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The Lost World literary genre is a fantasy or science fiction genre that involves the discovery of a new world out of time, place, or both. It began as a subgenre of the late-Victorian imperial romance and remains popular to this day. The genre arose during an era when lost civilizations around the world were being discovered, such as Egypt's Valley of the Kings, the city of Troy, or the empire of Assyria. Real stories of archaeological discoveries by imperial adventurers captured the public imagination. Between 1871 and the First World War, the number of published "Lost World" narratives, set in every continent, drastically increased. [1]

The hugely popular King Solomon's Mines (1885) by H. Rider Haggard is sometimes considered the first of the Lost World genre.[2] Haggard's novel shaped the genre and influenced later "lost world" narratives, including Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King (1888), Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (1912), Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Land That Time Forgot (1918), A. Merritt's The Moon Pool (1918), and HP Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness (1931). Contemporary American novelist, Michael Crichton, invokes this tradition in his novel Congo (1980), which involves a quest for King Solomon's mines, fabled to be in a lost African city called Zinj.

Earlier works, such as Samuel Butler's Erewhon (1872) use a similar plot as a vehicle for Swiftian social satire rather than romantic adventure. Other early examples are Simon Tyssot de Patot's Voyages et Aventures de Jacques Massé (1710), which includes a prehistoric fauna and flora, and Robert Paltock's The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins (1751), an 18th-century imaginary voyage inspired by both Defoe and Swift, where a man named Peter Wilkins discovers a race of winged people on an isolated island surrounded by high high cliffs as in Burrough's Caspak. The 1820 hollow earth novel Symzonia has also been cited as the first of the Lost World genre.[3] Edgar Allan Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838) has certain lost world elements towards the end of the tale.

James Hilton's Lost Horizon (1933) enjoyed popular success in using the genre as a takeoff for popular philosophy and social comment. It introduced the name Shangri-La, a meme for the idealization of the Lost World as a paradise.

The Lost World genre is present in many other media. In video games, it is most notably present in Tomb Raider and its sequels. In movies, the Indiana Jones franchise makes use of similar concepts.

The genre has similar themes to "mythical kingdoms", such as El Dorado.

See also

References

  1. ^ Bradley Deane, "Imperial Barbarians: Primitive Masculinity in Lost World Fiction" (.pdf)
  2. ^ According to Robert E. Morsberger in the "Afterword" of King Solomon's Mines, The Reader's Digest (1993).
  3. ^ Becker, Allienne R. (1992). The Lost Worlds Romance: From Dawn Till Dusk. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313261237.  

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