The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

I remember watching a documentary on Discovery where a team of scientists try to validate the facts and legends mentioned in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World’ .The documentary also contained an enactment of parts of the novel. It was like anything I had ever seen before. I couldn’t take my eyes off the Telly for the entire documentary. Please do take a look at the photo gallery.

This documentary really made me want to read the book.

First line:

Mr. Hungerton, her father, really was the most tactless person upon earth,—a fluffy, feathery, untidy cockatoo of a man, perfectly good-natured, but absolutely centered upon his own silly self. If anything could have driven me from Gladys, it would have been the thought of such a father-in-law. I am convinced that he really believed in his heart that I came round to the Chestnuts three days a week for the pleasure of his company, and very especially to hear his views upon bimetallism, a subject upon which he was by way of being an authority.

The Lost World is narrated by Edward Malone, a reporter from Daily Gazette. When he expresses his love to Gladys, she refuses to accept him because she wants a man who is a hero, who has made a name for himself.

“There are heroisms all round us waiting to be done. It’s for men to do them, and for women to reserve their love as a reward for such men… That’s what I should like – to be envied for my man.”

The first edition cover

The first edition cover

When he gets a chance to go on an expedition with the arrogant and difficult scientist, Professor Challenger, he jumps at it thinking it would be a great way to impress Gladys and win her heart. Challenger has been on this expedition before and he has claimed that he has seen life that is already extinct. But no one believes him. The entire scientific community as well as the press is skeptical. So a committee is formed which would take the same expedition and validate Professor Challenger’s claims.

The expedition consists of Mr. Malone, Challenger, Professor Summerlee and John Roxton. The plateau is located in an isolated place somewhere in the Amazon jungle. After traveling for days through the inaccessible valleys and forest, they reach the plateau. What they find there is The Lost World. They see animals like the dinosaurs that are extinct centuries before, they find an entire colony of ape-men and a small Indian tribe on the plateau too. It’s basically an entirely different world; a world which no one knows exists. I’ll spare you the details in case you haven’t read the book.

The first half of the book is pretty slow. But after they reach the plateau the story gets really exciting and adventurous. The narration is really funny at places especially when describing Challenger or the fights between Challenger and Summerlee. Here’s an example:

If Lord John’s behavior at this time was strange, that of Challenger was more so. I may say that he seemed to possess an extraordinary fascination for the Indian women, and that he always carried a large spreading palm branch with which he beat them off as if they were flies, when their attentions became too pressing. To see him walking like a comic opera Sultan, with this badge of authority in his hand, his black beard bristling in front of him, his toes pointing at each step, and a train of wide-eyed Indian girls behind him, clad in their slender drapery of bark cloth, is one of the most grotesque of all the pictures which I will carry back with me.

It’s probably not the best example but it will certainly give you an idea. I felt the end was a little rushed but overall this was a satisfying book.

The plateau mentioned in the book is said to be located in South America where Brazil, Venezuela, and Guyana meet. The first explorers climbed the plateau in 1884 with the help of the Royal Geographical Society of London. Their story was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. (I read this on some site, I don’t know if it’s the truth). But the plateau very much exists. Here is it, Mt Roraima. Isn’t it grand?

Other Information:
This book is one of the books from the Challenger series written by him The other books in the series are: The Poison Belt, The Land of Mist, When the World Screamed and The Disintegration Machine.

There is also a manga version of The Lost World published by Osamu Tezuka in 1948.

This book is for the Casual Classics Challenge and the Baker Street Challenge.

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Review: Jane Eyre

I wanted to read Jane Eyre since a long time but couldn’t make myself do it. Firstly, because I find classics really difficult to read. Secondly, it’s too long. The 490 pages copy I have has very small font and everything is kind of crowded with the next chapter starting on the same page the previous one ends.
So when I picked up the book to read I was expecting a very difficult read. But the first 100 pages were a breeze.
*contains spoilers*
Jane Eyre is an orphan who is living with her aunt, who is not a very compassionate woman, nor are her cousins. She suffers a lot in that house. Jane is a spirited girl, she believes she should be treated fairly and even knows there is injustice in the way her Aunt and her cousins treat her. She also believes in speaking her mind.
The Aunt gets tired of her and sends her to an orphanage school at the age of 10 where she spends the next 8 years of her life.’ I loved the life she described in the school. This section I found very similar to Anne of green gables. Not that there was anything similar in their circumstances but I found their natures quite similar.

“A great deal: you are good to those who are good to you. It is all I ever desire to be. If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse. When we are struck at without a reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should—so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.”

Jane works for 2 years as a teacher in the same school before she gets bored with the monotony and decides to explore something else. She applies for the post of a governess and gets a letter from Mrs. Fairfax. When Jane reaches there she finds out that Adele, her pupil is Mr. Rochester’s ward and Mrs. Fairfax is the housekeeper.
Mr. Rochester is the hero of course. As romance builds up, Rochester proposes to her and on the day of their marriage she finds out that he is already married, albeit to a lunatic. She leaves the house the same night without informing anyone and loses touch with him. She builds a life for herself as a village school teacher and in the end returns to find Rochester blind and his wife dead.
What I really liked about the book was that the author seemed to talk to the readers directly. She addresses the readers pulling them into the story very quickly.
I found the book a little too descriptive and the language, although very beautiful, very tedious a times.
At the very end, when Jane learns of Rochester’s ill fate from the manager of the Inn, she decides to go and meet him. I was so excited at this point, I could hardly stay still. I wanted to find out what happened instantly. But again, there were so many descriptions of the path and of the house, I was really irritated.

I proceeded: at last my way opened, the trees thinned a little; presently I beheld a railing, then the house—scarce, by this dim light, distinguishable from the trees; so dank and green were its decaying walls.  Entering a portal, fastened only by a latch, I stood amidst a space of enclosed ground, from which the wood swept away in a semicircle.  There were no flowers, no garden-beds; only a broad gravel-walk girdling a grass-plat, and this set in the heavy frame of the forest.  The house presented two pointed gables in its front; the windows were latticed and narrow: the front door was narrow too, one step led up to it. 

 I mean hello? At this point I wasn’t really interested in reading about whether there were flowers in the path or not. I was way too impatient and I admit I skipped a lot from that chapter.
And Rochester? I think he spoke too much. At one point I wanted to say, ‘Oh stop talking already’. I thought he was selfish and manipulative. I realized that I will love the book more when I read it for the second time. As I already know the story I won’t skip anything and I am sure I will appreciate the language even more.
Although I loved the book and although it’s supposed to be one of the greatest love stories, Pride and Prejudice is still on top of my list. And Darcy is still the yummiest of all the literary heroes.
For those who have read the book, is there anything about it you did not like?

This book is one down for the Classics Challenge and one down for the Chunkster Challenge. yay…