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Small-town Minnesota boy Carl ?Hawk? Erickson is kicked out of school for defending a socialism-preaching teacher. Traveling around America in the 1910s, he falls in love?with the excitement of airplanes. After a career as a famous pilot, he faces the ultimate challenge: Can he settle down and get married?
Small-town Minnesota boy Carl “Hawk” Erickson is kicked out of school for defending a socialism-preaching teacher. Traveling around America in the 1910s, he falls in love—with the excitement of airplanes. After a career as a famous pilot, he faces the ultimate challenge: Can he settle down and get married?
Posted August 31, 2010
Sinclair Lewis held me spell bound. He understands human nature very well.
"The trail of the Hawk" was a good a "Babbitt." Both novels are worth the time spent reading them. They provide a view of the world of 1900 + and indicate to us how much moral, tougher and productive the U.S. was at that time period. They were not shipping jobs overseas but were producing products to be shipped overseas. What a difference 100 years makes in the life of a nation. That world was conservative even though Hawk fancied himself a socialist. That conservative world knew what personal responsibility really meant. Sinclair Lewis, even though a great author, was incorrect about the benefits and advantages of socialism to a future world. I won't hold it against him and am objective enough to appreciate his great talent as an author who continuously holds the interest of his audience. In my humble opinion he is a genius in story writing. What ever your politics I would recommend this book and Babbitt for your reading enjoyment and historical enlightenment of the United States during the early nineteen hundreds.
Posted May 17, 2005
Not only are there parallels between the thinking and careers of Sinclair Lewis and Rudyard Kipling but Lewis underlines them. Kipling was 20 years older, won his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907, 23 years before Lewis. In novel after novel Lewis mentions Kipling and often quotes or alludes to him. *** Sinclair Lewis closes his 1915 novel THE TRAIL OF THE HAWK by invoking Kipling's poem 'L'Envoi,' itself a traditional metric way of summing up a prose work, 'The Lord knows what we may find, dear lass, And the deuce knows what we may do-- But we're back once more on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail, We're down, hull down on the Old Trail--the trail that is always new.' *** With Kipling lodged in his imagination, Lewis tells of Norwegian American Carl Ericson, born in the same year as Lewis, 1885. When he was eight years old in Joralemon, Minnesota, Carl ran off on impulse into a cold night with Gertrude ('Gertie') Cowles, three years his senior. Again and again he will run off somewhere new. Occasionally he will long for a return to Joralemon. Years later Lewis's novel ELMER GANTRY will begin, 'Elmer Gantry was drunk.' The tamer TRAIL OF THE HAWK begins, 'Carl Ericson was being naughty.' *** Where does his naughtiness get Ericson? Does it give him the drive to transcend his boring small town origins? Or is it the local ice-fishing agnostic philosopher Bone Stillman who convinces Carl (Ch. V) that there is always something ahead on the trail that is bigger and you must either never stop until you find it or 'till you can't follow the road any more?' At tiny, second-rate Plato College Carl is attracted 'upwards' by a book-loving fellow-student and a radical professor. Along the way Carl discovers a talent for vehicles and design: automobiles and gliders. *** Carl defies entrenched authority at Plato and is dismissed for standing up for the radical Professor Frazer who says good things about socialism and evolution. For many, many months Carl wanders from place to place, job to job. He does some acting. Works as a bartender in New York City. Steams down to Panama. In that 1907 tropical paradise sought for all he life he meets international adventurers who casually 'drawled about strange things which make a man discontented and bring him no good' (Ch. XVI). Carl then wanders through Mexico to California in 1909 where the desire to be a pioneer aviator obsesses him. His first solo at the Bagby flight school is so spectacular that a local Oakland reporter dubs him 'Ericson, the New Hawk of the Birdmen' (Ch. XVIII). For a few years he makes a sensational career in racing and air shows as 'Hawk Ericson' until his luck runs out and he crashes. *** The crash makes Hawk cautious and careful. He seeks a new trail combining both 'the adventure of business' (as an early designer of a recreational vehicle for an automobile manufacturer) and something entirely new which transcends humdrum routine, 'the adventure of love.' Repeatedly, he seeks a female 'playmate.' He oscillates between his childhood friend Gertie and newly found, in New York City, Ruth Winslow. *** Playmates play together, are good for each other. They sparkle in conversation. They long together for adventures and travel. Gertie will never run away and play with Hawk. Yet Hawk knows that he must run and soon (Ch. XXX), 'like the guy in Kipling that always got sick of reading the same page too long.' Gertie will not even go for long walks in the snow. But Ruth will. Ruth understands Hawk (Ch. XXXIII). 'All his life he had been seeking a girl who would, without apologetic explanation, begin a story with herself and him for its characters.' *** But even the best of playmates quarrel and Hawk is drawn back in spirit to Joralemon,, Minnesota and to Gertie. For Ruth's family seems too aristocraticWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 23, 2010
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Posted February 11, 2011
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