Review: “The Lost World” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

For the love of books

It begins with a journalist’s desire to please the woman he loves with an act of heroism.  But nothing could have prepared Edward Malone for a journey to a mysterious land with the most diverse companions.  Propagated by the hot-tempered Professor Challenger, the existence of a “lost world” in the depths of the Amazonian jungle has been ridiculed by the entire scientific world.  Nevertheless, Malone is sent on an errand by his editor to expose Challenger as a fraud.  Instead, he is convinced in one day to join a committee which will determine the veracity of Challenger’s claims by means of an expedition.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle demonstrates his masterful command of the English language and scientific knowledge in The Lost World.  A vivid analysis of prehistoric creatures and vegetation is not this novel’s only attribute; Doyle’s descriptions of the landscapes in South America by the Amazon are very realistic.  It is hard to believe that the author has not been on this adventure himself.  Doyle also ventures to include the constant debate regarding evolution and the origins of man.  Although ape-men (the “missing link”) and ruthless carnivores are the animalistic antagonists, the main enemy within the storyline is modern society’s incredulity.  However, the serious content is periodically lightened by Doyle’s wit and intelligent commentary transmitted through his unique characters.

Set in the author’s own contemporary world, this work of science fiction is comparable to Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days.  All main characters from these novels decide to confute the world’s doubt and prove the truth of their assertions themselves.  Doyle effectively contrasts two different angles of science: the ordinary man’s understanding versus the scientist’s.  The Lost World may involve dinosaurs and cavemen, but it still maintains its status as an intellectual, scientific novel written by a connoisseur.

Original review: Dinosaurs and cavemen in the twentieth century, Examiner.com

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