"THERE ARE HEROISMS ALL ROUND US": FIRST EDITION OF CONAN DOYLE'S THE LOST WORLD
CONAN DOYLE, Sir Arthur. The Lost World. London: Hodder and Stoughton, . Octavo, original pictorial navy cloth. Housed in a custom slipcase. $1600.
First edition, ordinary-paper issue, of Conan Doyle's "robust adventure story," illustrated with eight tipped-in plates, including frontispiece photographic portrait of "the members of the exploring party."
As early as 1889, Conan Doyle mused about writing "a Rider Haggardy kind of book… dedicated to all the naughty boys of the Empire." By 1911 "he was writing it at last… inspired in part by local fossil evidences of prehistoric life"—including two fossilized iguanadon feet, a Stone Age flint arrowhead—and "by sentiments expressed at a May 1910 luncheon in honor of the Arctic explorer Robert Peary… [For] The Lost World, he turned to a barely explored region of the Amazon in South America; for as he said at Peary's luncheon, 'romance writers are a class of people who very much dislike being hampered by facts'" (Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters, 577-8). The book introduces Professor Challenger—a heroic scientist who "ranks second only to Sherlock Holmes in the Conan Doyle pantheon… [Conan Doyle] succeeds in painting vivid impressions of the prehistoric forest, now hushed and gloomy, now splashed with colorful, riotous life" (Fantasy: 100 Best Books 27). Conan Doyle partly based Challenger "on Professor [William] Rutherford whom [he] had known at Edinburgh and partly on himself" (Green & Gibson, 168-9). The Lost World, his "finest scientific romance, is a robust adventure story that brought a new sophistication to a standard boys' book formula and provided the lost race story with its ultimate flourish" (Anatomy of Wonder II 354). Michael Crichton borrowed the title for his 1995 novel The Lost World, later turned into the movie of the same title, a sequel to Jurassic Park. Issued along with a large-paper edition, no priority established. Without very rare original dust jacket. Green & Gibson A37. Bookplate of English Liberal politician Sir Herbert Leon.
Only infrequent scattered light foxing to text, endpapers a bit embrowned; cloth mildly rubbed. An extremely good copy.