I am almost ashamed to admit that this is the first time that I have read anything by Conan Doyle, including, of course, his most famous creation, Sherlock Holmes! It seems almost puerile then to even consider writing a literary review on the work of a man so intrinsically linked to the world of literature. Instead I will simply limit myself to making a few observations on the text. The Lost World was originally serialised between April and November 1912 in the Strand Magazine. It details the expedition of a group of scientists and adventures going in search of a strange plateau in the Amazon basin, upon which prehistoric animals are said still to roam! The eclectic bunch of travellers includes the young reporter, Ed Malone who is trying to win over the heart of the fair lady, Gladys Hungerton by seeking out a dangerous assignment. The tempestuous Professor Challenger, seeking to prove his assertion that dinosaurs still roam the earth, along with Professor Summerlee, another scientist, tasked to examine any evidence in order to verify Challenger’s claims. With the addition of Lord John Roxton, an adventurer who has extensive knowledge of the Amazon, the team are soon fighting for survival in a strange land not only inhabited by prehistoric creatures, but also a land seemingly embroiled in a civil war between the native Indians and a race of ape-men.
As for the exact location of the fabled Lost World it is said to have been inspired by writings of Conan Doyle's good friend, Percy Harrison Fawcett. It was during Fawcett’s expedition to the Huanchaca Plateau in, Bolivia that he is said to have seen, "monstrous tracks of unknown origin". Posthumously published, Fawcett’s memoirs hold more startling revelations, “monsters from the dawn of man's existence might still roam these heights unchallenged, imprisoned and protected by unscalable cliffs.”
Although hundreds of subsequent stories exist foretelling of when dinosaur meets man, curiously, Conan Doyle’s was not the first. The idea of prehistoric beasts surviving to the present day had already been penned by Jules Verne in ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’. This story, published in 1864, had the creatures living under the earth in and around a subterranean sea.
This then is a great story, made even more so by when it was actually written. Dinosaur discoveries where still a relatively new phenomena in 1912 with much speculation still in existence as to the fossil record and the fall of the dinosaurs themselves. Perhaps by today’s standards the action seems tame, but this is a genuinely exciting tale that ultimately left me wanting more! A classic of its type, four crowns!