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Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

See also:  http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart

My name:  Brian Martin

The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Lost World -  Arthur Conan Doyle

The things we do for love. The Lost World begins with our hero, Edward Malone, wanting desperately to propose to his ladylove, Gladys, and being thwarted because, as a mere reporter, he isn't adventurous enough for her. Not that she wants adventures herself; she simply wants to bask in reflected glory. It's his determination to prove himself worthy of Gladys that shortly finds him tumbling down a staircase, grappling with the world famous scientist George Edward Challenger.

Challenger, a bull of a man, as brilliant as he is supercilious, is also in love -- with himself, to be sure, but more importantly with science. His recent discovery of an American's sketchbook -- a sketchbook that suggests the existence of prehistoric life on a plateau deep in the jungle -- has left him no alternative: he must find that plateau and expose its wonders to the world. Conveniently putting his detractors to shame in the process, naturally.

His most vocal and distiguished opponent is Professor Summerlee, who would love nothing more than to show up Challenger as a fraud. Thus, though an older man past his physical prime, he signs on to journey across an ocean and into the deepest heart of the forbidding jungle.

As an aide of sorts for Summerlee, Lord John Roxton rounds out the expedition, and he is a natural choice. His muse and his love is adventure itself. Already a world-famous sportsman and traveller, he is also familiar with South America, where he earlier waged his own private war with slave-runners, and the Amazon in particular.

But love is a funny thing, and not everyone finds it in quite the way they expected.

The Lost World is a delight -- exciting, witty and humorous, and, best of all, gloriously romantic, a tale from a time when its fantastic premise still seemed almost plausible. The irony, of course, is that it carries with it the particular bane of this sort of romance: science and the belief of man's inherent superiority over nature. Reading the story, the title takes on an unintended double meaning, as, once the explorers reach the plateau, all that really matters is how it can be exploited for man's benefit. So add a certain melancholy to the book's charms.

That, and a couple of horrific scenes involving a tribe of ape-men who deal with their enemies in a particularly nasty fashion. I like a fantasy with teeth.