by Sinclair Lewis
List(s):"Racine Library List"
Category: "Fiction - General"
Year of Publication:1925
Date Added:08/12/2006
Date Read:12/02/2005
Notes: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 risk answering his true calling as a scientist and researcher.
My Rating: 7

Reviews for Arrowsmith

Review - Arrowsmith

The career or Martin Arrowsmith, doctor, and his love of pure scientific research over general practice or commercial endeavor. He attended the University of Winnemac where he studied under Professor Gottlieb, who specialized in research. With his share of successes and failures, Martin made his way through the studies, impressing Gottlieb with his potential but not always with his dedication.

Martin got engaged to society girl Madeline, but then met Leora, a nursing trainee and impulsively proposed to her also. He extricated himself from this dilemma by bringing the two women together and informing them of what he’d done. Maleline left, Leora stayed. They were married against the wishes of Leora’s family, then forced by the need to make a living, talked into moving to Wheatsylvania, Leora’s home town and opening a general practice.

Martin’s honesty and forthrightness rubbed some people the wrong way, but he was gaining the admiration of others when he decided that he could no longer bear not to be doing research. He and Leora moved to the Iowa city of Nautilus, where Martin got a job in the Department of Public Health, doing research while his boss, Dr. Pickerbaugh made the speeches and tried to get everyone to live healthier lives. Again, Martin’s honesty and insistence in doing the right thing ruffled feathers, but he was taken up by the rich people in town and so got a long for a time, in spite of his dalliance with Pickerbaugh’s daughter Orchid. But when Pickerbaugh was elected to Congress and Martin took over the department, his refusal to glad-hand everyone resulted in his forced ouster.

Martin worked for a year at a clinic in Chicago that made a lot of money doing unnecessary surgeries on rich folks, but he wasn’t happy. He moved to New York and became a researcher at the McGurk Institute where his old Professor Gottlieb worked. Martin’s research resulted in a possible antidote for the plague, and when the plague hit in a Caribbean island, the Arrowsmith’s traveled to test Martin’s work. He left Leora in a safe cottage and went to a village to test his cure. He had some success, and met Joyce, a rich New York woman who was volunteering. Martin resisted Joyce and sent for Leora, only to discover that she had caught the plague and died alone. He finished his work and returned to New York a hero but unsatisfied.

Not long after, he married Joyce. She tried to turn him into a cultured society man, but he resisted. Their love was real, but they came from different worlds. She built him a lab over the garage, but the constant interruptions kept him from his work. He finally gave up and left Joyce to work at an isolated lab with a fellow rebel he had met at McGurk. The book ends with him there, not worried about money or success but happy that he can do what he loves doing.

I like it more than I expected. Considerably more, although the ending was rather flat. Unlike many classics, at least in Martin and Leora I had people to root for. The writing was interesting, a bit stark and abrupt at times, but compelling.
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