SINCLAIR LEWIS MAIN IT dr P. F. COLLIER SON CORPORATION NEW YORK
COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY, INC. PRINTED IN TH
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA To James Branch Cab ell and Joseph
Hergesheimer This is America a town of a few thousand, in a region
of and corn and dairies and little groves. The town is, in om tale,
called Gopher Prairie, Minn esota But Us Main Street is the
continuation of Main Streets everywhere. The story would be the
same in Ohio or Montana, in Kansas or Kentucky or Illinois, and not
very differently would it be told Up York State or in the Carolina
hills, Main Street is the climax of civilization. That this Ford
car might stand in front of the Bon Ton Store, Hannibal invaded
Rome and Erasmus wrote in Oxford cloisters. What Ole Jenson the
grocer says to Ezra Stowbody the banker is the new law for London,
Prague, and the unprofitable isles of the sea whatsoever Ezra does
not know and sanction, that thing Is heresy, worthless for knowing
and wicked to consider. Pur railway station is the final aspiration
of architecture. Sam Clarks annual hardware turnover is he envy of
the four counties which constitute Gods Country. In the sensitive
art of the Rosebud Movie Palace there is r Message, and humor
strictly moral. Suck is our comfortable tradition and sure faith.
Would he not betray himself an alien cynic who should otherwise
portray Main Street, or distress the citizens by speculating
whethef there may not be other faiths MAIN STREET CHAPTER I ON a
Mil by the Mississippi where Chippewas camped two generations ago,
a girl stood in relief against the cornflower blue of Northern sky.
She saw no Indians now she saw flour mills and the blinking windows
ofskyscrapers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Nor was she thinking of
squaws and portages and the Yankee fur-traders whose shadows were
all about her. She was meditating upon walnut fudge, the plays of
Brieux f the reasons why keels run over, and the fact that the
chemistry instructor ad stared at the new coiffure which concealed
her ears. A breeze which had crossed a thousand miles of
wheat-lands bellied her taffeta skirt in a line so graceful, so
full of animation and moving beauty, that the heart of a chance
watcher on the lower road tightened to wistfulness over her quality
of sus pended freedom. She lifted her arms, she leaned back against
the wind, her skirt dipped and flared, a lock blew wild. A girl on
a hilltop credulous, plastic, young drinking the air as she longed
to drink life. The eternal aching comedy of expectant youth. It is
Carol Milford, fleeing for an hour from Blodgett College. The days
of pioneering, of lassies In sunbonnets, and bears killed with axes
in piney clearings, are deader now than Came lot and a rebellious
girl is the spirit of that bewildered empire called the American
Middlewest. Blodgett College is on the edge of Minneapolis. It is a
bulwark of sound religion. It is still combating the recent
heresies of Voltaire, Darwin, and Robert Ingersoll. Pious r 3 MAIN
STREET families in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, the Dakotas send
their children thither, and Biodgett protects them from the wicked
ness of the universities. But it secretes friendly girls, young men
who sing, and one lady instructress who really likes Milton and
Carlyle. So the four years which Carol spent at Biodgett were not
altogether wasted. The smallness of the school, the fewness of
rivals, permitted her to experiment with her perilous versatility.
She played tennis, gave chafing-dish parties, took a graduate
seminar in the drama, went twosing, and joined half a dozen
societies for the practise of the arts or the tense stalking of a
thing called General Culture. In her class there were two or three
prettier girls, but none more eager. She was noticeable equally in
the classroom grind and at dances, though out of the three hundred
students of Biodgett, scores recited more accurately and dozens
Bostoned more smoothly...
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