What first struck me was the debate between Challenger and his wife on dignity, and what causes one to lose it. Jessie sees dignity as an external value and thus advocates lying to preserve it. Challenger sees it as an internal virtue, and thus would rather be viewed as a disgrace than compromise his own integrity.
I also found it interesting that Challenger explicitly states that he values "mental detachment" when he himself is so clearly ruled by passion.
I also found it interesting that the dead American was in many ways the hero of this chapter. Challenger even describes him as Bohemian, which allows the American to transgress societal taboos and discover the Lost World. I can think of another Conan Doyle hero of Bohemian habits who becomes a hero by social transgression.
Conan Doyle sets out the evidence in a chain of increasing authority as sketch<photos<narrative<specimen. It would seem to me that of these, in Conan Doyle's time, narrative would be the easiest to fake and thus the least authoritative. But, as a writer himself, ACD places narrative just below a physical specimen.
Finally, what I assume is a bit of foreshadowing: "The individual must not monopolize what was meant for the world."
Here is an excellent article shared by Ron Lies on the impact of The Lost World on the lives of a group of British POWs during WWI.
Chapter 4 My Thoughts
Quote “I was still unable to sympathize. It was a full-page sketch of a landscape roughly tinted in color— the kind of painting which an open-air artist takes as a guide to a future more elaborate effort. There was a pale-green foreground of feathery vegetation, which sloped upwards and ended in a line of cliffs dark red in color, and curiously ribbed like some basaltic formations which I have seen. They extended in an unbroken wall right across the background. At one point was an isolated pyramidal rock, crowned by a great tree, which appeared to be separated by a cleft from the main crag. Behind it all, a blue tropical sky. A thin green line of vegetation fringed the summit of the ruddy cliff.
"Well?" he asked. "It is no doubt a curious formation," said I "but I am not geologist enough to say that it is wonderful." "Wonderful!" he repeated. "It is unique. It is incredible. No one on earth has ever dreamed of such a possibility. Now the next." I turned it over, and gave an exclamation of surprise. There was a full-page picture of the most extraordinary creature that I had ever seen. It was the wild dream of an opium smoker, a vision of delirium.
The head was like that of a fowl, the body that of a bloated lizard, the trailing tail was furnished with upward-turned spikes, and the curved back was edged with a high serrated fringe, which looked like a dozen cocks' wattles placed behind each other. In front of this creature was an absurd mannikin, or dwarf, in human form, who stood staring at it. "Well, what do you think of that?" cried the Professor, rubbing his hands with an air of triumph. "It is monstrous— grotesque." "But what made him draw such an animal?" "Trade gin, I should think." "Oh, that's the best explanation you can give, is it?" "Well, sir, what is yours?" "The obvious one that the creature exists. That is actually sketched from the life."
I should have laughed only that I had a vision of our doing another Catharine-wheel down the passage. "No doubt," said I, "no doubt," as one humors an imbecile. "I confess, however," I added, "that this tiny human figure puzzles me. If it were an Indian we could set it down as evidence of some pigmy race in America, but it appears to be a European in a sun-hat." The Professor snorted like an angry buffalo. "You really touch the limit," said he. "You enlarge my view of the possible. Cerebral paresis! Mental inertia! Wonderful!" He was too absurd to make me angry. Indeed, it was a waste of energy, for if you were going to be angry with this man you would be angry all the time. I contented myself with smiling wearily. "It struck me that the man was small," said I. "Look here!" he cried, leaning forward and dabbing a great hairy sausage of a finger on to the picture. "You see that plant behind the animal; I suppose you thought it was a dandelion or a Brussels sprout— what? Well, it is a vegetable ivory palm, and they run to about fifty or sixty feet. Don't you see that the man is put in for a purpose? He couldn't really have stood in front of that brute and lived to draw it. He sketched himself in to give a scale of heights. He was, we will say, over five feet high. The tree is ten times bigger, which is what one would expect." "Good heavens!" I cried. "Then you think the beast was—— Why, Charing Cross station would hardly make a kennel for such a brute!" "Apart from exaggeration, he is certainly a well-grown specimen," said the Professor, complacently. "But," I cried, "Surely the whole experience of the human race is not to be set aside on account of a single sketch"— I had turned over the leaves and ascertained that there wassausage of a finger on to the picture. "You see that plant behind the animal; I suppose you thought it was a dandelion or a Brussels sprout— what? Well, it is a vegetable ivory palm, and they run to about fifty or sixty feet. Don't you see that the man is put in for a purpose? He couldn't really have stood in front of that brute and lived to draw it. He sketched himself in to give a scale of heights. He was, we will say, over five feet high. The tree is ten times bigger, which is what one would expect." "Good heavens!" I cried. "Then you think the beast was—— Why, Charing Cross station would hardly make a kennel for such a brute!" "Apart from exaggeration, he is certainly a well-grown specimen," said the Professor, complacently. "But," I cried, "surely the whole experience of the human race is not to be set aside on account of a single sketch"— I had turned over the leaves and ascertained that there wasnothing more in the book—" a single sketch by a wandering American artist who may have done it under hashish, or in the delirium of fever, or simply in order to gratify a freakish imagination. You can't, as a man of science, defend such a position as that." For answer the Professor took a book down from a shelf. "This is an excellent monograph by m
At last I have figured out this blog and am posting int he right place. I have only completed up to Chapter Six. I thought Edward's explanation as to why he would go with Lord John our of pride and fear, rather than courage was endearing.He does have to deal with these larger than life characters.
i thought that Lord John's use of the threat (which he had in fact previously dealt with) to test Malone's mettle was interesting as another example of the use of falsehoods comparable with Malone's letter to get the interview with Challenger. Both might be considered justifiable methods of achieving worthwhile goals.
On Chapter 5, I thought the opening description of the meeting with the rowdy medical students in the audience suggested it wold just be one more ruckus between Challenger and his critics, but in fact it ended in a quite tidy solution which set up the members of the exploring party. It reminded me of the encounters (more often in a tavern than a lecture hall) by which the members of an adventuring party in a role-playing game meet and arrange their quest (I play a good many RPGs, chiefly online.)
The vivid description of Lord John's rooms in the following chapter did much to establish his character as a sportsman/adventurer, though shooting a rare white rhino would not usually be considered a good deed nowadays. Still,.many Victorian hunters were like that. He reminds me of Sir Henry Curtis in King Solomon's Mines.
On the exchange between Summerlee and Challenger on the probable traits of the unseen natives --their use of polysynthetic languages and being of Mongoloid race, I had to look up polysynthetic, and learned (from Wikipedia) that "The term was invented by Peter Stephen Du Ponceau, who considered polysynthesis, as characterized by sentence words and noun incorporation, a defining feature of all Native American languages." In that respect, Challenger was right by the standards of his time, though Wikipedia goes on to say that De Ponceau has since been found to be wrong and some Native American languages are not polysynthetic. On the other hand, when Challenger doubts Summerlee's statement that the Natives would be "Mongoloid" (that is, Asian-descended) modern research has substantiated the view that the Native Americans originally came from NE Asia. This is another example, like Challenger's defiance of Weissman, in which he seems to delight in taking an unorthodox (and probably wrong) position.
A last comment as we approach the Lost World itself --I did like the possible glimpse of a pterodactyl as the first "outlying picket" -- a last moment of uncertainty which Challenger and Summerlee can each interpret in his own way. It is also a foreshadowing of the later importance of pterodactyls in the story. I do wonder, though, if pterodactyls were as mobile as Doyle makes them, why did they not spread further from the plateau which they were obviously able to leave? Perhaps he explains this later, but I do not recall it.
I apologize for posting so many times at once. I found time to read up through Chapter 8 in the last few days and wanted to comment on all I had read before I forgot the points that had struck me. One that aroused my doubts was the list of trees in the forest. In particular, I had never thought of redwoods as part of Brazilian forests. But I have now found online ads for products made from Brazilian redwood, so apparently it is true. The presence of vegetable ivory palms (like the one in Maple White's sketch) is also correct.I was also struck by the mention of Cattleya and Odontoglossum orchids, which are among the varieties cultivated by Nero Wolfe (almost my only source of orchid knowledge).
I also noticed the contrast between the strong, faithful but unintelligent black Zambo and the clever but unreliable 'halfbreed" Gomez, both stereotypes of much of the adventure fiction of the time (though Haggard, who had actually lived in Africa did not stereotype his black characters that way.) Doyle seems to have vacillated on that point, between the admirable (though dead) black husband in "the Yellow Face" to the heavy-handed negative image of the black prizefighter/thug in "The Mazarin Stone."
I have now read on through Chapters 9 and 10. Will we be creating a new section for, say, Chapters 9 through 12 or the like? I am not sure I should post on those chapters until I know more people have read them. I do not want to spoil them for those reading for the first time. I also do not want to overwhelm the system with excessive posts. My intent is to post about once for each chapter, but latterly other readers have not been posting. I hope they are still interested.
A weekly discussion group of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World"