The Lost World
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
B&R Samizdat Express
After reading The Lost City of Z by David Grann last year, I immediately downloaded The Lost World to my Nook. Grann references the book in his story about Percy Fawcett whom Conan Doyle credits with the idea for his story that became The Lost World. On a night when I needed something to read and was craving more non-fiction than fiction but couldn’t even feign hope in the book I picked, I browsed the Nook and found my copy of The Lost World. A short book, my version is a mere 174 pages, I thought it would be the perfect distraction.
I was right on one level — it was distracting but in a good way. Conan Doyle, is known better to me as the author of the Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories, surprised me in that the story he was telling felt familiar and foreign all at the same time. The Lost World is the story a newspaper reporter looking for his big story break and thanks to a tip from an editor, he finds himself wrapped up in the tale of Professor Challenger who believes he found a prehistoric world on a plateau in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. And if you’re wondering, yes it comes complete with caveman and a t-rex.
What makes the story work is the length. Conan Doyle’s stories were published in segments and you can easily get the feel of that here but it works without feeling punctuated. The four men that take on the expedition, Professor Challenger, Professor Summerlee, Lord John Roxton, and Edward Malone are interesting characters. Challenger and Summerlee both have agendas and are out to prove something — for Challenger it’s to prove the world he’s been ridiculed for discovering exists and Summerlee is out to prove Challenger is the fraud he believes him to be. While Malone is chasing the story of his life to appease the woman he loves with the hopes of a marriage, Roxton is the true explorer who wants to satiate a curiosity. The four men, and yes it’s a story all about men, come together to form an interesting tale that will keep you interested even if you know the end.
This year I’m trying to delve deeper into author backlists and while my Sherlock Holmes knowledge is still rather shallow, this was a fun little story and I’m glad I took the time to read it.