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3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  5,347 Ratings  ·  277 Reviews
Originally published in 1925, after three years of anticipation, the book follows the life of Martin Arrowsmith, a rather ordinary fellow who gets his first taste of medicine at 14 as an assistant to the drunken physician in his home town.

It is Leora Tozer who makes Martin's life extraordinary. With vitality and love, she urges him beyond the confines of the mundane to ris
Hardcover, 428 pages
Published June 1st 1953 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (first published January 1st 1925)
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Heidi This book was one of the best books I've ever read. And I don't love all Sinclair Lewis books. Arrowsmith was awarded the 1926 Pulitzer Prize, but…moreThis book was one of the best books I've ever read. And I don't love all Sinclair Lewis books. Arrowsmith was awarded the 1926 Pulitzer Prize, but Lewis declined the award. In a letter to the committee, he wrote:

"I wish to acknowledge your choice of my novel Arrowsmith for the Pulitzer Prize. That prize I must refuse, and my refusal would be meaningless unless I explained the reasons.
All prizes, like all titles, are dangerous. The seekers for prizes tend to labor not for inherent excellence but for alien rewards; they tend to write this, or timorously to avoid writing that, in order to tickle the prejudices of a haphazard committee. And the Pulitzer Prize for Novels is peculiarly objectionable because the terms of it have been constantly and grievously misrepresented.

Those terms are that the prize shall be given "for the American novel published during the year which shall best present the wholesome atmosphere of American life, and the highest standard of American manners and manhood." This phrase, if it means anything whatsoever, would appear to mean that the appraisal of the novels shall be made not according to their actual literary merit but in obedience to whatever code of Good Form may chance to be popular at the moment."(less)
Les Misérables by Victor HugoWar and Peace by Leo TolstoyAnna Karenina by Leo TolstoyDon Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraUlysses by James Joyce
The Great Classics You Have Not Read Yet
199th out of 572 books — 1,501 voters
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Best Books of the Decade: 1920's
100th out of 385 books — 892 voters

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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aug 22, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, fiction

I feel like I should be given a reward for making it through this, one of the most boring novels I've ever read. Maybe a coupon for a free pair of shoes, or a fruit basket. Every page was sheer torture. No plot point, no character, no line of dialogue, was interesting. Not one sentence glimmered or sparkled with the suggestion: this writer is prizeworthy.

When you consider two other American works published this same year that could have won the Pulitzer - The Great Gatsby and An American Tragedy
Nov 13, 2013 Judy rated it it was amazing
Sinclair Lewis refused to accept the Pulitzer Prize for this extraordinary novel, but don't refuse the opportunity to read it. Lewis writes with devastating precision, creativity, and wicked humor, while skewering the abundant egotism, vanity, greed and self-aggrandizement he finds in his fellow human beings.

This novel follows Dr. Martin Arrowsmith from small Midwest town (the setting of most of Lewis' works) in "medic" school through his career, during which he is constantly challenged to bala
Aug 04, 2008 Tyler rated it liked it
Recommends it for: _anyone
Recommended to Tyler by: _Pulitzer Prize award
What a premise for a book: A young man falls in love, not just with a young woman, but with a quest. This is the passion that infuses Arrowsmith. How the author was able to put blood into such an idea explains in part the Pulitzer prize.

The other part that explains the award is that the book is a good read. Covering the nearly 20 years during which a student (and later researcher) learns to embrace his life's calling, the plot never stalls. The constant motion guides us along with Martin Arrowsm
First of all let me state, I preferred Main Street. This was a disappointment even if it started out good.

I do like the clever lines filled with sardonic humor, but they wore thin after a while. You must listen carefully or you may not catch the implied criticism.

The book is too long, and it is repetitive. A message is delivered, but that message is said over and over again. The central focus is upon those in the medical profession. The author is stating that many are (view spoiler)
Apr 20, 2011 Scott rated it it was amazing
I just finished this novel earlier today. I was blown away. In her book, The Art of Fiction, Ayn Rand refers to this work by Sinclair Lewis often. She compares it to The Fountainhead a number of times, and rightly so. Martin Arrowsmith is much like Howard Roark in many ways, though Roark had more integrity. Martin seemed so much more human than Roark though. There are times that all idealists fall short from their way of life. Martin sells out a few time in this story, but it makes his character ...more
Dec 29, 2007 Lyn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those interested in social commentary/science
When I read this book, it started my love for Sinclair Lewis. He is, as far as I'm concerned, the Charles Dickens of the US. This book is about a young man who experiences disappointments and disillusionment in his life on his way to a career that he believes he wants.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I can't quite put my finger on why I was so lukewarm on this. Nothing was awful, but, frankly, I can't find anything to praise either.

I don't know how long Sinclair Lewis took to write it. Martin Arrowsmith has several stages in his life, and the writing itself seems to change with it. I don't think that was intentional, just, perhaps, that Lewis improved as he went along. The prose never does get excellent, just that it improves.

I have a couple of other quibbles. In the earlier stages mid-west
Kane Faucher
Aug 15, 2011 Kane Faucher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Arrowsmith poses the perennial problem (perhaps that reaches back as far as the Greeks in terms of the sophists): do we follow the noble path of our profession and engage it purely without chasing after fame and comfort, or do we compromise and embrace the commercialist perspective? For love or money? Unlike Lewis' other books, with the exception of 'It Can't Happen Here', we have a heroic (albeit stumbling, oscillating) character. Not endowed with the wisdom and certainty of position like Dorem ...more
Jul 09, 2014 Shane rated it really liked it
I can understand why this novel was so important at the time, for it brought out the conflicts between public and private healthcare, between discovery and commercial exploitation, and between researcher and healer.

Arrowsmith, a product of rural mid-west America, is the quintessential scientist, content to shun the pleasures and riches of the world and be sequestered in his laboratory unravelling the secrets of major epidemics. Only the love of his life, Leora, who faithfully and tragically foll
Jul 02, 2009 Elizabeth rated it liked it
In an interview recently, Abraham Verghese (a prominent doctor/writer) cited Arrowsmith as one of the books that people often say inspired them to be physicians. (His personal inspiration was the novel "Of Human Bondage.") When I first started Arrowsmith, it was hard to see how its satirical tone and waffling main character could possibly "inspire" anyone. And in fact, Martin Arrowsmith doesn't end up being a physician, per se, at all. His real passion is research science, and the overarching co ...more
May 29, 2016 Dorie rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, because I just adore the main character, Martin Arrowsmith. I was skeptical because of the length of this novel, but after reading this, I would not edit one word. The life of this would be biochemist is tough, yet touching. I enjoy Sinclair Lewis style and prose. Great story. Recommend!
Apr 26, 2015 Ted rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-american
It will be removed from my shelves today to make room for others. Still hoping to read other S. Lewis works. Still an attachment to him from where I grew up

I am sorry to admit that this is one of the two books I have read by Lewis, especially so since I grew up about 30 miles from Sauk Centre Minnesota, where he was born and raised. (The other book by him that I've read is It Can't Happen Here, which unfortunately seems more plausibly prophetic as time goes on.)

Perhaps I will have the opportunit
Sep 25, 2016 Aslan rated it it was amazing
Əsər Erousmitin universitet illərindən başlayır. O, tibb universitenin tələbəsidi. Tələbəlik vaxtlarında həm ixtisasca, həm xaraktercə hələ tam formalaşmamağına baxmayaraq əsərin davamında Erousmitin boş və satirik personaj olmayacağına dair məndə inam var idi. Amerika cəmiyyətinin facisəində şöhrətpərəstlik insanların məhv edən əsas "bakteriya" olsa da, Erousmit kimi dahi bakterioloq elmin və insanlığın təəssübkeşinə çevrilir. Erousmitin istər cəmiyyətlə mübarizəsində özünəqapanıqlığı, şöhrətpə ...more
Jul 12, 2014 Bet rated it really liked it
This is a broad, I mean really broad, satire of America. Lewis must have been a disillusioned, even bitter, man, but the humor is priceless. I read it for my Classics Book Group and am glad I did. There are many issues worth discussing.
Jun 28, 2008 WK rated it it was amazing
No wonder this is considered "Great Literature". Truly moving, well worth the time it takes to read.
May 30, 2012 Kate rated it it was ok
Exhausting, and not in a good way.
Aug 10, 2016 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1920s, usa
This author, in this novel, is to me a clear inheritor of Mark Twain's satirical bite and sheer funniness. The prose is not an aesthetic rival for Gatsby or Absalom but it's not trying for arresting style: it's trying for snappy directness and it glides along like Twain at his best, or Dickens in Pickwick. I'm stunned by some of the reviews here. Lewis was clearly a sharp comedian and a relentless critic of American society as it was (and basically still is), and in this novel is a rival for Bab ...more
Mar 31, 2014 Leslie rated it really liked it
Sinclair Lewis was a great observer of human nature. Although Arrowsmith is less satirical than I remember Babbitt being, his two dimensional characterizations are penetrating: they pull out the essential features of recognizable types. Under his critical eye, the honest fare best, whether they are lazy, or obtusely passionate, or otherwise not entirely commendable. And he doesn't collapse his protagonists into two-dimensionality. Martin Arrowsmith loves his wife Leora and neglects her to his wo ...more
Apr 07, 2012 Ensiform rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The titular main character, Martin Arrowsmith, attends medical school and becomes a doctor, then struggles to plot the correct course for his career: dedication to slow pure scientific research in the name of progress, or the quest for the money and rewards that hasty mock trials and early publication bring? The life of the dedicated scientist, or the society man? Arrowsmith’s heroes are Gottlieb, a scientist who disdains the “Men of Measured Merriment,” as he calls those who pursue knowledge fo ...more
Jun 01, 2009 Shauna rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I'm conflicted about this book. The social commentary about the profession of medicine, the quest for scientific knowledge, public health officials and politicians was surprisingly relevant, though the book was written in the 1920s.

The book is well-written, and the characters thoroughly explored, though archetypal.

However, I found myself willing myself through the book. Mainly because I did not like Dr. Arrowsmith. I didn't really care about what happened to him, and his inner conflicts seemed
Martin Arrowsmith enters med school in the early nineteen hundreds in the American midwest.

The reader sees the difficulty in dealing with medical and social issues. Martin goes through school with the ardor of a man pursuing his lifelong dream. When he takes a class in bacteriology, he can't imagine anything better than becoming a researcher.

Working hard, he needed a change of pace and goes to a city called Zenith where he meets Madeline Fox who is working on her grad school courses and seems to
Feb 08, 2012 itpdx rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Sinclair Lewis' classic novel about the conflict between "pure" scientific research and practical or commercial research. I read it in high school and had forgotten nearly all of it. And I wonder if my 16/17 year self got any of the satire. I got a couple of good chuckles from it. This was published in 1925 and I am fascinated by the depiction of the US in the early 20th century--the slang, prohibition, cultural divides, the "home front" during the Great War, travel by train, ship and au ...more
Feb 21, 2009 James rated it liked it
Shelves: pulitzer-prize
Arrowsmith is primarily a novel of social commentary on the state of and prospects for medicine in the United States in the 1920s. The protagonist, Martin Arrowsmith, is something of a rebel, and often challenges the existing state of things when he finds it wanting.
However he engages in much agonizing along the way concerning his career and life decisions. While detailing Martin's pursuit of the noble ideals of medical research for the benefit of mankind and of selfless devotion to the care of
Oct 19, 2010 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Lewis' novels are timeless. The subjects of his satire when he was actively writing apply even today! Lewis skillfully brought his main and supporting characters alive with humor and drama. Yes, sometimes melodramatic, but you gotta love it!! Specific to Arrowsmith, I'd say that Lewis has created a character that is after all very human, just like you and me. I truly sympathized with Arrowsmith and all his reactions to the events in his life. Not always stellar reactions... but so believable to ...more
Nov 30, 2015 Cathy rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-group, classic
Filled with beautiful language and lots of humor Arrowsmith escapes being a winner by being too long & somewhat dated.
Jeff Stern
Jul 03, 2016 Jeff Stern rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer-fiction
Highlights many points of contention that still exist in the science community today –the tension between pure and applied, the ethics of experimentation, and the consequences of commercialization. A fun read that gave me insight into the scientific world as it was in the early 20th century. ...more
Pat Roberts
Feb 16, 2016 Pat Roberts rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 20th-century, fiction
Martin Arrowsmith starts out his medical career with such high idealism. (And didn't we all go into our careers with just a few stars in our eyes? I, for one, thought I was going to change the world as an educator). But Martin has a tough time sticking to those ideals. Thopugh he was a much better researcher than practitioner, money and fame pulled him away from his first love in the medical world. The one person who never stopped believing in him and went wherever he decided to go was his long- ...more
Aug 26, 2015 Realini rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, pulitzer
Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
Awesome- a word that we hear often without care for its meaning is suitable here- I’d say

A few weeks ago I thought that Arrowsmith is the name of a rock band, which is not bad, albeit from now on I will not think of them when I hear this name.
Doctor Martin Arrowsmith is not just the hero of this marvelous novel, but the kind of hero that I love.
The book is so wonderful that I am bewildered to find on goodreads that the rating is below 4 stars, whereas for me it goes b
Todd Stockslager
Jun 04, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Review title: A recognizably modern and realistically three-dimensional character

Sinclair Lewis, by most biographical accounts, was an eccentric red-head with an acerbic and mercurial personality. He is best known for his examinations of hucksterism in all walks of life: small-town businessman (Babbit), populist religion (Elmer Gantry), and here medicine.

Martin Arrowsmith is a tightly-wound bright young man from Lewis's typical Midwest small town, who finds a spark of inspiration from a college
May 17, 2015 Alex rated it it was amazing
I love this book. Young Martin Arrowsmith in rural Ameria in the early 1900's decides to go to college for medicine and falls in love with scientific study in the lab, but turns his back on science to finish his medical degree and become a physician. In his search for meaning in life, he sets up a practice and gives up, becomes the head of public health and fails twice, works for the corporate commercial interests to finally have a decent paycheck, and then finally finds his place in a large pub ...more
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Tackling the Puli...: Arrowsmith (Sinclair Lewis, 1926) 18 33 May 26, 2014 01:59PM  
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Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1930 "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters." His works are known for their insightful and critical views of American capitalism and materialism between the wars. He is also respected for his strong characterizations of modern working women. H.L. Mencken wrote of him, "[If] the ...more
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