The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Seeking to win the hand of fickle Gladys Hun-gerton, Edward Malone, a twenty-three-year-old newspaper reporter in London, interviews notorious professor of zoology George Edward Challenger. Challenger has startled the scientific world by asserting publicly that prehistoric creatures of the Jurassic period still exist.

Challenger and Malone travel to the wilds of Brazil with Professor Summerlee, a quarrelsome and skeptical comparative anatomist; Lord John Roxton, an accomplished hunter of big game; two “halfbreeds”; several South American Indians; and a faithful assistant named Zambo. Challenger and Malone overcome a series of vicissitudes to reach a mysterious volcanic plateau that had been upthrust from the jungle floor and now preserves unique flora and fauna. When a pterodactyl swoops down to grab some meat cooking on the group’s campfire, Summerlee realizes that Challenger was right.

Eventually, Challenger, Summerlee, Roxton, and Malone reach the top of the sheer-sided mesa, only to be stranded and seemingly trapped when their makeshift bridge is destroyed by one of the treacherous halfbreeds, who is promptly shot. While on the summit plateau, Challenger and the others discover docile iguanodons, rapacious pterodactyls, dangerous bipedal carnivores, and a number of other Mesozoic creatures. Eventually, they also discover primates of two kinds: ape-men who are apparently the “missing link” called for by evolutionists, and their successors, early human beings. The two hominid groups appear to be constantly at war. Intervention by Challenger and his well-armed group ensures the extermination of the ape-men. A grateful human prince directs Challenger to a cave escape route that takes him and his party down from the mesa.

The expedition eventually returns to London, where Challenger confounds his remaining critics by displaying a carefully preserved pterodactyl. Malone, now a hero, returns confidently to Gladys only to find that she has married a wimpish legal clerk. Malone and the adventurous Roxton determine to revisit their secret prehistoric world in South America.

The Lost World Setting

The two principal locales for the novel's action are England and South America. In England the action takes place amid the closed-minded and...

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The Lost World Literary Techniques

The Lost World begins with a love interest: Malone must go on a quest in order to win favor with Gladys. This quickly transforms into...

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The Lost World Literary Qualities

The Lost World begins with a love interest: Malone must go on a quest in order to win favor with Gladys. Malone is the novel's...

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The Lost World Social Concerns

In The Lost World, science is boldly advancing civilization and extending knowledge. Professor George Edward Challenger — daring,...

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The Lost World Ideas for Group Discussions

Dinosaurs living in the present is a hot subject; people young and old seem captivated by ancient beasts who sometimes grew to enormous sizes...

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The Lost World Topics for Discussion

1. What are the benefits of having Malone tell the story? Is the story limited in any way by his being the storyteller?

2. What...

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The Lost World Ideas for Reports and Papers

1. Identify the prehistoric animals that populate The Lost World. When did each live? In what kind of environment did each live?

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The Lost World Literary Precedents

In 1912, the acknowledged master of the exotic adventure tale was H, Rider Haggard, whose novels are still widely read today. His King...

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The Lost World Related Titles / Adaptations

The Lost World is notable for its good storytelling, evocative imagery, and sense of discovery. Its sequels are not up to its...

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The Lost World Related Titles

The Lost World is notable for its good storytelling, evocative imagery, and sense of discovery. Its sequels are not up to its...

(The entire section is 292 words.)

The Lost World For Further Reference

Beacham, Walton, ed. Research Guide to Biography and Criticism. Washington, DC: Beacham Publishing, 1985. The entry on Conan Doyle...

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