Betty Cross's Reviews > The Lost World

The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle
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May 11, 2012

it was amazing

Doyle didn't just write about Sherlocke Holmes. Oh, no! His other protagonist is Professor Challenger -- a headstrong, overbearing, bullying academic, fully convinced of his own genius. He really is a genius, though. Fortunately, Doyle doesn't try to make us sympathize with Challenger. Instead, he lets an Irish-born English newspaper reporter named Edward Malone tell the story.

Doyle has become convinced that an eccentric American artist wandering through the Amazon rain forest has uncovered evidence that Mesozoic era giant animals -- known to us as "dinosaurs" -- still exist somewhere in the Amazon's unexplored depths. The only evidence is in the artist's sketch book, which was retrieved after his death of tropical diseases in Brazil. Are these pictures the products of the artist's fever-impared imagination, or records of dinosaurian survival? Challenger is convinced they're real. A riot breaks out when he tries to defend this contention at a meeting of a learned society in London.

An expedition is mounted to confirm or refute Challenger's contentions. It includes Challenger, another scientist who suspects Challenger is insane, and the reporter Malone, among others. They find a high plateau and climb up to it, only to find -- sure enough! -- real dinosaurs.

The species described represent accurately the state of paleontological knowledge of Doyle's time. Iguanadons walk on their hind legs, for instance. We now know this is wrong. There are pterodactyls and allosaurs. There is also a tribe of hypothetical ape-men. The plateau also contains a tribe of Indians who have adapted themselves to these dangerous conditions.

Doyle's descriptions are vivid and the pacing of the story is excellent. My interest didn't lag for a minute. It's a good thing too, since I was recovering from surgery when I read it and needed something to get my mind off of my pain. Making allowances for the refuted dinosaur theories of 1900, I give the book five stars.
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