Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry

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After the publication of his more moderate novel


(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



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 is drunk one day in a small town near the college, he is lead to defend a classmate who is preaching on

1429 words

Citation: Fleming, Robert E.. "Elmer Gantry". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 June 2003 [, accessed 16 June 2024.]

5407 Elmer Gantry 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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