WARNING: Ripping Book Reviews are solely the judgments of Professor VJ Duke on an unlucky book that has caused him much repulsion—in one way or another. Therefore, blame must be put on the professor and nobody else. With that in mind, read on—if you are brave enough to take it.
THE LOST WORLD by ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
Doyle and I have had it out before in the arena. On that fateful day (Doyle lost), The White Company was ripped to such a degree that Mark Twain smiled in his grave. Truly.
But today—this fateful day in the arena—Doyle and I meet again; this time for an even severer ripping, for he has dared to show his face again after his defeat—an un-manly thing to do indeed.
Enough of this silliness!
Onward with the ripping.
The Lost World opens with a rather interesting description. I’d like to share it with you:
Mr. Hungerton, her father, really was the most tactless person upon earth—a fluffy, feathery, untidy cockatoo of a man, perfectly good-natured, but absolutely centered upon his own silly self.
Now, this is an interest. Mr. Hungerton is good-natured, but he’s self-centered. In other words, he possesses a pleasant disposition, but he tends to concentrate selfishly on his own needs and shows little interest in those of others. A contradiction? Absolutely. But it’s better than that. It’s a Doyle Contradiction. One of the best.
It can be definitely considered an omen when a Doyle Contradiction is found in the first sentence on the first page of one of his novels.
But I ignored it, and read on.
Presently, we come upon a scene. Edward Malone (the protagonist, I suppose) is trying to win his lady friend’s heart. But he is failing. She is completely uninterested in him. And, unfortunately, this is the story for Malone.
You know how I say things are an interest? Well, Malone is an un-interest. The first of his kind, I believe.
Anyway, Gladys—Malone’s lady friend—wants Malone to impress her with an adventure or something. Something that will make her worship him. A tall task indeed. Especially for the un-interest. Nevertheless, though, he sets about it. Hence, an adventure; hence, the premise of the novel.
We can incur from this that Doyle struggled making up his mind—a common problem with Doyle. You see, Doyle wasn’t sure how he was going to get Malone to go on an adventure. It was a tricky business. But Doyle finally figured it out.
Gladys would want Malone to go on an adventure, to prove himself. Ah! That would work. And it did. I must say, Malone found an adventure nicely wrapped, packaged, and delivered by the incredible Doyle himself, who is always looking after his un-interests.
Now, we get to Professor Challenger, the creature who takes Malone on the adventure. Why creature, you may ask? Well, here’s a description. You know how descriptions affect this professor:
His appearance made me gasp… …His head was enormous, the largest I have ever seen upon a human being… …He had the face and beard which I associate with an Assyrian bull; the former florid, the latter so black as almost to have a suspicion of blue… A huge spread of shoulders and a chest like a barrel were the other parts of him which appeared above the table, save for two enormous hands covered with long black hair.
Of course, this presents a very specific picture to the professor, and I’m sure it does to you as well.
Unfortunately, Doyle has done this professor a great injustice here. I assure you, professors do not look like hairy, thickset, beasts. I promise. I wouldn’t lie. But Doyle? He would contradict himself—which he did.
Eventually, Challenger and Malone—and some other dull characters—depart for an expedition. They come to a plateau in the Amazon basin of South America where prehistoric animals are present. They also find ape-men. No doubt relatives of Challenger’s.
I meant that as a joke, but Doyle didn’t. This is what he had to say:
Then one of them [i.e. ape-men] stood out beside Challenger… …I couldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. This old ape-man—he was their chief—was a sort of red Challenger, with every of our friend’s beauty points, only just a trifle more so. He had the short body, the big shoulders, the round chest, no neck, a great ruddy frill of a beard, the tufted eyebrows…
Aha! We have another example of a Doyle Contradiction here! Professor Challenger is supposedly the smartest man on the expedition, but, what is this? He looks like an ape-man? Does Doyle consider him a link between some un-interest like Malone and an ape-man? I’m afeared that he does. And this, is a Doyle Contradiction. The smartest man is a link, which means he is a little smarter than the ape-men and a little less intelligent than Malone. Of course, that can’t be true since Malone is quite dull. Duller than a rock, I would suppose. In fact, Malone probably has the intelligence of one of the ape-men but not the looks. Challenger has the looks but not the intelligence.
Now I shall give you an example of Malone’s supreme dullness. Malone meets a dinosaur:
A great dark shadow disengaged itself and hopped out into the clear moonlight. I say ‘hopped’ advisedly, for the beast moved like a kangaroo… …It was of enormous size and power, like an erect elephant… …this beast had a broad, squat, toad-like face…
Malone thought this an iguanodon; I thought it was a Doyle-o-don. How Malone could think otherwise is a great mystery to me. I do think that a kangaroo/elephant/toad-headed creature should be an object of scorn, not trepidation.
But Malone is scared of the toad-faced Doyle-o-don. I think we must give credit to Doyle for inventing a new dinosaur.
Well, more could be ripped, but… I do believe Doyle has been defeated—again. Maybe a sequel ripping in the future?
What can we expect from an author whose work is reminiscent of the works of H.G. Wells (a rip to come soon) and Jules Verne?
I do believe that they took all of Doyle’s fantasies, molded them together into a package, and produced Conan the Barbarian.
Just a thought.
An incredible thought.
A scary thought.