The Plot

“The Land That Time Forgot” and “The People That Time Forgot” originally were titled “The Lost U-Boat” and “Cor-sva-Jo.” The titles were changed by Ray Long of Blue Book, where they were first published as serial novellas in 1918. The books were reissued under their separate titles in 1982.

The three books trace the adventures of Bowen J. Tyler, Jr., Tom Billings, and Bradley in the land of Caspak, the interior of the uncharted island of Caprona, somewhere near the South Pole, during the summer of 1916. During these adventures, they discover and battle men and beasts representing several stages of evolutionary development. On Caspak, most individuals (both human and beast) evolve from eggs deposited in warm southern pools. These become tadpolelike creatures, some of which eventually take to land and begin an evolutionary journey requiring centuries to complete. The “humans” that survive move through stages of physical development, becoming less apelike and using more sophisticated weapons, progressing northward to more highly developed tribes when the evolutionary clock “calls” them “to rise.” A few women achieve full reproductive powers (rather than depositing eggs), making them highly prized and, in the cases of Ajor and Co-Tan, catalysts for the intrigues of the plot.

The Land That Time Forgot begins as an unnamed narrator uncovers a fantastic manuscript in a bottle, written by Tyler, who recounts his experiences on Caprona. On his way to the French ambulance service, Tyler’s ship is sunk by a German U-boat. After...

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The first novella, "The Land That Time Forgot," opens after the outbreak of World War I but before the United States has entered the...

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Literary Techniques

Some literary critics rank the first novella "The Land That Time Forgot" as Burroughs's best work. It has at its center an ingenious concept...

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Literary Qualities

Strong characterizations help elevate The Land That Time Forgot above the standard adventure yarn. Tyler, the protagonist of the first...

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Social Concerns

In his depiction of the Wieroo in "Out of Time's Abyss/' the third novella of The Land That Time Forgot, Burroughs seems to attack the...

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Ideas for Group Discussions

1. Can Ajor and Co-Tan be happy in the world outside of Caspak? What problems might they encounter? How well would they deal with the...

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Topics for Discussion

1. Can Ajor and Co-Tan ever be happy in the world outside of Caspak? What problems might they encounter?

2. What is the narrative...

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Ideas for Reports and Papers

1. Write your own adventure in the land of Caspak, keeping the setting consistent with the world as Burroughs describes it.


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Related Titles / Adaptations

Burroughs's books about Pellucidar, a land at the center of the earth, have much in common with The Land That Time Forgot. The...

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For Further Reference

Aldiss, Brian W. "From Barsoom to Beyond the Borderlands: Swords, Sorceries and Zitdars." In Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science...

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