Martin Arrowsmith
Sinclair Lewis
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Martin Arrowsmith

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  3,747 ratings  ·  205 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 ri...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published 1938 by Jonathan Cape (first published January 1st 1925)
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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...more
Aug 04, 2008 Tyler rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
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
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...more
Dec 29, 2007 Lyn rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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...more
Exhausting, and not in a good way.
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
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
Kane Faucher
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
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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
Feb 15, 2014 Dhaval rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: medical students, physicians
Excuse me, you need your tonsils taken out. I have car payments and a mortgage to pay! Nearly a hundred years ago, Sinclair Lewis wrote a novel that examined the nuances and the unflattering aspects of the medical profession. Martin Arrowsmith, at times petulant and others brilliant, sets out to become a physician. Like new physicians everywhere, idealism meets reality, and you see the tug of war in Martin. The politics of life hits him and his principles are tested. You follow Martin through hi...more
Trever Bacon
After ready Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis I thought it would be about the band Arrowsmith. But it wasn't it was actually a book about Martin Arrowsmith, the novel is mainly talked about in America. Martin Arrowsmith goes to Medical school and dates a girl named Madeleine Fox, she is the type of girl that is very educated in science and literature. After a few chapter's talking about this girl, Martin moves on.

After ready Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis I thought it would be about the band Arrowsmith...more
Overall, I found it pretty boring. I did have a moment where my interest was peaked when I realized that the moral of the story was that scientific ethics are not always black and white, but this book did not leave a lasting impression on me, which is what I look for in a good book.
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.
Brian Barbour
I love poor Martin Arrowsmith and his Leora who spends most of the novel trailing behind him as he tries so desperately to keep from "selling out" to the establishment. A fantastic book, period.
Yes, I know it won the Pulitzer Prize. Yes, I know Sinclair Lewis wrote it. But it was still boring, boring, boring.
I found this 1925 novel to speak profoundly and relevantly to many of the struggles of modern day physicians – whether they be caught up in the rat race for money and pride, passionately pursuing the long-haul of basic science research, practicing rural family medicine, falling into the strong gravitational field of giant pharmaceuticals, climbing institutional hierarchies, running foundations, or working in global health.

Not only that, it was an entertaining vivisection of human nature all alon...more
No wonder this is considered "Great Literature". Truly moving, well worth the time it takes to read.
Jerry Sattin
Although I agree with those who found this novel tedious, I nevertheless find this to be a good book, not a great one. It takes up a variety of serious subjects - the pettiness of people whether they inhabit small towns, universities, big towns, research institutes. Those who are "successful" are more often the object of Lewis's irony than those who, like Leora, Wickett, and Arrowsmith, don't particularly care about success. At the same time, I found many of the characters unpersuasive or too on...more
A confused muddle. Hope Main Street was better.
Oct 01, 2008 Lindsay rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: American lit buffs, people who like books about doctors/scientists
In the introduction to this book, it says that Sinclair Lewis proved, in writing it, that American idealism was incompatible with tragedy. The hero, Martin Arrowsmith, is a quintessential American idealist: he's hardworking, smart, ambitious, stubborn and cheerful. He's a young doctor who vows during medical school that he, unlike his dull and greedy peers, will devote his life to Pure Science. The rest of his career following graduation is his attempt to live that dream while every job he accep...more
"Ordinarily, Gottlieb called him 'Arrowsmith' or 'You' or 'Uh.' When he was furious he called him, or any other student, 'Doctor.' It was only in high moments that he honored him with 'Martin,' and the boy trotted off blissfully, to try to find (but never to succeed in finding) the Why that made everything so" (52).

"'Well, but -- I'm too much absorbed in my work, or in doping stuff out, to waste time on morons. And it's a good thing. Most people above the grade of hog do so much chasing around...more
"Men of measured merriment! Men of measured merriment! Damn the great executives, the men of measured merriment, damn the men with careful smiles, damn the men that run the shops, oh, damn their measured merriment with measured merriment, and DAMN their careful smiles!"

Dr. Martin Arrowsmith sings this little ditty about two-thirds of the way through the novel, and it's perhaps the most concise summary of his personality. While he's an arguably brilliant scientist (who inexplicably struggles with...more
The great geneticist Seymour Benzer cites this novel as his first inspiration for becoming a scientist, and I was curious to find out why, so I read it too. Martin Arrowsmith is a typically heroic 1920s American figure driven by a single ideal: a belief in the scientific method and its potential to benefit humankind. With almost religious zeal he pursues his ideal, and the novel follows his pursuit, sometimes tediously, through his university studies, the challenges of establishing his medical p...more
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Tackling the Puli...: Arrowsmith (Sinclair Lewis, 1926) 18 30 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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