Bachelor of Arts
School or Department
Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures
Faculty Mentor Department
Modern and Classical Languages
Sinclair Lewis, Yurii Olesha, satire, comparison, 1920s, Russia and America
Arts and Humanities | Comparative Literature | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, North America | Modern Languages | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures | Rhetoric and Composition
This paper proposes a cross-cultural examination of the societal satire of the countries of America and Soviet Russia by way of comparison of two satiric novels. Sinclair Lewis’s Babbitt satirizes the business values of capitalist America and the materialism perceived in an economic system based on the mass production and mass consumption of goods. Yurii Olesha’s Envy uses Babbitt in intertextual conversation to perform a similar critique of the Soviet Russian society and values of the same time period. Satiric theory provides a framework for understanding and relaying how each novel performs its parody of the respective society, while historical and sociological information concerning the development of the two nations in the time of these novels contextualizes the satires in their respective societal environments. The ultimate outcome of this intertextual and cross-cultural comparison is an understanding of what issues each culture considers worrisome in its socioeconomic climate, as well as an understanding of how social critique is performed in both nations through the similarities and differences of each author’s satirical techniques related to satire. The sociological framework in which these works are contextualized also demonstrates the ongoing relevance of the concerns of each author to their respective nations today and the importance of continued societal critique as a way to bring to the attention of the general populace recurring trends, both governmental and economical.
Honors College Research Project
Johnson, Mariah, "Satirical Perspectives: A Cross-Cultural Comparison" (2017). Undergraduate Theses, Professional Papers, and Capstone Artifacts. 161.
© Copyright 2017 Mariah Johnson