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3.81  ·  Rating details ·  6,257 ratings  ·  358 reviews
With an afterword by E. L. Doctorow--the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of one man's pursuit of intellectual freedom in the face of ignorance and corruption, from the author of Babbit

Arrowsmith, the most widely read of Sinclair Lewis's novels, is the incisive portrait of a man passionately devoted to science. As a bright, curious boy in a small Midwestern town, Martin Arrow
Paperback, 459 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by Signet Book (first published 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)
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3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,257 ratings  ·  358 reviews

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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
Oct 12, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, own

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
Jul 24, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  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
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
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
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
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)
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.
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
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
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
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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
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 doctor" - a plain g.p. It's long and involved, but the story of how Marti ...more
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!
D.H. Jonathan
Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it
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...
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
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
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
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
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, medicine
The fictional life and growth of a doctor. A lot of the details still apply, and I know many doctors with similar anecdotes. A fine portrait of medical live in service to others.
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.
May 21, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Exhausting, and not in a good way.
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
Kelly ...
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, pulitzer
This is my first read of a Sinclair Lewis novel but it will not be the last. It is seriously funny, sarcastic, smart and biting. I like the way Lewis writes. His protagonist was a bit of a joke ... he seemed to think more of himself than anyone else thought of him (even the reader). And it made the book so good! Following Arrowsmith as he moved many, many times in his pursuit of what he called science but what seemed to be more about ego and acceptance was a really fun experience. And, although ...more
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ernst Hafen
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
What a superb novel describing the life, passions and anxieties of a person striving to be a true scientist. Not only does is provide insight into scientific discoveries in the pre-antibiotic years of the early 20th century, it also provides a fascinating and colourful picture of life, family, love and emerging business at this time. Each of the figures becomes alive. Leora, Martin Arrowsmith's first wife and love of his life, is careless in her appearance but has the uncanny ability to accept p ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lewis je pro mě jedním z objevů posledních let, v podstatě co jsem četl, to bylo dobré. Arrowsmithovi dávám o hvězdičku míň, protože:

1) Babbitt je zkrátka ještě lepší,
2) téma smrtící epidemie a souvisejících existenciálních otázek zpracoval lépe Camus,
3) podle mě kreslí až příliš zidealizovanou postavu vědce jako spasitele lidstva a dokonalý prototyp člověka,
4) popisuje zoufale stereotypně ženské postavy.

I tak se mi to ale fakt líbilo, zejména první část vývoje Smithe a jeho rozhodování/stř
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-clubs, fiction
I understand the awarding of the Pulitzer for this novel, and I also understand the difficulty the modern reader faces in reading it. Language and literature from a hundred years ago are different from that of today. Sinclair Lewis' targets, however, are just as prevalent now as then. It just requires more concentration on the reader's part to stick with Martin Arrowsmith since Lewis had a co-writer for the scientific sections. I read it for a series of discussions about science in literature.
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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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