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Sinclair Lewis, It Can't Happen Here
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come_to_think
Reading: It Can't Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis: an imagined fascist takeover of the U.S. This is not one of Lewis's acclaimed novels, but I read it at a tender age (perhaps 10), and it has often struck me how vividly I remembered pieces of it after six decades:  Berzelius (Buzz) Windrip, a Doremus Jessup can never die, steel fishing rods & castor oil, a college lab emptied of apparatus & used for drilling recruits, If I ever get out of Washington I'm going to Siberia, Bob Hope in exile making jokes about the dictator on Canadian radio (only, that isn't there --- it must have drifted into my memory from another book). So I thought I'd see how it read now.

Probably Lewis meant it to be ephemeral.  Most writers of (anti)utopias set their stories far enough in the future to leave a fair amount of time till they are falsified; but Lewis published this book in 1935, and the action starts in 1936, when homegrown fascists take over the Democratic Party, win the presidential election, and among other things send FDR into exile.  They are an American amalgam, but many details of course are inspired by the Italian & German dictatorships, especially the latter.

Being Sinclair Lewis, he also meant it to be satirical.  Even the good guys, who are persecuted & eventually organize a revolt, are satirized, tho with some affection.  Most of the time they do not behave heroically or intelligently.  The bad guys are extremely incompetent --- more so than their European models.  That, also, is probably realistic; America has not produced many first-class sons of bitches.

Homosexuality makes several bizarre appearances, always among the bad guys.  I suppose Lewis was thinking of the SA.

There is a great deal of detailed description of torture --- even more than in (say) Nineteen Eighty-Four.  It seems that in those days, people in the comfortable classes in Britain & America were unnerved by the fact that in the European dictatorships people like them were imprisoned & tortured, and brooded over the possibility.  That lasted to some extent into the next generation (mine).