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Sinclair Lewis News

The new issue of the Sinclair Lewis Society Newsletter is now out (Fall 2016). If you'd like a sample copy, e-mail Sally Parry at separry@ilstu.edu.Register now for the Sinclair Lewis Conference in Sauk Centre, Minnesota July 12-14, 2017. View the conference brochure here!

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Welcome to the Sinclair Lewis Society Web site!

We hope you will take a few minutes to learn more about the Society and join us in the scholarship and celebration of one of America's finest novelists, Sinclair Lewis. Here you can find excerpts and quotes from some of Lewis's novels and browse our extensive list of Lewis links.

The conference will feature Anthony Di Renzo, editor of If I Were Boss: The Early Business Stories of Sinclair Lewis, as the keynote speaker. There will be panels of speakers, including noted Lewis scholars; a tour of the Sinclair Lewis Boyhood Home; a visit to the archives at St. Cloud State University, which contains Lewis Family papers; a dramatic reading of the play version of It Can’t Happen Here; a Sinclair Lewis Sing-a-Long at the Jitters Java Café; and a silent auction of books by and about Lewis, as well as Japanese art prints once owned by Lewis.

 This conference will celebrate Lewis as a commentator on American society and his continued importance in American literature in the 21st century. 2017 is the 90th anniversary of Elmer Gantry and the 70th anniversary of Kingsblood Royal. The conference is being held in conjunction with the annual Sinclair Lewis Days, which will include a parade, a pie social, a craft fair, and various other events. Presentations will take place at the Sauk Centre City Hall on Oak Street, lunches at the Palmer House Hotel, and evening entertainment at the First Lutheran Church and Jitters Java Café.  Accommodations are available throughout Sauk Centre, including at the Palmer House where Lewis worked as a young man. The nearest large airport is Minneapolis-St. Paul, although there is a regional airport in St. Cloud. 

For more information, please e-mail Sally Parry at separry@ilstu.edu .

 

For information on what's been published in our newsletter over the last 25 years, click on the Society link. Newsletters can be ordered individually or as a set. For a time line of Lewis's life and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), check out the Sinclair Lewis link.

To inquire about membership in the Sinclair Lewis Society, e-mail Dr. Sally Parry.

Here's our most asked question:

Q: Did Sinclair Lewis say, "When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross"? 

A: This quote sounds like something Sinclair Lewis might have said or written, but we've never been able to find this exact quote. Here are passages from two novels Lewis wrote that are similar to the quote attributed to him.

From It Can't Happen Here: "But he saw too that in America the struggle was befogged by the fact that the worst Fascists were they who disowned the word 'Fascism' and preached enslavement to Capitalism under the style of Constitutional and Traditional Native American Liberty."

From Gideon Planish: "I just wish people wouldn't quote Lincoln or the Bible, or hang out the flag or the cross, to cover up something that belongs more to the bank-book and the three golden balls."

There was also a play by Sherman Yellen called Strangers in the late 1970s which had a similar quote, but no one, including one of Lewis’s biographers, Richard Lingeman, has ever been able to locate the original citation.

Other variants include one from James Waterman Wise, Jr. in the Christian Century (Feb.5, 1936) who noted that Hearst and Coughlin were the two chief exponents of fascism in America. If fascism comes, he added, it will not be identified with any "shirt" movement, nor with an "insignia," but it will probably be "wrapped up in the American flag and heralded as a plea for liberty and preservation of the constitution" (245). Another version isfrom Halford E. Luccock, in Keeping Life Out of Confusion (1938): "When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled 'made in Germany'; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, 'Americanism.'" Harrison Evans Salisbury in The Many Americas Shall Be One (1971) remarked "Sinclair Lewis aptly predicted in It Can't Happen Here that if fascism came to America it would come wrapped in the flag and whistling 'The Star Spangled Banner'" (29).