Sinclair Lewis

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Sinclair Lewis 1930

Harry Sinclair Lewis (born February 7, 1885 in Sauk Center , Minnesota , † January 10, 1951 in Rome ) was an American writer who became famous for his socially critical and satirical novels . In 1930 he was the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature .


Sinclair Lewis was born in Sauk Center, Minnesota, the son of a doctor. After graduating from Yale University , he worked at the socialist school founded by Jack London in New Jersey . After many trips through Europe, he first settled in New York as a journalist and translator , until he became the private secretary of Jack London. In 1912 he published his little-noticed novel Hyke and the Airplane . This was followed by Unser Herr Wrenn (1914), The Acquisition (1917), Hauptstrasse (1920) and finally his most important novels Babbitt (1922), Dr. med. Arrowsmith (1925) and Elmer Gantry (1927).

Sinclair Lewis made a special effort to accurately portray and criticize the American petty bourgeoisie and middle class, and to educate readers about the charlatanry in medicine and the humbug of some representatives of the American clergy . The relentless portrayal made him an unpopular but successful writer and earned him the nickname "The Dust Whirler".

Sinclair Lewis was recognized for his work Dr. med. Arrowsmith was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, but turned it down on the grounds that the dutiful Arrowsmith was an atypical doctor figure for America. In 1930, however, he was the first American to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature . The Nobel Prize Committee particularly emphasized the literary figure of Babbitt, which led to the decision for Lewis. In his Nobel Prize speech, Lewis referred to Thomas Wolfe, 15 years his junior, and his novel Look Homeward, Angel! down. In 1935 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters . He was a supporter of the America First Committee , an isolationist movement that sought to prevent the United States from participating in World War II in 1940/41 .

From 1914 to 1925, Sinclair Lewis was married to Grace Livingston Hegger. Their son Wells, born in 1917, whom he named after HG Wells, fell in France in 1944. Between 1928 and 1942 he was married to Dorothy Thompson , writer and journalist and founder of the "World Organization of Mothers of All Nations" ( WOMAN ). A son, Michael (1930–1975) emerged from the mutual connection. Sinclair Lewis died in Rome in 1951 as a result of his advanced alcoholism . A novel he was working on at the time remained unfinished.


Sinclair Lewis 1914
  • 1912: Hyke and the Airplane (under the pseudonym Tom Graham).
  • 1914: Our Mr. Wrenn (German EA Unser Herr Wrenn , translator Franz Fein, Rowohlt Verlag, Berlin 1931).
  • 1915: The Trail of the Hawk (German EA Falkenflug , translator Franz Fein, Rowohlt Verlag, Berlin 1933).
  • 1917: The Innocents
  • 1917: The Job (German: The Acquisition. Translator Clarisse Meitner, Zurich 1929).
  • 1919: Free Air (Eng. The petrol station. Translator Clarisse Meitner Zurich 1927).
  • 1920: Main Street (German EA Hauptstraße , translator Balder Olden, Volksverband der Bücherfreunde, Berlin 1922).
  • 1922: Babbitt (German EA Babbitt , translator Daisy Brody, Kurt Wolff Verlag, Munich 1924; newly translated by Bernhard Robben, Manesse Verlag, Munich 2017).
  • 1925: Dr. med. Arrowsmith (German EA Dr. med Arrowsmith , translator Daisy Brody, 2 volumes, Kurt Wolff Verlag, Munich 1925).
  • 1926: Mantrap (German EA Mantrap , translator Franz Fein, Rowohlt Verlag, Berlin 1928).
  • 1927: Elmer Gantry (German EA Elmer Gantry , translator Franz Fein, Rowohlt Verlag, Berlin 1928).
  • 1928: The Man Who Knew Coolidge (dt. EA The man who knew the president , translator Franz Fein, Rowohlt Verlag, Berlin 1929).
  • 1929: Dodsworth (German EA Sam Dodsworth , translator Franz Fein, Rowohlt Verlag, Berlin 1930).
  • 1933: Ann Vickers (German EA Ann Vickers , translator Franz Fein, Rowohlt Verlag, Berlin 1933).
  • 1934: Work of Art (German EA The Work of Art , translator Franz Fein, Rowohlt Verlag, Berlin 1934).
  • 1935: It Can't Happen Here (German EA This is not possible with us . Translator Hans Meisel , Amsterdam 1936; again Leipzig and Weimar 1984 and Berlin 2017).
  • 1943: Gideon Planish (German Gideon Planish, translator William G. Frank, 1972).
  • 1945: Cass Timberlane (German Cass Timberlane. Translator Lena Frender, Zurich 1948).
  • 1947: Kingsblood Royal (German: The Royal Kingsblood. Translator Rudolf Frank, Zurich 1951).
  • 1949: The God-Seeker (German EA The Lonely Fighter , translator Magda H. Larsen, Diana Verlag, Zurich 1951).
  • 1952: World So Wide (Posthum) (Ger. How is the world so wide. Zurich 1955).

Film adaptations


  • Axel von Cossart: Sinclair Lewis and his characters. Epubli, Berlin 2014. ISBN 978-3-8442-8930-5 .
  • Stephen R. Pastore: Sinclair Lewis. A Descriptive Bibliography. A Collector's and Scholar's Guide to Identification. 2nd Edition. University of Scranton Press, Scranton 2009, ISBN 978-1-58966-156-1 .
  • Richard Lingeman: Sinclair Lewis. Rebel from Main Street. Random House, New York 2002, ISBN 0-679-43823-8 .
  • James M. Hutchisson: The Rise of Sinclair Lewis, 1920-1930. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park 1996, ISBN 978-0-271-01503-3 .
  • Vincent Sheean : Dorothy and Red (Dorothy and Red. German). The story of Dorothy Thompson and Sinclair Lewis. (Original title: Dorothy and Red ). German by Fritz Jaffe . Droemer, Munich and Zurich 1964.
  • Wilfried Edener: The criticism of religion in the novels of Sinclair Lewis . Supplements to the Yearbook of American Studies (10). Winter, Heidelberg 1963.
  • Sheldon Norman Grebstein: Sinclair Lewis. 2nd Edition. Twayne's United States Authors Series No. 14th New York 1962.
  • Liselotte Bischof: The great women in Sinclair Lewis. (Dissertation, University of Vienna 1951.) Vienna 1950.
  • Walter Lenk: The image of America in Sinclair Lewis' novels. (Dissertation, University of Vienna 1950.) Vienna 1949.

Web links

Commons : Sinclair Lewis  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Members: Sinclair Lewis. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed April 9, 2019 .