craftsmanlike writer: *** --'There were in Ann's manner of writing no fines herbes, neither tarragon nor chervil. It was the honest corned-beef hash of literature. But she was so much in earnest, she labored so ceaselessly, that she impressed some scores of thousands from Bangor to San Jose, and certainly she did win that sure proof of achievement, the disapproval of her acquaintances.' (Ch. 47, p. 549f.) *** This is a long (562 pp.), detailed study of a slice of Americana at a time America was moving to world leadership. ANN VICKERS grabs you and will not let you go until you have read the last page. ***