Elmer Gantry Criticism

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On publication in 1927, Elmer Gantry created a public furor. According to Mark Schorer, in his introduction to Sinclair Lewis: A Collection of Critical Essays, "No novel in the history of American literature outraged its audience so completely, and very few novels in American literature had a larger immediate audience." The book was banned in Boston and other cities and denounced from hundreds of pulpits. One cleric suggested that Lewis should be imprisoned for five years, and there were also threats of physical violence against the author. The adverse publicity helped sales, and 175,000 copies were sold in less than six weeks.

Reviewers were divided on the merits of the novel. Some found it repugnant and accused Lewis of grossly distorting his subject matter. Others praised its accurate reporting and its denunciation of hypocrisy, comparing Lewis to great satirists such as Voltaire and Swift. Charles W. Ferguson, in the Bookman...

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This section contains 280 words
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Elmer Gantry from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.