What biographical data about Sinclair Lewis helps to put his writing in a historical context?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the fact that Lewis grew up in the American Midwest might be one element of his biographical data that can help to configure his writing style.  The element of small town provincialism was something that figured prominently in his work and this can be seen in his biography.  Living in the shadow of the more athletic and socially acceptable older brother might be another element that enabled him to observe how people behaved, something that figures prominently in his writing.  After his publication of short stories and marriage, Lewis was insistent that his family move around to different parts of the United States and not be wedded to one particular region.  Lewis understood that the emergence of American identity was something historically new and his attention to this is notable.  This helped to explain how committed Lewis was to exploring different elements of American consciousness in his work, seeing himself as a type of sociologist and field researcher about American behavior and habits more than a writer.  Certainly, these elements emerge in his work as a study of Americana and what it means to be American. The young nation was branching off and developing into different narratives, something unique and new in its historical narrative. The fact that Lewis understood American identity as complex and he wanted his life to absorb and research these nuances are elements from his bio data that can help to explain his writing in a historical context.

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