4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Fans of the Sherlock Holmes series may be as surprised as I was by the complete change of style that this novel represents for its author. Gone are the formulaic and formal language, the stilted dialogue, and the gamesmanship between author and reader that characterize the Holmes novels, however delightful and successful those may be as mysteries. Instead, we see Doyle letting his imagination run free in a sci-fi romp that is both fun and funny, and often thoughtful. Written in 1912, during an eight-year hiatus from his Sherlock Holmes novels, and six years after his last "historical novel," The Lost World is the first of five works involving temperamental Professor Edward Challenger, a scientist investigating evolution and related subjects.
Challenger is a scientific outcast, vilified for his most recent paper, in which he claimed to have seen dinosaurs and other pre-historic creatures in a remote area of South America, but which he refuses to locate on a map. Blaming the press for much of the controversy over his research, he despises reporters, and regularly assaults them. Young Ed Malone, a reporter looking for more excitement than he is getting on his regular beat, manages to make a connection with Challenger, after passing a test of his mettle.
Along with two other scientists, Elizabeth Summerlee and Lord John Roxton, they with Challenger to the mysterious plateau in Brazil where he claims to have seen extraordinary beasts believed dead for millions of years. Malone's newspaper, which partially funded the expedition, expects him to send daily reports of his adventures by messenger back to "civilization. These form much of the novel's narrative.
The place where Challenger has made his discoveries, which the other scientists are soon able to verify, is at the base of a high plateau in the jungle which has protected it from intrusion by man. This self-contained universe has protected creatures that have become extinct elsewhere. The scientists' often death-defying thrills--with canoes going over falls, shooting by headhunters, vengeance taken by one of the guides for past crimes, a war to the death between two separate, but related, species on the evolutionary tree, attacks by pre-historic creatures, and even a love story--make this novel non-stop fun to read. Far more "relaxed" in style and more imaginative in content than the novels for which Doyle is now (justifiably) famous, The Lost World, written almost a hundred years ago, builds on our universal spirit of adventure and our never-ending fascination with dinosaurs and their behavior. n Mary Whipple
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2009
This story feels like it should be set in Victorian times, but in fact was written in 1912 and even references motor cars. The tale is about a famous scientist who claims that he has discovered a lost world in South America where dinosaurs still exist. Mocked by fellow scientists and the public at large, the scientist challenges volunteers to visit the lost world. One of those volunteers, a young journalist, accepts the challenge to prove he is a man of adventure to his girlfriend, a woman who has told him she will only marry such a gung-ho type. The rest of the book is taken up with the trip to the lost world and the lost world itself. I don't want to spoil the narrative so won't go into detail. However, the lost world is an amazing place and its existence not beyond the bounds of possibility, particularly at the time the book was written, when there still remained unkown territories on the earth. The levels of excitement and terror are palapable throughout, and the eeriness and sense of foreboding of the lost world are all beautifully described by Conan Doyle. The fact that this is a short book with no padding means that the reader is fully exposed to the adventure and fully immersed in it. Not an all time classic, but a memorable and exciting read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2009
Curious book this. The cover of this new version is real retro. I expected a book with the usual (from Edgar Rice Burroughs books anyhow) misty forests teeming with an unimaginable variety of monsters, most of them predators, but this book seems to go to the opposite extreme. It is a travelogue of the whole adventure. It thankfully skips mundane times and there is no labouring of perilous situations, and the book is a pleasant and surprising read because of it. The monsters such as they are (it says at the end there were 12 species encountered) were reasonable and sensibly placed and populated - mainly herbivores who were still dangerous, and the predators don't act mindlessly. All in all, a nice adventure that focussed on the humans, and unlike its descendants was actually a bit short of dinosaurs.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 2011
It hardly seems worth outlining the plot of The Lost World. There have been so many different versions on the television that most people will know that this is the story of a group of explorers who find themselves trapped on a South American plateau that is inhabited by a curious mix of creatures, ranging from dinosaurs to hominids.
This, the original, gives more of the back-story and the motivations of the various characters, including the irascible Professor Challenger, the hunter Lord Roxton and the lovelorn Ed Malone. Although Conan Doyle is, of course, famous as the creator of Sherlock Holmes this is a story in a very different vein, and Conan Doyle's tongue is very firmly in his cheek. Challenger and Roxton are caricatures, and both the academic community and journalism are mercilessly mocked. There is even some heavy handed humour, such as the bout of fisticuffs between Malone and Challenger, and the comparison between Challenger and the king of the ape-men. The book was written in 1912, and perhaps Conan Doyle was trying to alleviate some of the tension that was building across Europe prior to the outbreak of war in 1914.
Be that as it may, some parts of the book will offend modern sensibilities. For example women have a minor (and not particulaly edifying role), the fate of the ape-men is quite repugnant and there is casual racism (in books of this period, having a character who is a, "half breed," usually means trouble, and that is what transpires in this case); and nowadays, of course, the notion of an undiscovered area teeming with pre-historic life seems preposterous.
The writing is smooth, and the story full of twists and turns, but to extract the maximum enjoyment from the book it is best to imagine yourself back in 1912 and to read it in spirit it was intended - as a light divertissement.
on 1 June 2013
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's depiction of an area of the South American rainforest that still harbours prehistoric life is legendary. The writer, best-known for his Sherlock Holmes stories, also dabbled in science fiction and medical writing, and although in his later life he wasted a large amount of time dabbling with the occult and the spiritual, that didn't affect his prolific productivity.
The Lost World is similar in premise to the Michael Crichton novel of the same name, and I can't help but wonder where to draw the line between imitation and plagiarism. Professor Challenger, an imposing old man based on the real-life figure of William Rutherford, discovers a lost world, which is populated by prehistoric life.
The Professor is joined by journalist Ed Malone, fellow scientist Professor Summerlee and the adventurous Lord John Roxton. Together, the party travels to the place where Challenger found evidence of the lost world, and what they find there is astonishing.
Interestingly, Professor Challenger returned in a number of other Conan Doyles novels, including The Poison Belt and The Land of Mist, the latter of which is about the supernatural and comes about as a result of Conan Doyle's spurious spiritual beliefs. He's a good character - bull-headed, entertaining, intellectual and aggressive, all at the same time. You'll like him.
In all seriousness, this book is phenomenal - as good as, or even better than, the Sherlock Holmes stories. I strongly recommend you buy a copy and check it out - just beware of the dinosaurs and don't get caught by the missing links.
on 22 May 2010
It's been almost a century since Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World was published, but you wouldn't know it. It bears no sign of age or decrepitude; the text is as alive and surprising now as it ever was. This is a breathless, brilliant adventure, that is equal parts thrilling, imaginative and fun. I don't see a lot of five-star reviews for it, which is a shame; I can't think of a criteria it doesn't meet.
The hero is a journalist, Edward Malone, whose would-be girlfriend won't give him the time of day unless he becomes a more adventurous person. Poor Edward winds up interviewing the certifiable Professor Challenger: a scientist who claims to have discovered dinosaurs in a remote part of South America, and who flies into a violent rage at the slightest provocation. This, in itself, ought to be enough to win the fickle Gladys's heart. Nonetheless, Edward takes the plunge and goes on an expedition to prove or disprove the wild ravings of Challenger, taking with him a disapproving scientist, Summerlee, and a heroic hunter, Lord John Roxton. They discover more than just dinosaurs on their trip, which ought to go some way to showing off the sheer imaginative range of the story.
The dinosaur sequences are, of course, marvellous. There's a particularly thrilling moment where our heroes must sneak past a group of nightmarish pterodactyls, and certain carnivorous dinosaurs are so monstrous, they nearly defy description. But that's not to suggest Conan Doyle's Lost World is merely a pit of horrifying monsters; it is also a vibrant, beautiful landscape, filled with life of all kinds. Imagination runs absolutely rampant there, and it was a joy to experience.
The Lost World is bereft of padding. It hurtles along. It's cinematic stuff, and it does not let up. The sheer sense of fun remained with me after it finished, along with the feel of adventure. Not since H. Rider Haggard's She has a novel left me in such high spirits.
It's spectacular. But if you don't believe the ravings of a madman, well, procure a boat and set off for South America yourself. You won't regret it.
NB: Just a word on this particular edition. It's very pretty indeed. Just look at it!
on 20 December 2012
I read this book for a numbers of reasons varying from wanting to read a great classical tale of adventure to a study in the art of writing.
From the beginning, I will let you know that I am big fan of the 1960's film with Michael Rennie & Claude Rains, it was this which partially aroused my curiosity. When I saw the 2001 film with Bob Hoskins & Peter Falk, I noticed vast plot differences and wanted to know more about the original story. To the extent that I contacted the Conan Doyle society.
The film was brilliant but after reading the book, I must say the later film is closer to the original story, yet not entirely all there. Both are worthy of getting to know in their own rights but other than basic characters and plot line, they bare little likenesses.
My next read is going to be something a lot lighter. It will be the new Titus adventure by Carol Wills. I am well known for my ghost stories on line, but I am a very big fan of Carol's and can always read about our friend Titus, the little blue tit.
Alan Place (author of Chronicles of Mark Johnson)
on 21 April 2012
I must start this review by telling you this was the first book I've read by choice, the first ever one, the only reason I have read books in the past were in school. Essentially the only reason I started the book was to select a statement for my uni course, but I found the beginning so interesting and inviting I felt the urge to read on, and I did not regret it. The book itself is a finely written tale that has in store many twists and turns that will leave you in suspense. I have to say the ending is not what I was expecting, but the excellent story makes up for that. I would definitely urge anyone to read this.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2009
If you desire an entertaining, fast moving adventure story with which to while away a few hours then this book is for you.
The tale recounts the exciting scientific expedition of a disparate group of Englishmen (two very argumentative and opinionated scientists, a big-game hunter and a newspaper journalist) to an inaccessible Amazonion plateau which is home to a selection of prehistoric dinosaurs and apemen. Danger, excitement, thrills and spills abound in Maple White Land.
The action is complemented by Arthur Conan Doyle's sharply drawn characters and his vivid descriptions of the remote land they are exploring. A classic adventure story to be enjoyed by young and old alike, this new edition with it's retro style cover is highly recommended.
on 7 May 2012
Love the cover design on these books, but as for the story, I loved it. Very telling of the time it was written, fast-paced and quite amusing. A great read.