'Zenith is the finest example of American life and prosperity to be found anywhere.' Zenith is the Midwestern city where George F. Babbitt lives and works. A successful real estate agent, his business provides all the material trappings and comfort he thinks he ought to have. He is a member of all the right clubs, and unquestioningly shares the same aspirations and ideas as his friends and fellow Boosters. Yet even complacent, conformist Babbitt dreams of romance and escape, and when his best friend does something to throw his world upside down, he rebels, and tries to find fulfilment in romantic adventures and liberal thinking. Hilarious and poignant, Babbitt turns the spotlight on middle America and strips bare the hypocrisy of business practice, social mores, politics, and religious institutions. A brilliant satire, it evokes an era and at the same time exposes a universal social malaise. In his introduction and notes Gordon Hutner explores the novel's historical and literary contexts, and its rich cultural and social references.
Gordon Hutner is Professor of English at the University of Illinois.