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This week we took a sharp detour from the world of feminist espionage and the traumatic degradation of women in Gilead to a much more childishly stimulating and exciting genre: the adventure novel. Off the shelf was plucked Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, which I have now devoured and rather enjoyed.
In the sci-fi adventure style of Verne and Poe, The Lost World chronicles an expedition into South America to find the existence of a pocket of nature where dinosaurs and other Jurassic wonders still exist. The group is made up of Professor Challenger out to save his reputation as a zoologist, cynical Professor Summerlee only there to be proven wrong in his accusations against Challanger, Lord John Roxton a famous hunter on the chase of his life, and E. D. Malone a love-spurned journalist out to prove he can be romantic and adventurous.
In the true style of classic adventure novels, the central cast of characters is made up of a group that really don’t work together, but somehow make a very entertaining adventuring party. Written as a chronicle or memoir from the point of view of Malone the journalist, the book begins as a sort of King Kong, Journey to the Centre of the Earth adventure, before quickly becoming something else entirely, as new and unpredicted adventures happen including the introduction of primitive human tribes living amongst the Jurassic monsters.
Doyle very cleverly and interestingly explores how humankind’s life would have been if they had evolved and developed alongside dinosaurs and other extinct creatures, a fresh and fascinating take on the journey-to-the-new-world narrative and setting is apart from other stories like it.
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The prose is descriptive where it needs to be, simple, and personal with little opinions and observations about Malone’s fellow travellers being snidely and humorously slid into the text. And of course, it’s always nice to read a work from an author well known for a certain style and see them thrive in a different genre.
The Lost World is a great example of fun afternoon literature that I quite enjoyed and would recommend to anyone who’s a fan of the adventure novel.
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1912
Published: Hodder & Stoughton, 1912