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Arrowsmith

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  6,811 ratings  ·  434 reviews
1925. Illustrated with scenes from the Samuel Goldwyn Production, a United Artists Picture. Possibly the greatest satirist of his age, Lewis wrote novels that present a devastating picture of middle-class American life in the 1920s. Although he ridiculed the values, the lifestyles, and even the speech of his characters, there is often affection behind the irony. Sinclair's ...more
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Published March 1st 2005 by Kessinger Publishing (first published January 1925)
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Jamie Flower It didn't. Nobel Prizes for literatures are awarded to authors, not books. Maybe you are thinking of the Pulitzer Prize.
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  6,811 ratings  ·  434 reviews


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Judy
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Luís
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Novel in which the writer analyzes the adverse effects that mercantilist zeal may have on the man of science.
We can thus reveal, in the discursive fabric of the text, an apology for the values of the spirit, practically dying in a society in which everything becomes a tradable good. The whole novel structured around the concern of showing the protagonist's moral integrity and dignity. This fact gives the story an aura of idealism, not achieved in the author's previous works.
Lobstergirl
Oct 12, 2013 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
...more
Tyler
Jul 24, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: _anyone
Recommended to Tyler by: _Pulitzer Prize award
Shelves: literature
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
Blaine DeSantis
For me, this book was a major disappointment. Love Sinclair Lewis, heck I named my dog Babbitt in honor of his book by the same name. But Arrowsmith left me cold. It won the Pulitzer Prize and for what reason I cannot tell. I, personally, think it as for his body of work instead of this individual book.
To me the book should have been titled, Arrowsmith: A Good Life Wasted. The book has one redeeming character, Arrowsmith's wife, Leora, who sticks with him through good and bad, and always is at h
...more
Ted
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Small town doctor scales the heights of the scientific community. Pulitzer Prize winner.




... and then there's also


they could rock, but they couldn't spell


update: I'm abashed to say now that I will need to reacquire the book, since, having read Main Street, I hope to read/re-read all his best novels, of which Arrowsmith is one.

I am sorry to admit that this is one of the two three books I've read by Lewis, especially so since I grew up about 30 miles from Sauk Centre Minnesota, where he was born an
...more
Daniel Villines
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Humans as a species were never intended to live in our mass groupings of modern times. Not only are we too belligerent and crewel to one another, but our own biology serves to kill each other off. The only thing that has saved us from ourselves, that has provided us with some breathing room and has allowed us the space to mentally subdue the dangers of the crowd, is science. And by science, I really mean to say truth. The absolute kind of truth that serves as an absolute rock in a world largely ...more
Sara
3.5 stars, rounded down.

To truly appreciate Arrowsmith, you must appreciate satire, because much of this book is written a bit tongue in cheek. Martin Arrowsmith is a man who aspires to be a pure scientist, and struggles to do so in the face of commercialism, hubris and ambition. I must confess to not liking Martin universally. He is pompous at times, and he is cold and unfeeling at others. I wanted him to find a better balance between his dedication to his work and his personal relationships, p
...more
ALLEN
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been meaning to review ARROWSMITH after my second reading, when I experienced it with a group here at GR. In my opinion, this is one well-put-together realistic novel. After the satires of MAIN STREET and BABBITT, Sinclair Lewis wrote ARROWSMITH (1925), in part, to prove that he did not "lack spiritual gifts." It's also meticulously well-researched, based in no small part on the fact that Lewis's father was a "country doc" - a plain g.p. It's long and involved, but the story of how Martin A ...more
Scott
Apr 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Chrissie
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)
...more
Lyn
Dec 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
booklady
Martin Arrowsmith, M.D. had everything going for him and everything to figure out at the same time. The bright and scientifically minded Arrowsmith makes his way from a small town in the Midwest to the upper echelons of the scientific community with plenty of bumps along the way. For all his braininess, Martin lacks any social skills as well as any real desire to acquire them. Instead, he begins to realize his real hunger is for genuine scientific research, something still in it’s infancy in mid ...more
Shane
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Phrodrick
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sinclair Lewis’s Arrowsmith was something of a break through novel. It is considered the first novel to directly address science and medicine as a plot driver. It is also a character study but of a particular kind of person. Not just a scientist, or a medical practitioner, but a person with an avocation. Lewis allows us to mature with a very believable, flawed human as he acts as a common, every-man finding and facing his destiny. Martin Arrowsmith Is not an out sized hero. He is someone rather ...more
Kane Faucher
Aug 09, 2011 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
George
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable, engaging read about Dr. Martin Arrowsmith’s career as a physician and medical researcher in the early 1900s in the USA. Arrowsmith loves working in a laboratory as a bacteriologist, however he marries Leora and decides to establish himself as a country doctor in the small town of Wheatsylvannia. His lack of bedside manners and diplomacy impede his career prospects. After working as a country doctor, then as a public health officer, Arrowsmith fortuitously gains work with Dr Gottlie ...more
Irene
May 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the first decades of the 20th century, the reader is given a glimpse into the medical profession at that time. We follow Martin Arrowsmith from medical school, to country doctor, to small town health inspector, to big money pathologist to passionate scientist in bacteriology. Along the way, he marries, drinks too much, struggles with the direction of his life, gains fame, loses friends and so forth. This was a bit too slow moving and wordy for my current mood.
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
...more
Dorie
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantabulous
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!
Jeremy
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
WK
Jun 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No wonder this is considered "Great Literature". Truly moving, well worth the time it takes to read.
Tim
Sinclair Lewis won the Pulitzer Prize for Arrowsmith in 1926. The story is set in the early 1900''s and is about a young man named Martin Arrowsmith. He goes to college to become a doctor but deep down his passion is laboratory research. He goes through several failed relationships as he is totally consumed with his work as a research scientist looking for his next big breakthrough. This book moved along slowly with the hope that Martin might find some balance in his life, but he never really di ...more
D.H. Jonathan
It took me forever to finish this book, but of course, I experienced some of life's upheavals since starting it. It was a fascinating study of a man struggling to devote his life to science, with his failures and his successes. It was more intellectually stimulating rather than emotionally engaging, although one event did cause me a great deal of sympathy for Dr. Arrowsmith. But I won't spoil it for anyone...
Nadia Zeemeeuw
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Witty, sarcastic but deeply moving and sad read.
Irene Duba
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
come for the Rockefeller connection, stay for the humor, compelling characters, and philosophizing about science! For a book written in the 1920s, it's wild (and kind of disheartening) how many of the issues raised about the science world felt relevant to today. A silly yet thought-provoking read for this aspiring biologist.
Kelly
Apr 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book during the Corona Pandemic of Spring 2020. Some of the parallels are amazing. I think this is Lewis' best book as Martin Arrowsmith is a heroic character. His other books are so cynical as to be devoid of heroes. Very well written and thought provoking.
Elizabeth
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
Jenny Lim
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“It cannot be said, in this biography of a young man who has no degree a hero, who regarded himself as a seeker after truth yet who stumbled and slid back all his life and bogged himself in every obvious morass..” (pg 45) Lewis writes with vigorous creativity and precision while puncturing about the arrogance and selfishness in humans. Sinclair Lewis may have declined the Pulitzer Prize, however, don’t decline the chance to unravel this.

This novel follows Dr. Martin Arrowsmith during the 1920s
...more
Jane Erickson
I wanted to love this novel. But hovering in the background while I read was this irritating question, "Why don't I like this more?" The story kept me engaged when it was in my hands, but I never felt the urge to pick it back up once I set it down.

It had strengths. I was inspired by the protagonist, Martin Arrowsmith, a man committed to the ideals of science, driven by a relentless and passionate pursuit of truth. He revered precision, thoroughness, and with an admirable patience, dedicated him
...more
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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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