And when I get ready to retire I’m going to build me an up-to-date bungalow in some lovely resort, not in Como or any other of the proverbial Grecian isles you may be sure, but in somewheres like Florida, California, Santa Fe, & etc., and devote myself just to reading the classics, like Longfellow, James Whitcomb Riley, Lord Macaulay, Henry Van Dyke, Elbert Hubbard, Plato, Hiawatha, & etc. Some of my friends laugh at me for it, but I have always cultivated a taste for the finest in literature. I got it from my Mother as I did everything that some people have been so good as to admire in me.
Zero Hour, Berzelious Windrip
Although this list of great literature suffers from age, it seems difficult to dismiss the possibility that the author, Sinclair Lewis, was not being a tad satirical.
You can look up the great works of such literary giants as Elbert Hubbard and Henry Van Dyke on Wikipedia as I did but the real eye-opener is this guy Hiawatha (not Longfellow’s epic hero). I don’t know if Windrip ever read any works attributed to Hiawatha (if there are any) but despite the vagaries of oral history, the story of Hiawatha is quite interesting.
Doremus Jessup, so inconspicuous an observer, watching Senator Windrip from so humble a Boeotia, could not explain his power of bewitching large audiences. The Senator was vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his “ideas” almost idiotic, while his celebrated piety was that of a traveling salesman for church furniture, and his yet more celebrated humor the sly cynicism of a country store.
Certainly there was nothing exhilarating in the actual words of his speeches, nor anything convincing in his philosophy. His political platforms were only wings of a windmill.
— It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis