The Lost World (Conan Doyle novel)
Cover of the first edition of The Lost World.
|Author||Sir Arthur Conan Doyle|
|Publisher||Hodder & Stoughton|
|Followed by||The Poison Belt|
The Lost World is a novel released in 1912 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle concerning an expedition to a plateau in the Amazon basin of South America where prehistoric animals (dinosaurs and other extinct creatures) still survive. It was originally published serially in the popular Strand Magazine and illustrated by New-Zealand-born artist Harry Rountree during the months of April–November 1912. The character of Professor Challenger was introduced in this book. The novel also describes a war between indigenous people and a vicious tribe of ape-like creatures.
- 1 Plot summary
- 2 Characters
- 3 Animals featured
- 4 References in other works
- 5 References to actual history, geography and current science
- 6 Film, television and radio adaptations
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Edward Malone, a reporter for the Daily Gazette, goes to his news editor, McArdle, to procure a dangerous and adventurous mission to impress the woman he loves, Gladys Hungerton. He is sent to interview Professor George Edward Challenger, who has assaulted four or five other journalists, to determine if his claims about his trip to South America are true. After assaulting Malone, who earns Challenger's respect when Malone refuses to press charges, Challenger reveals his discovery of dinosaurs in South America. Having been ridiculed for years, he invites Malone on a trip to prove his story, along with Professor Summerlee and Lord John Roxton, an adventurer who knows the Amazon and several years prior to the events of the book helped end slavery by robber barons in South America. They reach the plateau with the aid of Indian guides, who are superstitiously scared of the area. One of these Indians, Gomez, is the brother of a man that Roxton killed the last time he was in South America. When the expedition manages to get onto the plateau, Gomez destroys their bridge, trapping them. Their "devoted negro" Zambo remains at the base, but is unable to prevent the rest of the Indians from leaving.
Deciding to investigate the lost world, they are attacked by pterodactyls in a swamp, and Roxton finds some blue clay in which he takes a great interest. After exploring the plateau and having some adventures in which the expedition narrowly escapes being killed by dinosaurs, Challenger, Summerlee, and Roxton are captured by a race of ape-men. While in the ape-men's village, they find out that there is also a tribe of humans (calling themselves Accala) inhabiting the other side of the plateau, with whom the ape-men (called Doda by the Accala) are at war. Roxton manages to escape and team up with Malone to mount a rescue. They arrive just in time to prevent the execution of one of the professors and several other humans, including a young man who turns out to be a prince of sorts among the Accala. The rescued Accala then take the party to their tribe. With the help of the expediton's firepower, the Accala defeat the ape-men, taking control of the whole plateau.
After witnessing the power of their guns, the human tribe does not want the expedition to leave, and tries to keep them on the plateau. Challenger first plans to fashion a series of balloons to carry the party off the plateau. However, with the help from the young prince of the Accala whom they had saved, the expedition finally discovers a tunnel that leads to the outside, where they meet up with Zambo and a large rescue party. Upon returning to England, they present their report, which include pictures and a newspaper report by Edward. However, many detractors continue to dismiss the expedition's account, much as they had Challenger's original story. Having anticipated this, Challenger shows them a live pterodactyl as proof, which then escapes and flies out into the Atlantic Ocean. When the four of them have dinner, Roxton shows them why he was so interested in the blue clay. It contains diamonds, about £200,000 worth, to be split between them. Challenger plans to open a private museum, Summerlee plans to retire and categorise fossils, and Roxton plans to go back to the lost world. Malone returns to his love, Gladys, only to find that she had married a clerk while he was away. With nothing keeping him in London, he volunteers to be part of Roxton's second trip.
- Professor Challenger, zoologist
- Edward D. Malone, reporter
- McArdle, Edward's editor
- Professor Summerlee, scientist
- Lord John Roxton, adventurer
- Gomez, brother to a slave master Roxton killed
- Manuel, Gomez's friend
- Zambo, South American black guide
- Gladys Hungerton, Edward Malone's love interest
Other extinct reptiles
Other prehistoric animals included
Other creatures on the Plateau
- Ixodes maloni, a species of blood-sucking tick; named after Malone, the first to be bitten by one
- Moths; some large specimens were seen flying around the expedition's campfire.
- A 50-foot-long black snake was seen by the expedition.
Creatures outside the Plateau
References in other works
The idea of prehistoric animals surviving into the present day was not new, but had already been introduced by Jules Verne in Journey to the Center of the Earth. In that book, published in 1864, the creatures live under the earth in and around a subterranean sea. In 1915, the Russian scientist Vladimir Obruchev produced his own version of the "lost world" theme in the novel Plutonia, which places the dinosaurs and other Jurassic species in a fictional space inside the hollow Earth connected to the surface via an opening in the Russian Far North.
In 1916, Edgar Rice Burroughs published The Land That Time Forgot, his version of The Lost World where lost submariners from a German U-Boat discovered their own lost world of dinosaurs and ape-men in Antarctica. Two other books in the series followed.
A 1994 release for the Forgotten Futures role-playing game was based on and includes the full text of the Professor Challenger novels and stories.
Conan Doyle's title was reused by Michael Crichton in his 1995 novel The Lost World, a sequel to Jurassic Park. (Its film adaptation, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, followed suit.) Both the book and its movie adaptation share a somewhat similar setting with the Conan Doyle story, involving a journey to an isolated area filled with living dinosaurs. At least two similarly named TV shows, Land of the Lost and Lost, nod to this source material, although the latter draws more from Doyle's short story "The Lost Special". At least two of the characters in Michael Crichton's novel The Lost World mention a palaeontologist called John Roxton. However, Crichton's Roxton, who is never seen, is something of an idiot, wrongly identifying one dinosaur and publishing a report stating that the braincase of Tyrannosaurus rex is the same as that of a frog and thus possesses a visual system attuned strictly to movement.
One of the Neopets plots, "Journey to The Lost Isle" is based on this book, with Roxton A. Colchester III, Hugo & Lillian Fairweather, and Werther as the adventurers, with Captain Rourke and Scrap as the guides.
The book was adapted in Czech comics by Vlastislav Toman/Jiří Veškrna (1970, 24 pages), followed by a sequel The Second Expedition (Vlastislav Toman/František Koblík, 26 pages) (reprinted together in Velká kniha Komiksů, ISBN 80-7257-658-5).
The 2002 animated adventure Dinosaur Island is an attempt to blend the original story with the popular reality series format, and was written by John Loy, writer of similar productions such as The Land Before Time.
Rafael Chandler's 2016 supplement "The World of the Lost" for the OSR Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-Playing game system references the Doyle book not only in its title, but also in the its contents and setting themes, including prehistoric creatures on a plateau and a savage war forming the setting's background.
References to actual history, geography and current science
The characters of Ed Malone and Lord John Roxton were modelled, respectively, on the journalist E. D. Morel and the diplomat Roger Casement, leaders of the Congo Free State reform campaign (the Congo Reform Association), which Conan Doyle supported.
The setting for The Lost World is believed to have been inspired by reports of Doyle's good friend Percy Harrison Fawcett's expedition to Huanchaca Plateau in Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, Bolivia. Fawcett organised several expeditions to delimit the border between Bolivia and Brazil – an area of potential conflict between both countries. Doyle took part in the lecture of Fawcett in Royal Geographical Society on 13 February 1911 and was impressed by the tale about the remote "province of Caupolican" (present day Huanchaca Plateau) in Bolivia – a dangerous area with impenetrable forests, where Fawcett saw "monstrous tracks of unknown origin".
Fawcett wrote in his posthumously published memoirs: "monsters from the dawn of man's existence might still roam these heights unchallenged, imprisoned and protected by unscalable cliffs. So thought Conan Doyle when later in London I spoke of these hills and showed photographs of them. He mentioned an idea for a novel on Central South America and asked for information, which I told him I should be glad to supply. The fruit of it was his Lost world in 1912, appearing as a serial in the Strand Magazine [sic], and subsequently in the form of a book that achieved widespread popularity." Additionally, a 1996 Science Fiction Studies review of an annotated edition of the novel suggested that another inspiration for the story may have been the 1890s contested political history of the Pacaraima Mountains plateaus, and Mount Roraima in particular.
The dinosaur that attacks the camp is described as being as large as a horse, whereas in life Allosaurus was much bigger. However the book also allowed the possibility that the dinosaur that attacks the camp was a Megalosaurus or a juvenile Allosaurus, which would be a much closer size comparison. Both Summerlee and Challenger are undecided if the attacking beast was a Megalosaurus or Allosaurus but they imply it is a megalosaur as "any one of the larger carnivorous dinosaurs would meet the case." Inaccurate size measurements are also given to the Iguanodon and Phorusrhacos.
The novel also details a brief encounter with a giant snake, estimated by Challenger to have been over 50 feet long. Though not based on any known snake at the time, its inclusion likely came from reports by Fawcett. In 1907, Fawcett claimed to have witnessed and killed a giant anaconda of a similar size, though his report was unverified. However, the recent discovery of Titanoboa, which could easily fit the description given in the novel, indicates snakes of gargantuan size did indeed exist in prehistoric eras.
Following the stereotypes of the time in which the book was written, the dinosaurs are described often as extremely stupid; For example, at some point an Iguanodon pulls down the tree in which it is feeding, being injured and frightened in the process. This idea is generally omitted in the modern film versions.
Film, television and radio adaptations
- The Lost World (1925; film)
- The Lost World (1944; radio)
- John Dickson Carr as Narrator (all characters)
- The Lost World (1949; BBC Light Programme radio serial)
- With Abraham Sofaer, Ivor Barnard, Lewis Stringer, Cyril Gardiner
- The Lost World (1960; film)
- Claude Rains as Professor Challenger
- Michael Rennie as Lord John Roxton
- David Hedison as Edward Malone
- Jill St. John as Jennifer Holmes (additional character)
- Richard Haydn as Professor Summerlee
- Fernando Lamas as Manuel Gomez
- Ray Stricklyn as David Holmes (additional character)
- Jay Novello as Costa (additional character)
- Dinosaurs! (1966, an audio dramatic version of The Lost World adapted and directed by Ronald Liss and recorded by permission of the Estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; MGM/Leo the Lion Records C/CH-1016)
(The character of Lord John Roxton was not included in this adaptation)
- The Lost World (1975 BBC Radio 4 Classic Serial)
- The Lost World (1992; film)
- Return to the Lost World (1992; sequel film)
- The Lost World (1997; radio)
- Linus Roache as Narrator
- Johnny Briggs as Professor Challenger/Gomez (voice)
- Clive Hornby as Lord John Roxton
- Kevin McKidd as Edward Malone
- Kenneth Branagh as Professor Summerlee
- Kelly Macdonald as Susan Windsor (additional character)
- Ian McKellen as Professor O'Parker (additional character)
- Lucy Brown as Gladys Hungerford
- Rudolph Walker as Zambo
- The Lost World (1998; film)
- Patrick Bergin as Professor Challenger
- David Nerman as Lord John Roxton
- Julian Casey as Arthur Malone (originally Edward Malone)
- Jayne Heitmeyer as Amanda White (additional character)
- Michael Sinelnikoff as Professor Leo Summerlee (originally simply Professor Summerlee)
- Gregoriane Minot Payeur as Djena (additional character)
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (1999–2002; TV series)
- Peter McCauley as Professor Challenger
- William Snow as Lord John Richard Roxton (originally simply Lord John Roxton)
- David Orth as Edward 'Ned' Malone (originally Edward Malone)
- Rachel Blakely as Marguerite Krux (additional character)
- Jennifer O'Dell as Veronica Layton (additional character)
- Michael Sinelnikoff as Professor Arthur Summerlee (originally simply Professor Summerlee)
- The Lost World (2001; television film)
- Bob Hoskins as Professor Challenger
- Tom Ward as Lord John Phillip Roxton (originally simply Lord John Roxton)
- Matthew Rhys as Edward Malone
- Elaine Cassidy as Agnes Cluny (additional character)
- James Fox as Professor Leo Summerlee (originally simply Professor Summerlee)
- Peter Falk as Reverend Theo Kerr (additional character)
- King of the Lost World (2005)
- The Lost World (2011; BBC Radio 4 Classic Serial)
- Daniel Stashower. Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle. Henry Holt & Co., New York, 1999, pgs. 321-22
- "B. Fletcher Robinson & 'The Lost World'". Paul Spiring. Archived from the original on 25 June 2009.
- Harold T. Wilkins. Secret Cities of Old South America. Cosimo Inc., New York, 2008, p. 199
- P. H. Fawcett, Brian Fawcett. Exploration Fawcett. 1953, p. 122
- Bleiler, Everett (November 1996). "Lost Worlds and Lost Opportunities: the Pilot-Rodin Edition of The Lost World". Science Fiction Studies. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
- Radio Plays 1945–1997: Serials by Roger Bickerton and Nigel Deacon
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