Sunday, February 14, 2010

17. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

#17

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Title: The Lost World
Series: Professor Challenger series
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Copyright: 1912 (1998)
Pages: 172
ISBN: 9780486400600
Publisher: Dover Thrift Editions
Author Website: www.sherlockholmesonline.org
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 2-14-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (SciFi Category)

From Amazon:
An exciting account of a jungle expedition’s encounter with living dinosaurs, written with the same panache exhibited in the author’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries. This 1912 novel, the first installment of the Professor Challenger series, follows an eccentric paleontologist and his companions into the wilds of the Amazon, where they discover iguanodons, pterodactyls, and savage ape-people

I'll be honest, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World took me forever to read, and it's not that long of a book. Part of the problem is the edition that I bought, a Dover Thrift Edition, because they use small, compact type to get as much text on a page as possible to cut down on the book size, thereby keeping the price lower. The other problem is that Conan Doyle's story is wordy. Very wordy. But, it is also part of the charm of the story. He's taken his four main characters and made them into such caricatures of themselves that they seem almost comical: Professor Challenger, the gruff, overly-charismatic leader of the expedition; Professor Summerlee, the skeptical intellectual who needs physical proof of Challenger's outrageous claims of living, prehistoric life; Lord John Roxton, the sportsman who is looking for his next big adventure; and the narrator, reporter Edward Malone, who is trying to win the hand of the woman he loves by becoming the man of adventure her overly-romantic self seems to be looking for. Filled with adventure and peril at every turn, the story did take some time to get moving, but once the adventurers found themselves in the lost world, the story really takes off and is a non-stop thrill ride.

The whole idea of the book is that Professor Challenger says that he has been to a "lost world" in South America where dinosaurs still live. Naturally, he is laughed out of the scientific community, but eventually he finds a group of explorers who are willing to go with him, either to prove him wrong and a fraud or to partake in the adventure of a lifetime. Once they finally reach the plateau where the lost world is, they find themselves in the midst of both dinosaurs and mammals that have been lost thought extinct, as well as in the middle of a civil war between a tribe of Indian "natives" and a nation of ape-men.

I've read a lot of reviews that go on about how wordy the story is and how it doesn't really seem to hold up so much for our time. Well, it was written almost 100 years ago, and I think if you take it in the context for when it was written, it stands up very well and is actually quite an enjoyable book to read. Yes, some of it seems rather outdated, but at the time was probably quite the thrilling idea of a book. Taken for what it is, I really enjoyed the book and will probably look for more of the Professor Challenger books.

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