Sinclair Lewis: Elmer Gantry

(1429 words)

After the publication of his more moderate novel Arrowsmith (1925), Sinclair Lewis returned to what he did best, writing unrelieved satire. Elmer Gantry (1927) is, in fact, the most scathing satire Lewis ever wrote. Like Main Street (1920) and Babbitt (1922), Elmer Gantry provoked widespread controversy.

Elmer Gantry is the story of a young roughneck who abandons his early ambition to become a lawyer and embarks on a career in the ministry. The opening sentence of the novel, “Elmer Gantry was drunk”, introduces one of Lewis's least likeable protagonists. While an undergraduate in an obscure denominational college, Elmer discovers that he loves to be the center of attention. While he i…

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Fleming, Robert E.. "Elmer Gantry". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 June 2003
[, accessed 25 September 2016.]