My old buddy quite rightly poked a little hole in my literary interpretation. I observed that the “Zenith City” of Sinclair Lewis’s Babbitt described a much bigger metropolis than Duluth has ever been. Duluth is often said to have served as the inspiration for this turn of phrase in Lewis’s books.
Well, I can’t argue with Vic’s reply on this point as I often do when we debate national politics:
Oh, Harry. Babbitt’s “Zenith City” isn’t Duluth? That’s like saying that Shakespeare’s plays aren’t about us, because they were engendered long before all of us were born. Babbitt and Main Street and Elmer Gantry are everywhere.
Babbitt’s “Zenith City” isn’t Duluth. Its going on a million people ten times the size our our fair town. He’s a man too shallow to realize he’s not an honest fellow, a little too extreme…but that seems to be the point for Sinclair Lewis. He was beating up middle class boosterism and self satisfaction.