This is as good or better (at least character-wise) as any Holmes. Of course, the racism grates on one and is no longer acceptable. But readers have to make allowances for the time when the book was written. Calling the love of one's life "Gladys" and the man she married "Mr. Potts" is laughable. Since a certain young woman refused to marry Doyle, was this his way of getting his own back?
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.
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.
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.
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!