Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Martin Arrowsmith” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
Martin Arrowsmith
Sinclair Lewis
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Martin Arrowsmith

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  6,022 Ratings  ·  337 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, 480 pages
Published 1938 by Jonathan Cape (first published 1925)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Martin Arrowsmith, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Hari Brandl Apparently, the people on the Nobel Prize committee did not feel this is an awful book, which is to say: taste in literature, as in everything, is an…moreApparently, the people on the Nobel Prize committee did not feel this is an awful book, which is to say: taste in literature, as in everything, is an individual matter.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
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
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
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
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
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
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
Free download available at Faded Page.

This work is in the Canadian public domain, but may be under copyright in some countries. If you live outside Canada, check your country's copyright laws. IF THE BOOK IS UNDER COPYRIGHT IN YOUR COUNTRY, DO NOT DOWNLOAD OR REDISTRIBUTE THIS FILE.
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
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
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
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
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 doctor" - a plain g.p. It's long and involved, but the story of how Marti ...more
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.
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.
Sarah Boyle
I went into this novel optimistically, as Sinclair Lewis was the very first writer to ever win a Nobel Prize in literature, but I found it to be a bit disappointing. I did have to read this 450-page book in less than a week for a seminar on the history of doctoring in the United States, which may have contributed to my lack of enthusiasm for it. This is a dense book that outlines Martin Arrowsmith's work as a medical practitioner in the early 20th century in excruciating detail (although I wasn' ...more
Rajesh CNB
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sinclair Lewis has created Arrowsmith as a Journey from imperfection to perfection. And he ends the story as though he has left the trail, parted with dear Dr. Martin Arrowsmith and the rest of the community, but their journey would go on. There is no glorious victory of the good over evil. There is no hero who wins over the nin existent villain. There's just Arrowsmith and Terry working on their quinine and perfecting their technique. There's just all the others whose life simply moves forward ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Tackling the Puli...: Arrowsmith (Sinclair Lewis, 1926) 18 36 May 26, 2014 01:59PM  
  • The Store
  • Early Autumn: A Story of a Lady
  • The Able McLaughlins
  • In This Our Life
  • Scarlet Sister Mary
  • Journey in the Dark
  • Years of Grace
  • Honey in the Horn
  • The Late George Apley
  • Lamb in His Bosom
  • His Family
  • Now in November
  • Dragon's Teeth I (World's End)
  • Guard of Honor
  • Alice Adams
  • Laughing Boy: A Navajo Love Story
  • The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford
  • The Edge of Sadness
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
More about Sinclair Lewis

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Take Me with You
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty
    $7.49 $1.99
  • The Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Her Sister's Shoes (Sweeney Sisters #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Rock Harbor Collection: Without a Trace, Beyond a Doubt, Into the Deep, Cry in the Night, and Silent Night (Rock Harbor #1-5)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • A Thousand Tomorrows (Cody Gunner, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Shoeless Joe
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Death in Venice
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Blonde
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ever After (Lost Love, #2)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Rescue
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Lords of Discipline
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Sheltering Sky
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Gena/Finn
    $13.99 $1.99
  • A Charles Martin Collection: When Crickets Cry, Chasing Fireflies, and Wrapped in Rain
    $14.99 $3.99
  • Remember Tuesday Morning (9/11, #3)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Scavenger's Daughters (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Under the Udala Trees
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Streets Have No King
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Passion
    $11.00 $1.99
  • This Dark Road to Mercy
    $10.24 $1.99
  • The Language of Hoofbeats
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Not Perfect: A Novel
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Seekers (Kent Family Chronicles, #3)
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Don Quixote
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Essex Serpent
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Storycatcher
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Domestic Violets
    $9.24 $1.99
  • The Devil Wears Prada
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Half a Heart
    $4.99 $2.49
  • The Keeper of Secrets: A Novel
    $9.24 $1.99
  • A Garden of Earthly Delights (Wonderland Quartet, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Golden Notebook
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Life of Christ
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Good Mother
    $5.74 $1.99
  • The Palest Ink (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters Prequel)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Go: A Coming of Age Novel
    $4.99 $1.99
  • As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Just a Drop of Water
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Child in Time
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Lowcountry Stranger (Sweeney Sisters Series Book 2)
    $2.99 $0.99
  • The Man in 3B
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Enemy Women
    $9.74 $1.99
  • Save Me
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Better Nate Than Ever (Better Nate Than Ever #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Time Bomb
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Heat and Light: A Novel
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Reunion
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles)
    $16.99 $1.99
  • Stay Up With Me
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Loser
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Map and the Territory
    $8.99 $2.99
  • You Know Me Well
    $7.09 $2.99
  • Father's Day
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Skeletons at the Feast
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Even Now (Lost Love, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street: A Novel
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Moonlight Palace
    $3.99 $0.99
  • This Bright Beauty
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Intervention (An Intervention Novel)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Star Sand
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Secrets of Nanreath Hall
    $11.74 $1.99
“It is one of the major tragedies that nothing is more discomforting than the hearty affection of the Old Friends who never were friends.” 36 likes
“I was feeling rational and restless, which is horrible for watching movies” 8 likes
More quotes…