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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

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 Arrowsmith spends his free time in old Doc Vickerson’s office avidly devouring medical texts. Destined to become a physician and a researcher, he discovers that societal forces of ignorance, greed, and corruption can be as life-threatening as the plague. 

Part satire, part morality tale, Lewis’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel illuminates the mystery and power of science while giving enduring life to a singular American hero’s struggle for integrity and intellectual freedom in a small-minded world.

With an Introduction by Sally E. Parry 
and an Afterword by E. L. Doctorow

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451530868
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/04/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 123,695
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.88(h) x 1.21(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Harry Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951) was born in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, the son of a country doctor. After graduating from Yale in 1907, he went to New York, tried freelance work for a time, and then worked in a variety of editorial positions from the East Coast to California. Main Street (1920) was his first successful novel. In the decade that followed, Lewis published four other acclaimed novels of social criticism—Babbitt (1922), Arrowsmith (1925), Elmer Gantry (1927), and Dodsworth (1929). In 1930 he became the first American to win the Nobel Prize for literature. He continued to write both novels and plays for another two decades, publishing his last work, World So Wide (1951), shortly before his death in Rome.

Sally E. Parry is Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, and Director of General Education at Illinois State University. She is currently the Executive Director of the Sinclair Lewis Society and editor of the Sinclair Lewis Society Newsletter. She has edited two collections of short stories by Sinclair Lewis, Go East, Young Man: Sinclair Lewis on Class in America (2005) and The Minnesota Stories of Sinclair Lewis (2005), and with Robert L. McLaughlin, written We’ll Always Have the Movies: American Cinema During World War II (2006). 

E. L. Doctorow is one of America’s preeminent men of letters. His novels include The Waterworks, Ragtime, The Book of Daniel, Loon Lake, World’s Fair, Lives of the Poets, Billy Bathgate, and Welcome to Hard Times. His work has garnered the National Book Critics Circle Award twice, the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, and the William Dean Howells medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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Arrowsmith 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Arrowsmith' follows the life of a man by that name. He is a doctor who discovers what he calls the X Principle, and what another terms 'Bacteriophage.' His wife does from the plague when he attempts to experiment with phage to heal people with the bubonic disease so famous from the Medieval Ages. While things fall apart for Martin, other people prosper. It is interesting to read about the characters who influence Martin Arrowsmith, especially the rejected intellectual Dr. Gottlieb.
Lucia_Ginesin More than 1 year ago
Some novels read like a movie, others like poetry, Arrowsmith is a symphony in prose. As a great admirer of Hemingway and Steinbeck I was challenged into sticking with Main Street and then Arrowsmith; in the end I enjoyed the books tremendously.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The novel ARROWSMITH begins with one third of a page not obviously related to what follows. We are shown a turning point in the life of Martin Arrowsmith's 14 year old grandmother Emmy. The family is migrating west by wagon through Ohio. Emmy's mother has just been buried. The ailing father begs his daughter to break off and head south to Cincinnati where his brother might give them refuge. The girl assumes charge of her family including noisy, tattered siblings and declares that no one will take them in, adding, 'Going West. They's a whole lot of new things I aim to be seeing.'*** Does the life of Martin Arrowsmith replicate great grandmother Emmy's? Where is he heading? What are his temptations to stray?*** We meet Martin, in 1897, a bright boy, aged 14. He hangs around the local small town doctor in Elk Mills, mythical midwestern State of Winnemac. Martin awes his friends by bandaging bruises and dissecting squirrels. Later he went to college and prepared to become a doctor. In medical school he is tempted by competing role models among students and teachers. He oscillated between a future as a consciously upwardly mobile, prosperous, leisured M.D. or a single-minded researcher into the root causes of ill health. The German Jewish professor and bacteriologist Max Gottlieb preached an unrelenting gospel of science, objectivity and mastery of detail. Martin's fellow medical student Terry Wickett will reinforce that creed at various times in Arrowsmith's future. *** Martin Arrowsmith was an ordinary American: anything but a Renaissance man, but with boundless curiosity and a willingness to work hard at something once he believed in it--which in the end proved to be basic scientific research in a celibate male community of two in backwoods Vermont. Martin Arrowsmith had two wives: Leora, the first, demanded only marital fidelity, got it from him and in return supported him selflessly and unobtrusively wherever his often shifting goals carried them. To Chicago. To New York. Their only child was still born. Leora died on the Caribbean isle where Martin was heroically combatting and researching plague. Recently widowed Joyce, by contrast, the second and very wealthy Mrs Arrowsmith, he had met and dallied with during the plague. Their marriage produced one son and a moderate amount of reasonable efforts by Joyce to help her husband acquire social graces, learn to relax and to cool his passion for pure totally absorbing research.*** In the end Arrowsmith is persuaded that pure research into disease is what he is meant to do. And a wife and child are not merely irrelevant but too time consuming and distracting from his destined goal. He therefore abandons family and joins his old friend and Socratic gadfly Terry Wickett to do celibate science in a primitive woodsy cottage in New England. They envision expanding to a like-minded community of no more than eight males.*** That is the tale of MARTIN ARROWSMITH, by some accounts the most widely read novel of Sinclair Lewis. -OOO-
JFBallenger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This books is one of the classic and most generative focal points for the mythos of the modern scientist, and it is thus not surprising that it is steeped in a romantic view of science. Indeed, the ethos of true science is pretty much the only thing that is spared Lewis¿s vitriolic lampooning.(One of the problems with the book is that Lewis¿s satire of small-minded country bumpkins, the small-town "booboisie," and the callow pretensions of urban sophisticates is that it is all too easy. He¿s spot on for what¿s laughably and disturbingly empty about these types, but mostly misses the possibility that there is much redeeming about them.)But his portrayal of the true scientist¿s calling is suffused with a suffocating masculine romanticism that I found nauseating. By the end of the book, we learn that not only does the true scientists need to eschew the lure of money and fame, cling to a steely detachment from normal human feeling, avoid distracting entanglements with women if possible or shamelessly ignore and exploit your wife¿s devotion if you must marry, but you need to do all this while embracing the rigors of a manly passion for roughing it. At novel's end, our hero is pursuing his cutting edge science in a rough-hewn log cabin laboratory in the Vermont woods. (I wish I were kidding.) So for all of its brutally comic (and admit sometimes brilliant and hilarious) satire, the book boils down to a syrupy masculinity that¿s pretty hard to swallow. Or to keep down. Read it if you must -- for historically interest in the 20th century glorification of the scientist. But keep a bag handy.
mikedraper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Martin Arrowsmith enters medical school in the American midwest in the early nineteen hundreds.We see him become accustomed to the social and educational issues, which clubs to join and the friends he associates with. He goes through med school with the ardor of a man pursuing a lifelong dream. When he takes a class in bacteriology, he forms a lifelong love for that study.Needing a break from studies, he goes to the city of Zenith and meets Madeline Fox, a woman in grad school and searching for a husband. They become engaged and Madeline proceeds to attempt to change him to fit the image of what she wants, criticizing his clothing, habits and manner of speaking.Later in med school he goes to Zenith General Hospital and meets a nursing student Leora Tozer. They find that they have much in common and truly enjoy each other. Martin also becomes engaged to her. Not knowing what to do, with two engagements at the same time, he introduces the women to each other and from the reaction Madeline has for Leora, Martin chooses Leora.We follow Martin through his med school, marriage to Leora and settling down in the town where Leora was from in North Dakota. It is interesting to see him in family practice and attempting to win favor with these farm people who have preconceived ideas of medicine, pharmaceutical drugs, the use of alcohol and Martin's life. After a year, he moves to a city where he will have more freedom.Martin changes jobs a number of times, trying to follow a dream of researching and not having to answer to officials about his research. He joins the military in WWI and later works with trying to find a cure for bubonic plague.Well written, perhaps a bit too wordy but a nice touch of life in the American midwest in the early nineteenth century.
curls_99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Arrowsmith follows the life of Dr. Martin Arrowsmith as he moves from reading Gray's Anatomy in a doctor's office in a small Midwest town to an unhappy doctor and, finally, to one of the world's leading scientist. Arrowsmith move up the ranks as a scientist with the unwavering support of his wife, Leora. He spends most of his life skeptical of most doctors of the time who practiced medicine superficially - convincing people of ailment so that they would have to pay for treatment - and caring very little for finding out exactly why illnesses and diseases occurred.When I finished this book, I breathed a contented sigh of relief and for a moment felt very happy that Martin Arrowsmith was finally able to find the life he had so desired all of his life. He spent his entire life searching for the thing that would make him happiest and actually found it. But then, after I really thought about it, I realized that he had accomplished this at great cost. He was an incredibly selfish man. Along the way his searching cost the death of his faithful and loyal first wife, whom he often neglected, and the abandonment of his second wife and his only child. He hurt many people along the way. So, my question is, is it truly worth it? Our natural inclination as humans is to search for what will make us happy. Lewis leaves us with the assumption that Arrowsmith died happy, no matter how he hurt others along the way. Is that reality? Is it possible to search for our own happiness and find it if we end up virtually alone?Lewis's book, like his others, carries heavy overtones of sarcasm - often resulting in comedic scenarios. He was highly critical of American society and capitalism at the turn of the century. The book was a bit long, though, for all of the criticisms it containing. I got his point long before reaching the 440th page. Interestingly, Lewis declined the Pulitzer because he felt that these kinds of prizes caused authors to write for the prize committee and not for excellence. He also felt 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."
Joycepa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
ArrowsmithSinclair LewisPulitzer Prize winner for fiction for 1926.Martin Arrowsmith is an idealistic young man born around the turn of the century in the US Midwest who studies medicine but finds that his real love is research, especially into bacteriology. He struggles against the mores and complacency, the veniality of society of his day.Unlike the Pulitzer winners of previous years, Arrowsmith is one of the most pretentious, stuffy, humorless and overwrought books I have ever read. The characters are at best stereotypes and most often are merely stick figures so that Lewis can write over-the-top speeches glorifying becoming rich through medicine or business, the shallowness of almost all scientists, tub-thumping promotion of medicine and research fro either self-or institutional aggrandizement, or to expose the frivolity and shallowness of the societal elite of the day. It¿s been done before and since and it¿s been done much, much better.The tone of the book is shrill harping, with pages of inane speeches or dialogue that is supposed to illustrate the crassness of whatever caricature Lewis is ranting about at the time, whether it be medical students who want nothing more than rich private practices, clownish public health figures who are nothing more than local boosters and who wind up in Congress, stuffy heads of research institutes--you name it, Lewis has the inane dialogue for such a figure--and for pages and pages and pages.From time to time--far too infrequently--there are flashes of humor such as the conversations that take place at dinner in the home of Arrowsmith¿s in-laws. They are incredibly funny, but as with all the other stereotypes, Lewis has either contempt or outright hatred for these figures. The humor is achieved through mockery.When he isn¿t hammering on his figure of his scorn of the moment, he switches to the opposite end of the spectrum to rhapsodize about those terribly Few Pure Men of Science who give up everything for the solitary joys of pure research, absolutely disinterested in any sort of worldly reward. The prototype of the three characters in the book is Gotliebb, a stereotype of a turn-of-the century German Jewish intellectual who cares for nothing or no one but pure research. Gottlieb is a widower who enthralled by his research, never even noticed his wife was dying until she did and then more or less because there was no one to take care of him except his spinster daughter Miriam. He lives in a garret, cares nothing for food or other human beings except for a few European scientists who meet his lofty criteria of Pure Scientific Research.Such people never existed--not then and not now. The closest to this impossible stereotype would e the naturalists of the 19th century, who were not research scientists but world travelers in the quest for describing the natural world, aka Wallace and Bates; Darwin had a job.The elevation of Science to religion is not a new phenomenon but Lewis is an example of the worst of the breed. His ¿heroes¿ are totally unrealistic. Towards the end, Arrowsmith and his great friend Terry go off into the wilderness--literally--and set up a research lab in a forest near a lake, roughing it, making sera that they sell only to physicians with the purest of motives in oder to survive. It is absolutely unbelievable.The only decent section of the book is the description, towards the end, of the outbreak and propagation of a bubonic plague epidemic on a fictional West Indies island. Even then, Lewis gets into Good Guys--a few selfless physicians--Bad Guys--99.999% of the official world, but fortunately that doesn¿t detract too much from the quite interesting account--until Arrowsmith gets into the act. This section is the only reason I found to rate the book with even a half-star.Supposedly Lewis was trying for some spiritual ideal, but if that is the case, like so many others of that type, he descends into what is practically venomous diatribes against
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 patients, Lewis throws many less noble temptations and self-deceptions in Martin's path. The attractions of financial security, recognition, even wealth and power distract Arrowsmith from his original plan to follow in the footsteps of his first mentor, Max Gottlieb, a brilliant but abrasive bacteriologist. His derailment from his ideals, while differing in the details, reminds me a bit of Lydgate in Middlemarch.In the course of the novel Lewis describes many aspects of medical training, medical practice, scientific research, scientific fraud, medical ethics, public health, and of both personal and professional conflicts that are still relevant today. Professional jealousy, institutional pressures, greed, stupidity, and negligence are all satirically depicted, and Martin himself is exasperatingly self-involved. But there is also tireless dedication, and respect for the scientific method and intellectual honesty. The result is an engaging novel that deserved the Pulitzer which the author rejected.
ennie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Read this classic in school
Asperula on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sinclair Lewis evokes full-blown cynicsim at all aspects of society - health care, marriage, business, military.
miketroll on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Classic novel by one of the great American authors of the 20th Century.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of course, this a great book. But, this NOOK edition is grossly defective in that much of the punctuation is absent. Lewis' elegant sentences, laced with descriptive phrases, become difficult to read with omitted commas, dashes, and other punctuation which are present in the original and also in another NOOK edition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago