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PART II - BOOKS
CHAPTER X - SINCLAIR LEWIS

Nevertheless, his passion is for photography rather than for selection, a kitten will serve when no cows are present, and, if I interpret Mr. Lewis correctly, we must not lay too much stress on his attitude to life. He has an attitude ; he is against dullness, heartiness and intolerance, a trinity of evils most closely entwined ; he mistrusts Y.M.C.A. helpfulness and rotarian idealism ; while as for a positive creed (if we can accept Martin Arrowsmith as an unaided confession of faith) he believes in scientific research. ' So many men, Martin, have been kind and helpful, so few have added to knowledge,' complains the old bacteriologist. One can safely class him with writers termed ` advanced,' with people who prefer truth to comfort, passion to stability, prevention to cure. But the classification lets what is most vital in him escape ; his attitude, though it exists, does not dwell in the depths of his being. His likes and dislikes mean less to him than the quickness of his eye, and though he tends to snapshot muscular Christians when they are attacked with cramp, he would sooner snap them amid clouds of angels than not at all. His commentary on society is constant, coherent, sincere ; yet the reader's eye follows the author's eye rather than his voice, and when Main Street is quitted it is not its narrowness, but its existence that remains as a permanent possession.
His method of book-building is unaffected and appropriate. In a sense (a very faint sense) his novels are tales of unrest. He takes a character who is not quite at ease in his or her surroundings, contrives episodes that urge this way or that, and a final issue of revolt or acquiescence. In his earlier work both character and episodes are clear-cut ; in his later-but let us postpone for a moment the painful problem of a photographer's old age. Carrol Endicott, the heroine of his first important book, is a perfect medium, and also a living being. Her walks down Main Street are overwhelming ; we see the houses, we see her against them, and when the dinginess breaks and Erik Valborg arises with his gallant clothes and poet's face, we, too, are seduced, and feel that such a world might well be lost for love. Never again is Mr. Lewis to be so poignant or to arrange his simple impressions so nearly in the order of high tragedy ;` I may not have fought the good fight, but I have kept the faith ' are Carrol's final words,

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