Sweeper: Historical Inspirations

When speaking about Sinclair Lewis’ novel, it was interesting to speak about the author’s motivations and potential biases, and how that relates to the text. First of all, the book was realised in 1935, just a year before the next presidential election. Lewis used the novel in a similar way to Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, which was released shortly before the 2004 presidential election. Unlike Moore’s documentary, but similar to Citizen Kane, Lewis’ novel told the fictitious story of Buzz Windrip, who acts as a stand in for real life presidential candidate Huey Long. As it was clear at the time of the books release that Buzz Windrip was based off Huey Long, Lewis used the fictitious character to critique Long, suggesting that if he were elected, it would lead to the introduction of dictatorial regime in the United States. This regime resembles, although does differ in significant ways, similar rises of populist movements in Europe at the time. The dictatorial regime that arose in the book heavily resembled the likes of Germany and Italy. While Lewis’ view is certainly not one that would have necessarily been correct, just because someone resembles a populist means they will lead a restructuring of government that will put them in place as a dictator, it was certainly interesting to see how someone thought this would happen in the United States at this time.

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