Christopher Roth's Reviews > The Lost World & Other Stories

The Lost World & Other Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle
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Nov 10, 11

Read from July 31 to September 20, 2011

I'm not remotely interested in Sherlock Holmes per se, but I love Victorian science fiction, so I found these stories, especially the character of Professor Challenger, very fun to read. But the last Challenger story, the novel “The Land of Mist,” is execrable. It has the same defect as many a novel which turns out to be just an ideological tract (such as “The Jungle,” “Looking Backward,” etc.), lacking all character development and, in this case, for all of the sort of fair points it makes, making Doyle look like a dupe for believing in spiritualism. Other writers from that era made a much better case using straight nonfiction. The idea that Challenger would have a change of heart and become a spiritualist after attending séances featuring gauzy ghost girls in pinafores levitating forward out of cabinets is ludicrous and actually retroactively undermines the credibility of the character (a sort of Bertrand-Russell-ish logician of a scientist) in the other stories like “The Lost World” in retrospect. I already have an historical interest in Victorian spiritualism, so I found it well worth reading, but if that is not the case with a reader and he or she is looking for an engaging narrative, look elsewhere.

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