The Lost World (Conan Doyle novel)

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"Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World" redirects here. For the 1999 TV series, see The Lost World (TV series).
The Lost World
Lost world.jpg
Cover of the first edition of The Lost World.
Author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Professor Challenger
Genre

Fantasy novel

Lost world
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date
1912
Media type Print
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.

Plot summary[edit]

The group encountering Iguanodon

Edward Malone, a reporter for the Daily Gazette, asks his news editor, McArdle, for a dangerous and adventurous mission in order to impress the woman he loves, Gladys Hungerton. He is sent to interview the cantankerous Professor Challenger, who has become notorious for claims made about his recent expedition to South America. The professor has been plagued by intrusive reporters and, being a formidable man of great strength, has taken to forcibly ejecting them, despite the resulting police prosecutions. To gain entry Malone pretends to be an honest enquirer, but is quickly discovered, assaulted and thrown into the street. Although this is witnessed by a policeman, Malone does not press charges as the original deceit was his. Challenger is suitably impressed, and decides to reveal something of his discovery of living dinosaurs in South America. Malone is invited to a scientific gathering that evening at which he volunteers, along with the biologist Professor Summerlee and the Amazon adventurer Lord John Roxton, to travel to South America to investigate the claims. After a long and arduous journey they reach the plateau. But one of their local guides has a score to settle with Roxton and destroys their temporary bridge across a precipice, trapping the explorers on the dinosaurs' plateau, where he expects them to meet their deaths.

On the plateau, the explorers encounter five iguanodons and are later attacked by pterodactyls, and Roxton finds some blue clay in which he takes a great interest. After numerous encounters with dinosaurs, Challenger, Summerlee, and Roxton are captured by a race of 'ape-men'. While in the ape-men's village, they discover a tribe of anatomically-modern humans (calling themselves Accala) inhabiting the other side of the plateau, with whom the ape-men (called Doda by the Accala) are at war. With the help of the expedition's firepower, the Accala conquer the ape-men; and insist that the expedition remain on the plateau. With the help from the young prince of the Accala, whom they had saved from the ape-men, the expedition discover a tunnel to the outside world, where they join a large rescue party. Upon return to England, they present their report, which include pictures and a newspaper report by Malone; but they are disbelieved by the public, until Challenger shows a live pterodactyl as proof, which then escapes into the Atlantic Ocean. At dinner, Roxton reveals that the blue clay contains diamonds, about £200,000 worth, to be split between them. Challenger plans to open a private museum, Summerlee plans to retire and categorize fossils, and Roxton plans to return to the lost world. Malone returns to his love, Gladys, only to find that she had married a solicitor's clerk in his absence. He therefore volunteers to join Roxton's voyage.

Characters in The Lost World[edit]

  • 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

Animals featured[edit]

Dinosaurs[edit]

Encounter with Stegosaurus

Other extinct reptiles[edit]

Other prehistoric animals included[edit]

Mammals[edit]

Birds[edit]

Other creatures on the Plateau[edit]

  • 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 expeditions campfire.
  • A 50 ft long black snake was seen by the expedition.

Creatures outside the Plateau[edit]

References in other works[edit]

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.

Author Greg Bear set his 1998 novel Dinosaur Summer in Conan Doyle's Lost World.

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 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.

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[edit]

Map of Maple-White Land

The characters of Ed Malone and Lord John Roxton were modeled, 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.[1]

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 organized 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 Geographic Society on 13 February 1911[2] 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".[3]

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."[4] 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.[5]

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.

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[edit]

(The character of Lord John Roxton was not included in this adaptation)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Daniel Stashower. Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle. Henry Holt & Co., New York, 1999, pgs. 321-22
  2. ^ "B. Fletcher Robinson & 'The Lost World'". Paul Spiring. 
  3. ^ Harold T. Wilkins. Secret Cities of Old South America. Cosimo Inc., New York, 2008, p. 199
  4. ^ P. H. Fawcett, Brian Fawcett. Exploration Fawcett. 1953, p. 122
  5. ^ Bleiler, Everett (November 1996). "Lost Worlds and Lost Opportunities: the Pilot-Rodin Edition of The Lost World". Science Fiction Studies. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Radio Plays 1945-1997: Serials by Roger Bickerton and Nigel Deacon

External links[edit]