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Sinclair Lewis Newsletter

The new issue of the Sinclair Lewis Society Newsletter is now out (Fall 2019). If you'd like a sample copy, e-mail Sally Parry at separry@ilstu.edu. It includes articles on John Gunther and Sinclair Lewis, Teaching Lewis's Kingsblood Royal with Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, a review of Alcoholite at the Altar: The Writer and Addiction by Roger Forseth, and our continuing feature "What Were They Reading Then?" with essays on Tyranny of the Dark by Hamlin Garland and The Voice of Bugle Ann by MacKinlay Kantor.

Welcome to the Sinclair Lewis Society Website!

           

Main Street Turns 100!

The Sinclair Lewis Society, in association with the Sinclair Lewis Foundation, will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Main Street during the annual Sinclair Lewis Days, July 15–17, 2020, in Sauk Centre, Minnesota.

There will be a conference focusing on Main Street and its influence on American culture. The Society welcomes papers on any other aspect of Lewis studies as well. In addition to the panels, there will be a keynote speaker, a tour of places connected with Lewis’s boyhood, and the unveiling of Dave Simpkins’s book on the young Sinclair Lewis, Becoming Sinclair Lewis. Accommodations are available throughout Sauk Centre, including the Palmer House where Lewis worked as a young man.

Abstracts of papers are due May 1, 2020, but are welcome earlier. For more information, please e-mail Sally Parry at separry@ilstu.edu.

 

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

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).