Introduction to Literature

The Lost World

Towards Paper Topics


* How does Darwinism apply to the book? or, What role does social Darwinism play in the book? [Good starting point but far too broad for a short paper! A crucial subject, so just narrow it down somehow.]

* What is the significance of the "stool of penance" (22)? [Probably too specific, and focused on an issue and moment seemingly not crucial to the work.]

* The humans are more "animal" than the animals. [True, but tending towards an opinion paper.]

* Compare the two professors. [What will we get? Just a pointless comparison paper?]


1) Critique the book in light of the "men's movement" (i.e., masculinism, the recently emerging "men's studies"). Is this a useful text? It reflects the philosophy where and how? Does it succeed in convincing readers of any truth to this philosophy?

2) Science or male ego boost?

3) What is the function of the courtly love frame? Since it finally is dismissed, what takes its place?

4) What is the attitude towards the land itself in The Lost World?

5) Trace the speciesistic attitude displayed by the characters and certified by Doyle. What factors determine the classification of animals in the book and what does this attitude do? [Don't just assert that it exists in the text.]

6) Trace the Eurocentric hierarchy of races created in the book, and comment.

7) Discuss the brand of social Darwinism, or even "pop" Darwinism in the book, possibly as an extension of Memmi's dynamics of racism.

8) Explore the ethical problems involved in the self-justification for systematic genocide (or speciesicide?) and the cover-up. [See pages 170, 174, 178, 181, 200, and O.T. ref.]

9) "Great minds mould all of nature to their use" (175). Discuss.

10) What is really "lost," according to Doyle?

11) Why do Challenger and the king of the ape-men look alike? [Potentially an interesting starting point, but requires extreme inspiration probably.]

12) Explain the significance of those stories we never get: the Guinea pig from hell (185; cf. 112), the poisonous moth (201), the "great nocturnal white thing" (184).

Use MLA documentation (author page) for secondary sources, such as journal articles. Include Doyle in the list of Works Cited. Underline or italicize the title of the book; use quotation marks for articles. There is no need to use Doyle's name in the parenthetical page citations for quotations from The Lost World; it should be obvious when you are quoting from the primary source here.

Davies, Howard. "The Lost World: Conan Doyle and the Suspense of Evolution." Nineteenth-Century Suspense: From Poe to Conan Doyle. Ed. Clive Bloom et al. NY: St. Martin's Press, 1988. 107-119.

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Lost World. 1912. Chicago: Chicago Academy Pub., 1990.