Novel by Sinclair Lewis, published in 1925 and awarded a Pulitzer Prize, which Lewis declined.
Martin Arrowsmith attends the University of Winnemac, in a Midwestern state, where he is influenced by Max Gottlieb, a sincere though sardonic bacteriologist. At college he marries Leora Tozer, a nursing student. They settle in Wheatsylvania, N.D., but his medical practice there is so small that he is forced to accept a post in the health department of Nautilus, Iowa. Disillusioned by the charlatanry of his superior, Dr. Almus Pickerbaugh. Martin leaves this post to enter a fashionable Chicago clinic. After further disappointment, he joins Gottlieb at the McGurk Institute in New York, hoping to find in altruistic research the relief he desires from publicity-seeking and money-grabbing commercial medicine. Martin is now tolerably happy, disturbed only by the patronizing visits of Capitola McGurk, wife of the founder, and by the demand that he turn out results to make newspaper copy. His actual discovery of an “X Principle,” an organism that preys on bacteria, is not publicized until a Frenchman has announced a similar discovery. When anepidemic breaks out on the West Indian island of St. Hubert, Gottlieb urges Martin to seize this opportunity to test the efficacy of his “bacteriophage.” With Leora and Gustaf Sondelius, a titanic Swedish scientist, he goes to the stricken settlement. Leora and Sondelius die of the plague, after which Martin, instead of maintaining rigid scientific controls, administers the serum indiscriminately, thus destroying the results of his experiment. He returns to New York to marry a rich widow, whose social life interferes with his work. Finally, with Terry Wickett, an uncouth but conscientious chemist, he leaves the McGurk Institute and his wife, establishing himself on a Vermont farm to manufacture serum and pursue his research.
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Sinclair Lewis (1885—1951) American novelist