Lost Horizon

Lost Horizon
Catalog # SKU1775
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name James Hilton



James Hilton

James Hilton's Lost Horizon is assured a place in the annals of publishing history, not necessarily for its literary value, but for the simple fact that it was the first novel published in paperback in 1939 by Ian Ballantine.

Hilton employs several traditional methods in his story. The novel opens in a gentleman's club in Berlin where four Englishmen have met for the evening. Talk turns to a plane hi-jacking which had occured in Baskul, India the previous year. When the men realize they all knew one of the kidnap victims, Hugh Conway, the conversation briefly touches on his probable fate. After the group breaks up, one of their number, the author Rutherford, confides to another that he has seen Conway since the kidnapping and goes on to provide a manuscript accounting for Conway's experiences.

Conway is among four kidnap victims, the others being Mallinson, his young assistant who is anxious to get back to civilization, Barnard, a brash American, and Miss Brinklow, an evangelist.

Conway himself rounds out the group as an established diplomat and stoic. When the plane crashes in the Kuen-Lun Mountains, the quartet is rescued and taken to the hidden lamasery of Shangri-La.

Lost Horizon is not, of course, an adventure novel. It is more cerebral than that. The monks at Shangri-La believe in a philosophy which is a mix of Christianity as brought to the valley by the eighteenth century French priest Perrault and the Buddhism which existed before Perrault's arrival. The motto of these monks could best be summed up as "Everything in moderation, even moderation."

The valley of Shangri-la is a peaceful place, taking from the world around it, but remaining aloof from all the negative actions of that world. Although idyllic, it is not the paradise of the Bible, nor of any Western philosophy, invoking instead much that is Eastern. The dichotomy between the world outside the valley and the society which Hilton envisioned is brought into even starker contrast by today's knowledge that a war much worse than the one Conway fought in, would engulf many regions of the world less than a decade after Hilton wrote the book. Hilton foresaw another great war and mentions it as a vague prophecy in the book.

One very telling moment comes when Miss Brinklow decides to attempt to understand the religious beliefs of the valley's residents. When she announces her intention of converting the monastery's followers, the lama's neither stand in her way nor help, they merely allow her to do as she will.

Lost Horizon is the type of book written to make the reader think. Even at the very end, when everything seems to be settled, Hilton throws the reader a curve ball, causing them to wonder whether Conway's memories of Shangri-La are real or merely the result of shock and exposure. And, if they are real, does the secret guarded in Shangri-La really exist or was it merely a fairy tale?

Softcover, 5¼" x 8¾", 110+ pages

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