Has there been a film version?
One in 1967 that starred Burt Lancaster was made.
Who are the important characters?
Elmer Gantry – a strong and blustery man who sees the chance for social recognition in being a pastor
Sister Sharon Falconer – a young woman who is a fantastic traveling evangelist and who boasts the power of prophecy, Elmer falls in love with her
Lulu Bains – a girl Elmer gets involved with in his first pastorship
Jim Lefferts – Elmer’s first and nearly only friend, he is a strict atheist who tries to keep Elmer from becoming a preacher
Frank Shallard – Elmer’s preaching partner in his early career, he isn’t sure he believes in God, and he definitely doesn’t believe in the church
Eddie Fislinger – a devout and dedicated man of God, Elmer’s first rival
What’s it about?
Elmer Gantry is a man who loves attention. When he is forced to go to seminary by his mother, he recognizes what a sensation he would be as a preacher. He loves spouting off ideas and he loves hearing himself talk, so he and his professors (who recognize him as a very formidable figure) finagle him into a preacher position. But Elmer doesn’t plan on giving up whiskey, women and other worldly vices just because he’s telling other people to.
Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
It was a banned book because it points out the hypocrisy that can be found in the church…especially during the 1920’s.
Do I recommend you read this book?
How did this book make my list?
It was near the top of the banned books list.
Has it won any awards?
No, I don’t think so.
“He was supposed to be the most popular man in college; every one believed that every one else adored him; and none of them wanted to be with him.” – p 14
“Eddie Fislinger’s church was an octagonal affair, with the pulpit in one angle, an arrangement which produced a fascinating, rather dizzy effect, reminiscent of the doctrine of predestination.” – p 153
Lewis includes a cameo by Babbitt – one of the characters from another of his books – in this one.
This book is one of those which you keep reading because you want to know what happens at the end but you don’t really have any hope of it turning out any differently than it already is. There was a complete blasting of any leadership position in Christianity in the person of Elmer. He was everything a hypocrite is supposed to be, and on top of that he was obnoxious and fairly disgusting. The book seemed to be the same story over and over again on progressively grander scales – Elmer has an idea to become more famous, Elmer puts plan into action without considering anyone but himself, Elmer almost gets disgraced, Elmer emerges triumphant and more famous than ever.