Books: Buzz & Antibuzz

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Regardless of whether a Doremus Jessup can die, It Can't Happen Here reveals with painful clarity that Sinclair Lewis cannot make one live. As a result, the 15th novel of the only U. S. writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature must be classed as one of his least successful efforts. Partly a political farce, it deals with events too troubling and violent, and is too extended to be amusing. Partly a serious effort to warn readers of the dangers of a dictatorship, it presents that dictatorship as too weird to be convincing or alarming.

It Can't Happen Here reveals a sharp change in Sinclair Lewis' interests, as well as his general unfamiliarity with the political field. Last week literary gossips, recalling that his wife, Dorothy Thompson (I Saw Hitler), was a severe critic of the Nazis and had been expelled from Germany last year, were inclined to believe that Author Lewis had got his picture of a modern dictatorship at second hand, imagining a U. S. totalitarian state cut so closely on the German model that it could not fit the U. S. at any point. And readers of It Can't Happen Here who feel that almost anything can happen in the U. S. are likely to be convinced that it cannot happen in quite the way Author Lewis describes.

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