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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