Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Reading THE LOST WORLD

Meta fiction, anyone? Photo insert from the first edition of THE LOST WORLD, playfully picturing Professor Challenger (portrayed by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself) and other members of his fabled expedition.
I'm presently in the midst of reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's THE LOST WORLD (1912) for the first time - very slowly, perhaps a chapter each night before bed, or perhaps two if I've skipped a night. The way the book is written, as a series of time-released missives, actually lends itself to such an approach surprisingly well. What has thus far most surprised me about the book is that, 1) despite however many adaptations and rip-offs there have been, its story has yet to be faithfully filmed, and 2) the still-startling imagination that went into its descriptions of live dinosaurs, written before the movies and stop-motion animation began lending themselves to the task, conveys some startling imagery we've never seen onscreen, perhaps because it is somewhat at odds with what we think we know of dinosaurs now. In short, if you love dinosaurs and have never read this book because you've seen the films and assume you know it, you're missing an important experience. That is, eavesdropping on a time when all that existed of dinosaurs was some bones, some Charles R. Knight paintings, and the eureka of a writer's raw imagination.

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