Sunday, January 2, 2011
MPL Book Trailer #89: The Lost World, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best known today for his Sherlock Holmes stories, but he was a prolific author whose writings explored various genres, including mystery, adventure, science fiction, horror, the paranormal, and social commentary. (He wrote nonfiction, too, but that is a subject for a future blog.) One of his lesser known continuing characters was Professor Challenger, who for Doyle was the adventure/science fiction equivalent of Holmes. The Lost World, first published in 1912, was a popular Challenger novel, which our book trailer below highlights.
The Lost World offers everything: uncharted territories, prehistoric monsters, dangerous wilderness, ominous natives, and a menagerie of English scientists, explorers, journalists, and society thrill-seekers. The interactions between the primary characters are almost as interesting as the dramatic settings in which they struggle together to discover hidden truths to report to the world. (Doyle might be allegorical here, I just realized, having read much of his nonfiction work, but that, too, should wait for a future blog.) Doyle excelled in the adventure genre, and like his outstanding Holmes tales that set the stage for subsequent detective and mystery stories, The Lost World established the tone used by many later adventure authors and, especially, movie makers. It was no accident that the late Michael Crichton entitled his sequel to Jurassic Park after Doyle's novel (Crichton later wrote an introduction to a reissue of Doyle's Lost World).
Doyle wrote in that late 19th/early 20th century English style familiar to readers of H. G. Wells, and modern American audiences may need to read a few chapters to acclimate to the cadences. But the prose moves along briskly, and the novel reminds us that our imaginations, when fueled by a talented writer, offer excellent entertainment value.
William R. Buckley
MPL Reference Coordinator & Indiana Room Historian