Saturday, December 19, 2015

Sinclair Lewis--Main Street plus reflection

Finally finished reading Main Street and I think it might be a good time to do some reflection on what I gathered through reading.

Everyone has a life story in which someone else's garden is always greener and no suffering could be grander than one's own.

Back to quotes I like from Main Street by Sinclair Lewis:

  1. settled into submission to poverty.
  2. among the shadows of dead thoughts and haunting repressions.
  3. the unprotected houses would crouch together in terror of storms galloping out of that wild waste.
  4. An impressive barricade of green and gold wheels, of shafts and sulky seats, belonging to machinery of which Carol knew nothing— potato-planters,
  5. Miss Bea was a stalwart, corn-colored, laughing young woman, and she was bored by farm-work. She desired the excitements of city-life, and the way to enjoy city-life was, she had decided, to "go get a yob as hired girl in Gopher Prairie." (Good contrast!)
  6. shining with welcome.
  7. let her tired spirit be absorbed in the Nirvana of the incomparable sky.
  8. the decency of clean bareness.
  9. One trouble with books is that they're not so thoroughly safeguarded by intelligent censors as the movies are,
  10. My religion is so foggy.
  11. overwhelming belief in the brains and hearts of our nation, our state, our town.
  12. this high-art stuff that doesn't encourage us day-laborers to plod on."
  13. Let's make Gopher Prairie rock to its foundations: let's have afternoon tea instead of afternoon coffee. (What's the tea and coffee thing? Don't get it 8-O)
  14. She wheezed in, sighed, gave Carol a pulpy hand, sighed, glanced sharply at the revelation of ankles as Carol crossed her legs, sighed, inspected the new blue chairs, smiled with a coy sighing sound, and gave voice ...
  15. the party was again elevated to the decorum of a prayer-meeting.
  16. Raymond hasn't an unusually good voice, but don't you think he puts such a lot of feeling into it? (Sounds almost like my writing. lol)
  17. poisoned with doubt,
  18. herself— overstimulated by the drug of thought, and offensively on the defensive.
  19. an intellectual squalor; a swamp of prejudices and fears.
  20. a seed to sprout and some day with thickening roots to crack their wall of mediocrity.

  21. (This book is very Woody Allen style though Lewis came first.)

  22. there can never be genuine beauty without the message from the heart.
  23. Carol's hero-worship dwindled to polite nodding, and the nodding dwindled to a desire to escape, and she went home with a headache.
  24. God has never done much but creep around and try to catch us disobeying it.
  25. Then I found that the Village Virus had me, absolute .... That's all of the biography of a living dead man, except the diverting last chapter, the lies about my having been 'a tower of strength and legal wisdom' which some day a preacher will spin over my lean dry body."
  26. And the penalty we tribal rulers pay is that our subjects watch us every minute. We can't get wholesomely drunk and relax. We have to be so correct about sex morals, and inconspicuous clothes, and doing our commercial trickery only in the traditional ways, that none of us can live up to it, and we become horribly hypocritical.
  27. Oh, my dear, I haven't talked to anybody about myself and all our selves for years."
  28. You are within your legal rights in refusing to be subjected to this summing-up. I'm a tedious old fool analyzing the obvious, while you're the spirit of rebellion.
  29. I'm trying to develop my own large capacity for dullness and contentment.
  30. in great dignity and self-dramatization, she returned to bed.
  31. you always talk so much about getting all you can out of life, and not letting the years slip by, and here you deliberately go and deprive yourself of a lot of real good home pleasure by not enjoying people unless ....
  32. You'll find these characters in all these small towns, and a pile of savvy in every single one of them, if you just dig for it."
  33. Night witchery and morning disillusion were alike forgotten in the march of realities and days.
  34. She was like the revolutionist at fifty: not afraid of death, but bored by the probability of bad steaks and bad breaths and sitting up all night on windy barricades.
  35. She was snatched back from a dream of far countries, and found herself on Main Street.
  36. The words and the light blurred into one vast indefinite happiness,
  37. The night expanded, she was conscious of the universe, and all mysteries stooped down to her. (This is a good way of describing that winter night when I found in myself with the power to connect with stars etc--the universe and beyond.)
  38. they said the same things in the same hearty monotonous voices.
  39. the only way to be artistic is to present Shakespeare. As no one listened to her she sat back and looked like Lady Macbeth.
  40. They had borrowed Carol's manuals of play-production and had become extremely stagey in vocabulary.
  41. frightened into paralysis.
  42. for three years which passed like one curt paragraph,
  43. Her condescension was ruined and her humility wholesomely increased
  44. In the plodding course of her life there was nothing changed, and nothing new.
  45. THE greatest mystery about a human being is not his reaction to sex or praise, but the manner in which he contrives to put in twenty-four hours a day. It is this which puzzles the long-shoreman about the clerk, the Londoner about the bushman.
  46. It has not yet been recorded that any human being has gained a very large or permanent contentment from meditation upon the fact that he is better off than others. (Lord, this is great! lol)
  47. she felt herself being ironed into glossy mediocrity, and she rebelled, in fear.
  48. The cloud of serene ignorance submerges them in unhappiness and futility.
  49. Not till he had climbed to his office and found another sign on the door, another Dr. Kennicott inside, would he understand that something curious had presumably happened.
  50. "... How can you expect to do anything with it if you haven't any sympathy?" "But I have! And affection. Or else I wouldn't fume so.
  51. Passengers looking from trains saw her as a village woman of fading prettiness, incorruptible virtue, and no abnormalities;
  52. raged mutely against the indifferent gods:
  53. Do they think they can make me believe that a display of potatoes at Howland & Gould's is enough beauty and strangeness?"
  54. "The young do the work while these old ones sit around and interrupt us and gag with hate because they're too feeble to do anything but hate,"
  55. making an earnest business of sleeping.
  56. He's a servant of reality."
  57. "You don't have to stay. I do! So I want to change it.
  58. to tear at the shroud of intimacy, to perceive the strangeness of the most familiar.
  59. She shut the door on her thoughts. That was sacred ground.
  60. he was shocked by Carol's lack of faith, and wasn't quite sure what was the nature of the faith that she lacked. (lol)
  61. he had the grace of a cat. (Nice!)
  62. I wonder how much of the cement is made out of the tombstones of John Keatses? (Never read Keats other than roses are red. But this sounds good.)
  63. the town's principle of perfect democracy was not meant to be applied indiscriminately. (Some variation to all animals are equal.)
  64. flamed like a recent convert to any faith.
  65. myths that broad plains necessarily make broad minds, and high mountains make high purpose.
  66. be bullied and BULLIED by the faith that the future is already here in the present, and that all of us must stay and worship wheat-stacks and insist that this is 'God's Country'— and never, of course, do anything original or gay-colored that would help to make that future! Anyway, you don't belong here.
  67. "Though I despise these people who interfere. He must be independent."
  68. unheroic heroine in a drama insanely undramatic. (Why can't I build sentences like this?!)
  69. But she knew that she still had no plan in life, save always to go along the same streets, past the same people, to the same shops.
  70. the house reeked with a colorless stillness.
  71. The chart which plots Carol's progress is not easy to read. The lines are broken and uncertain of direction; often instead of rising they sink in wavering scrawls; and the colors are watery blue and pink and the dim gray of rubbed pencil marks. A few lines are traceable.
  72. She knew that there was nothing heroic or obviously dramatic in it, no magic of rare hours, nor valiant challenge, but it seemed to her that she was of some significance because she was commonplaceness, the ordinary life of the age, made articulate and protesting.
  73. ask why it is, and who first laid down the law that it had to be that way. If enough of us do this impolitely enough, then we'll become civilized in merely twenty thousand years or so, instead of having to wait the two hundred thousand years
  74. I may not have fought the good fight, but I have kept the faith."

No comments: