Lost World (genre)


Lost World (genre)

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. [ [http://journals.cambridge.org/production/action/cjoGetFulltext?fulltextid=1689316 Bradley Deane, "Imperial Barbarians: Primitive Masculinity in Lost World Fiction" (.pdf)] ]

The hugely popular "King Solomon's Mines" (1885) by H. Rider Haggard was the first of the Lost World genre. [According to Robert E. Morsberger in the "Afterword" of "King Solomon's Mines", The Reader's Digest (1993).] Haggard's novel shaped the genre and influenced later "lost world" narratives, including Edgar Rice Burroughs's "The Land That Time Forgot", Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World", Rudyard Kipling's "The Man Who Would Be King" and HP Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness". 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. Another early example is Robert Paltock's "The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins", an 18th-century imaginary voyages inspired by both Gulliver 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. James Hilton's "Lost Horizon" (1933) enjoyed popular success in using the genre as a takeoff for popular philosophy and social comment. That book introduced the name Shangri-La, a meme for the idealization of the Lost World as a paradise.

More recent Lost World books include Michael Crichton's "Congo" and "The Lost World", both of which have been adapted as films.

The Lost World genre is present in many other mediums. In video games, it is most notably present in Tomb Raider and its sequels. In movies, the Indiana Jones series and Disney's National Treasure films make use of similar concepts.

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

Notes

See also

*List of non-fictional lost worlds


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