Main Street [NOOK Book]

Overview

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis satirises the American romanticising of small town life. When Carol Milford marries Dr. Will Kennicott, she agrees to leave her bustling metropolitan life and relocate to his small hometown. However, she is soon horrified by the smugly conservative and often backwards attitudes in Gopher Prairie, Minnesota. A witty and humorous battle between small town gossips and a fiercely independent young woman, Main Street was a massive success when it was published in 1920 and was cited by the...

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Main Street

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Overview

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis satirises the American romanticising of small town life. When Carol Milford marries Dr. Will Kennicott, she agrees to leave her bustling metropolitan life and relocate to his small hometown. However, she is soon horrified by the smugly conservative and often backwards attitudes in Gopher Prairie, Minnesota. A witty and humorous battle between small town gossips and a fiercely independent young woman, Main Street was a massive success when it was published in 1920 and was cited by the jury when Lewis was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930, the first American to ever be honoured with the award.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781927854419
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
  • Publication date: 10/29/2013
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 450
  • Sales rank: 240,224
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Nobel Prize-winning writer Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) is best known for novels like Main Street, Babbitt, Arrowsmith (for which he was awarded but declined the Pulitzer Prize), and Elmer Gantry. A writer from his youth, Lewis wrote for and edited the Yale Literary Magazine while a student, and started his literary career writing popular stories for magazines and selling plots to other writers like Jack London. Lewis’s talent for description and creating unique characters won him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1930, making him the first American writer to win the prestigious award. Considered to be one of the “greats” of American literature, Lewis was honoured with a Great Americans series postage stamp, and his work has been adapted for both stage and screen.

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Read an Excerpt

On a hill by the Mississippi where Chippewas camped two generations ago, a girl stood in relief against the cornflower blue of Northern sky. She saw no Indians now; she saw flour-mills and the blinking windows of skyscrapers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Nor was she thinking of squaws and portages, and the Yankee fur-traders whose shadows were all about her. She was meditating upon walnut fudge, the plays of Brieux, the reasons why heels run over, and the fact that the chemistry instructor had stared at the new coiffure which concealed her ears.
A breeze which had crossed a thousand miles of wheatlands bellied her taffeta skirt in a line so graceful, so full of animation and moving beauty, that the heart of a chance watcher on the lower road tightened to wistfulness over her quality of suspended freedom. She lifted her arms, she leaned back against the wind, her skirt dipped and flared, a lock blew wild. A girl on a hilltop; credulous, plastic, young; drinking the air as she longed to drink life. The eternal aching comedy of expectant youth.

It is Carol Milford, fleeing for an hour from Blodgett College.
The days of pioneering, of lassies in sunbonnets, and bears killed with axes in piney clearings, are deader now than Camelot; and a rebellious girl is the spirit of that bewildered empire called the American Middlewest.


II

Blodgett College is on the edge of Minneapolis. It is a bulwark of sound religion. It is still combating the recent heresies of Voltaire, Darwin, and Robert Ingersoll. Pious families in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, the Dakotas send their children thither, and Blodgett protects them from the wickedness of the universities. But it secretesfriendly girls, young men who sing, and one lady instructress who really likes Milton and Carlyle. So the four years which Carol spent at Blodgett were not altogether wasted. The smallness of the school, the fewness of rivals, permitted her to experiment with her perilous versatility. She played tennis, gave chafing-dish parties, took a graduate seminar in the drama, went 'twosing,' and joined half a dozen societies for the practise of the arts or the tense stalking of a thing called General Culture.

In her class there were two or three prettier girls but none more eager. She was noticeable equally in the classroom grind and at dances, though out of the three hundred students of Blodgett, scores recited more accurately and dozens Bostoned more smoothly. Every cell of her body was alive--thin wrists, quince-blossom skin, ingénue eyes, black hair.

The other girls in her dormitory marveled at the slightness of her body when they saw her in sheer negligée, or darting out wet from a shower-bath. She seemed then but half as large as they had supposed; a fragile child who must be cloaked with understanding kindness. 'Psychic,' the girls whispered, and 'spiritual.' Yet so radioactive were her nerves, so adventurous her trust in rather vaguely conceived sweetness and light, that she was more energetic than any of the hulking young women who, with calves bulging in heavy-ribbed woolen stockings beneath decorous blue serge bloomers, thuddingly galloped across the floor of the 'gym' in practice for the Blodgett Ladies' Basket-Ball Team.

Even when she was tired her dark eyes were observant. She did not yet know the immense ability of the world to be casually cruel and proudly dull, but if she should ever learn those dismaying powers, her eyes would never become sullen or heavy or rheumily amorous.

For all her enthusiasms, for all the fondness and the 'crushes' which she inspired, Carol'os acquaintances were shy of her. When she was most ardently singing hymns or planning deviltry she yet seemed gently aloof and critical. She was credulous, perhaps; a born heroworshipper; yet she did question and examine unceasingly. Whatever she might become she would never be static.

Her versatility ensnared her. By turns she hoped to discover that she had an unusual voice, a talent for the piano, the ability to act, to write, to manage organizations. Always she was disappointed, but always she effervesced anew--over the Student Volunteers, who intended to become missionaries, over painting scenery for the dramatic club, over soliciting advertisements for the college magazine.

She was on the peak that Sunday afternoon when she played in chapel. Out of the dusk her violin took up the organ theme, and the candle-light revealed her in a straight golden frock, her arm arched to the bow, her lips serious. Every man fell in love then with religion and Carol.

Throughout Senior year she anxiously related all her experiments and partial successes to a career. Daily, on the library steps or in the hall of the Main Building, the co-eds talked of 'What shall we do when we finish college?' Even the girls who knew that they were going to be married pretended to be considering important business positions; even they who knew that they would have to work hinted about fabulous suitors. As for Carol, she was an orphan; her only near relative was a vanilla-flavored sister married to an optician in St. Paul. She had used most of the money from her father's estate. She was not in love--that is, not often, nor ever long at a time. She would earn her living.

But how she was to earn it, how she was to conquer the world--almost entirely for the world's own good&m--she did not see. Most of the girls who were not betrothed meant to be teachers. Of these there were two sorts: careless young women who admitted that they intended to leave the 'beastly classroom and grubby children' the minute they had a chance to marry; and studious, sometimes bulbous-browed and pop-eyed maidens who at class prayer-meetings requested God to 'guide their feet along the paths of greatest usefulness.' Neither sort tempted Carol. The former seemed insincere (a favorite word of hers at this era). The earnest virgins were, she fancied, as likely to do harm as to do good by their faith in the value of parsing Caesar.

At various times during Senior year Carol finally decided upon studying law, writing motion-pictures scenarios, professional nursing, and marrying an unidentified hero.

Then she found a hobby in sociology.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 436 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(284)

4 Star

(65)

3 Star

(29)

2 Star

(16)

1 Star

(42)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 438 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 27, 2010

    Horrible edition! Do not select this edition!

    Full of typos, errors, starting on the copyright page. A complete disaster of an edition.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2011

    DON'T READ!!!!

    This book was a waist of my life. It is about a girl who wants to live in the city, but marries a small town doctor. She moves to the small town and everybody hates her and she thinks she is better than them because she is from the city. Then, when people start to like her, she has an affair then people hate her. After she moves to the city and her husband comes and takes her back the the small town.

    5 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2005

    Small Towns Can Be Depressing

    In 1905, 37 year old lawyer Paul Percy Harris created the Rotary Club of Chicago and launched the Service Club movement. His explicit goal was to transplant to huge, cut-throat, impersonal, low- standard Chicago the best features of friendly, uplifting, prospering, moral Wallingford, Vermont (population 1,000) where Harris had grown up. In 1920 appeared MAIN STREET, a novel by 35 year old Harry Sinclair Lewis. The novel's most obvious goal was to alert America to the negative, under-achieving, soul-shrinking aspects of small towns, particularly of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota (population 7,000). *** Trailing glorious memories of Judge Milford, her wise father and of her childhood home in Mankato, Minnesota, Carol Milford married a man a dozen years her senior, Will Kennicott, M.D., and moved with him to Gopher Prairie. Her father, who died when Carol was a teen, was a Massachusetts man, 'smiling and shabby, ... learned and teasingly kind.' And Mankato 'is not a prairie town, but in its garden-sheltered streets and aisles of elms is white and green New England reborn' (MAIN STREET, Ch. I) In college the orphaned Carol had discovered a dreamy bent for sociology and town-planning. These experiences she brought to her wedding and to her move from St. Paul where she worked as a librarian to Gopher Prairie, population 7,000. The mixture of past, present and future proved unstable in Carol Kennicott. *** Will Kennicott was not the intellectual that Carol Milford Kennicott's father had been. Will was a plodding, ordinary, hard-working country doctor. The most intellectually daring thing he ever did was to admire volatile, questing Carol and persuade her to marry him. Gopher Prairie was no transplanted Athens (as Carol remembered Mankato). And Gopher Prairie and its Main Street, representing thousands of similar American small towns, were unplanned, ugly, dirty, uncultured and a parasite on surrounding rural areas and farmers. Carol Kennicott set out to reform husband, town and 'denizens.' She played an idealistic, reforming Mary to her friend Vida Sherwin's more practical Martha. Carol sought to transform the village's architecture, school, and culture and create a sense of civic solidarity among its wealthier leaders. Her blitzkriegs all failed in the short run. But behind the scenes, with an eye to the long haul, over the years Vida Sherwin patiently won a new school. *** Meanwhile, the Kennicott marriage was neither a partnership in which husband and wife pooled resources behind the same profession nor a happy home built around a burgeoning nursery. Doctor Will retained an all male coterie of duck- hunting, tobacco-spitting friends, notably the merchant Sam Clark, 'dealer in hardware, sporting goods, cream separators and almost every kind of heavy junk you can think of' (Ch. III). The closest Carol was permitted to that circle was when Will bade her serve them food and drink on poker nights. *** Towards novel's end, yearning for freedom, a job, intellectual stimulus and romance, Carol took her three year old son off to Washington, DC in October 1918, a month before the end of World War One. There she experienced both the excitement of socializing with richly experienced, creative adults as well as the dullness of a Government office job. After a taste of strikers and the women's suffrage leaders, a more realistic Carol returned to husband, Gopher Prairie and Main Street. *** Sinclair Lewis went on to write BABBITT and other books mocking the transplanted devotion to small towns created by Rotary, Boosters, Kiwanis and other men's organizations. The duel goes on to this day, with idealized Mankato, Minnesota and Wallingord, Vermont rebuking a spirit-crushing Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, and between Paul Percy Harris and Harry SInclair Lewis. *** -OOO-

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2012

    Influential Historical Fiction

    Main Street is a historical book from the early part of 1900 that definitely still applies to today. Reading about the significance it had on main stream society is amazing.
    There is a massive amount of detail and specificity in this book, almost to a fault. Lewis' descriptions of stores and locations as well as some meaningless conversations that take place seem a bit unnecessary at times.
    As far as character development and interaction, this book is top notch. I felt really connected to Carol, the main character, throughout her struggles toward improving the small town in which she resides. It was a bit disheartening to realize the parallels the author makes toward having aspirations to achieve great things, only to have to succumb to society norms and paths already in place.
    The many other personalities in the town are stereotypical people of all types that are still encountered today. I feel that many of the characters are in my sub-conscience as well when I am making decisions.
    Overall, the reason I gave this book three stars is because, even though I felt very connected with the main character and enjoyed the read, it was a very slow paced book that did not really have much of a plot besides the failed aspirations of the main character. It was a lot of "I want the world to be like this", "You can't tell me I can't have it this way", "You're right, it won't be this way". I recommend this book to someone who wants to read about historically significant fiction, but be forewarned that the story line will be a slow one.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2005

    As valid today as it was 80 years ago.

    A fasinating read. The frustrations of those ordinary people of 4 generations ago rings true today.Carol Kennicott is an educated young lady who faces the tedious agony of everyday life in Gopher Prairie Minn.She struggles with the driving desire to impact the world in a significant way or accepting her current safe but impossibly unrewarding life as wife and mother.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2003

    A forgotten American classic

    Greetings! Sinclair Lewis is one of the most under-rated American authors of the 20th century.He was a keen observer of middle America,life in the heartland.He was of Norwegin birth,and understood neighboring Sweden's military role in history.He is one of two dozen writers ,who knew the real story of the Lindbergh kidnapping.Harold Olson was the real Charles Lindbergh Jr.--I would highly recommend any of Lewis' great works, such as Babbit and Arrowsmith.Enjoy!from Mike McKenna.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012

    A great novel. One of my favorites. Sinclair Lewis is a fantasti

    A great novel. One of my favorites. Sinclair Lewis is a fantastic writer. My version is typo free. I got the version published by Philtre Libre.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2014

    AHHHH! FROOOOOST! WHO JUST MESSAGED YOU THAT ADORABLE POEM? *tac

    AHHHH! FROOOOOST! WHO JUST MESSAGED YOU THAT ADORABLE POEM? *tackles* I'm so happy for you, love! I wish you two the best! ;D
    You best not forget about me, though, Frosty! IMMA WATCHIN' YEW!
    xD

    -Midnight

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2002

    Being smothered by small town life

    Sinclair Lewis' first novel is an eyeopener to life in a small mid-Western town during the first two decades of the 20th century. Reading this book 82 years after it was first published made me realize how lucky I am to have been born during the last half of the 20th century and have grown up in and continue to live in urban areas (and enjoy the anonymity they offer). I sympathized with Carol Kennicott's dismay at being stuck in Gopher Prairie and at her unending efforts to sophisticate the town. Unfortunately, she was up against the narrow-mindedness and gossipy nature of its citizenry, the lack of support from her contemporaries, and the general cultural emptiness of Gopher Prairie. Lewis weaves a tale of frustration and disappointment for Carol and the handful of characters, who like her, really don't belong. The 'good citizens' of Gopher Prairie are smug and insensitive as they look down on the immigrant farmers and laborers who do the real work in the community. The 'I got mine and to hell with you' attitude is amazing from those who believe they are charitable because they roll bandages during WWI while ignoring what's going on around them in their own town. But then as long as their pockets are being stuffed through the efforts of others, who cares? Main Street is a good read but full of some of the most irritating characters you'll ever come across in a novel. This novel is a good choice for book groups because it provokes a lot of conversation. I suggested it to mine and it did just that.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2014

    Dr. Whooves

    Hello eveeyone

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2014

    Ss

    Heyo trots in i wanna fight please

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2014

    *narrows her eyes in anger* HOW. DARE. HE?! THE STUPID BI.TCH! A

    *narrows her eyes in anger* HOW. DARE. HE?! THE STUPID BI.TCH! Are you kidding me??!! *she trots around, seething* Uggggh, when he gets here! Hey, Frost, I can't stay long. I STILL don't have my nook. I'm using my computer. And everytime I wanna talk to you guys, I have to make another email. I have, like, 10 emails now. I gotta do it at least once a week, kay?? n.n

    -Midnight
    ((Nitro, if your reading this, just know that I hate you. And hate is a pretty strong word, coming for me. The Queen of no Hating.))

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2014

    Stupid computer. *mumbles quietly to herself* Heey, everypony!!

    Stupid computer. *mumbles quietly to herself* Heey, everypony!! *looks down at Frost* Whaaaaat? Waa happened??
     o0o

    -Midnight

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2014

    Very good

    Liked iit

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2014

    watsky

    *picks up the video message*

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2014

    Stormdust

    Telaports to the cloud and sighs

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2014

    Stormdust to Nitro

    Didnt work. I was trying to search you. Didnt come up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2014

    &beta&kappa

    Kind of.l.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2014

    Firework to both

    "Shut up." I say bitterly and my left eye turns red too. I look at the ground then close my eyes tightly and tears stream from them. "Why don't you just be nice to eachother. I've been through probably more than you guys have gone through and I've seen many people leave because of somepony being mean to somepony else. And I don't wanna lose you! I've come to love the ponies that rp here (like a family...) and don't wanna see anyone leave. So please, just work it out. Just, please. I don't care if he's a dipsh<_>it or if she's a frost bucket just WORK IT OUT"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2014

    Firework

    "Autumn begins at 10:29 PM Eastern Time tonight! Squee! :3"

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