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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 during the late Victorian era 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. Public imagination was ready to believe just about anything as real stories of Indiana Jones type discoveries made headlines.

King Solomon's Mines (1885) by H. Rider Haggard was the first of the Lost World genre[1], and was very popular. It laid the groundwork and was highly influential on Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Land That Time Forgot, Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, Edgar Wallace's King Kong and Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King.

Other works, such as Samuel Butler's Erewhon (slightly earlier than the above), use a similar plot as a vehicle for Swiftian social satire, rather than a pure adventure story. James Hilton's Lost Horizon (novel) had great popular success in using the genre as a takeoff for popular philosophy and social comment, rather, again, than pure adventure. That book introduced the name Shangri-La, which became a popular commonplace for the idea a Lost World as a paradise.

More recent Lost World books include Michael Crichton's The Lost World which was the basis for the movie The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

The genre has similar themes to "mythical kingdoms", such as El Dorado. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_World_%28genre%29 [Jul 2006]


  1. Lost Highways: An Illustrated History of Road Movies () Jack Sargeant (Editor), Stephanie Watson (Editor), Stephen Watson [Amazon.com]
    The road movie: a complex cinematic journey that incorporates mythic themes of questing and searching, the need for being, for love, for a home and for a promise of a different future, and yet also serves as a map of current cultural desires, dreams, and fears.

    Lost Highways explores the history of the road movie through a series of detailed essays on key films within the genre. Through these comprehensive and absorbing studies a clear and concise post-modern picture of the road movie emerges, tracing hitherto neglected intersections with other genres such as the western, film noir, horror and even science fiction.

    From "The Wizard of Oz" to "Crash", "Apocalypse Now" to "Vanishing Point", "The Wild Bunch" to "Easy Rider", Lost Highways is the definitive illustrated guide to a diverse body of film which holds at its nucleus the quintessential cinematic/ cultural interchange of modern times.

    See also: road movies

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