The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

[from Wikipedia]

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, by Sloan Wilson , is a 1955 novel about the American search for purpose in a world dominated by business. Tom and Betsy Rath share a struggle to find contentment in their hectic and material culture while several other characters fight essentially the same battle, but struggle in it for different reasons. In the end, it is a story of taking responsibility for one’s own life. The book was largely autobiographical, drawing on Wilson’s experiences as assistant director of the US National Citizen Commission for Public Schools.

The novel was made into a movie in 1956, starring Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones as Tom and Betsy Rath, with Fredric March , Lee J. Cobb , Keenan Wynn and Marisa Pavan in supporting roles. (March plays Tom Rath’s boss, a character based on Roy Larsen, Wilson’s boss at Time, Inc. ) It was entered at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival .[1]

Both movie and book became hugely popular. The novel continues to appear in the references of sociologists to America’s discontented businessman. Columnist Bob Greene wrote, “The title of Sloan Wilson’s best-selling novel became part of the American vernacular—the book was a ground-breaking fictional look at conformity in the executive suite, and it was a piece of writing that helped the nation’s business community start to examine the effects of its perceived stodginess and sameness.”[2]

The book was re-issued in 2002, with a foreword by author Jonathan Franzen .

[something to read/watch]

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