The Lost World By Arthur Conan Doyle – Book Review

The Lost World By Arthur Conan Doyle – Book Review

The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Lost World

Author – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Publisher – Alma Classics
Pages – 320
Released – 27th July 2017 (Re-issue)
ISBN-13 – 978-1847496508
Format – Paperback
Reviewer – Clive
Rating – 5 Stars
I received a free copy of this book
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When the reporter Edward Malone is sent to interview the formidable Professor Challenger about his accounts of strange prehistoric beasts on a remote plateau in South America, he expects to be given short shrift by the researcher, notorious for man handling nosy enquirers.

But Challenger, impressed by the young journalist’s thirst for adventure, invites Malone along on his next expedition, plunging him into a mysterious and dangerous world populated by dinosaurs and murderous ape men.

Having already written seminal works of detective fiction, Arthur Conan Doyle became a pioneer of early science fiction with The Lost World. This classic novel helped establish the genre and has inspired, since its first publication in 1912, countless stories, novels and films.

New one review witch 2017

After his initial success Conan Doyle spent much of his literary career trying to break free from Sherlock Holmes but public pressure and the need for a good income kept the two inexorably bound. His historical novels found little success but he achieved more with his science fiction adventures of which The Lost World was by far the most successful. And rightly so. This tale of a hidden world is full of action with many mysteries to ponder. Just imagine the excitement of the readers of Strand Magazine as they waited for the next episode of the story to be published; just what creatures or predicaments would our heroes meet next?

As far as I know Conan Doyle never travelled up the Amazon. He obtained his knowledge from other people’s accounts but his descriptions of the jungle are excellent and help to build the tension before they even reach the site of the lost world.

Despite the age of the book and the language of the time I found it easy to read. Having the story written in the first person helped to maintain the tension and fear.

The principle characters are those one would expect from an action story of that time, the relatively innocent narrator, the two irascible professors and everybody’s favourite, the all-action Lord John Roxton; sportsman, world explorer, British gentleman and all round good egg. The sort of character that we have seen parodied countless times.

I was expecting action and mysterious creatures but my surprise was Conan Doyle’s humour. In particular I found myself laughing out loud at the chapter describing the lecture at the start of the book. To use the vernacular of the time the inaudible chairman was an absolute “hoot”.

For several reasons The Lost World could not be written today. With the benefit of current knowledge it is hard to believe that such a mix of fauna could exist together in such a relatively small space. Also, any modern book would have a balanced mix of gender and race whereas here we have four upper class English male explorers, some Native South American bearers, a loyal “negro” servant and just two very stereotypical female characters with very minor roles.

As is usual for Alma Classics there are a few pages of useful notes to explain some of the references to contemporary persons and literature. The cover has an outline drawing of what must be Lord John in jodhpurs and pith helmet, looking up at pterodactyls flying above.

The book has a lively ending and promised more adventures for the leading characters which Conan Doyle fulfilled with several short stories and another book. The Lost World brightened up a couple of dull post-Christmas days and for sheer “ripping yarn” entertainment I have awarded five stars.

Reviewed by Clive

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About the Author

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, was a British writer best known for his detective fiction featuring the character Sherlock Holmes. Originally a physician, in 1887 he published A Study in Scarlet, the first of four novels about Holmes and Dr. Watson. In addition, Doyle wrote over fifty short stories featuring the famous detective. The Sherlock Holmes stories are generally considered milestones in the field of crime fiction.

Doyle was a prolific writer; his non-Sherlockian works include fantasy and science fiction stories about Professor Challenger and humorous stories about the Napoleonic soldier Brigadier Gerard, as well as plays, romances, poetry, non-fiction and historical novels.

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