"...the horizon lifted like a curtain; time expanded and space contracted" In James Hilton's Lost Horizon, the reader is promptly enticed to trek along with Hugh Conway and the three other kidnapped passengers, Charles Mallinson, Miss Brinklow, and Henry Barnard. Hilton commences his novel by utilizing the literary technique of a frame. At a dinner meeting, friends share their insights into life, and eventually, from a neurologist, and friend of Conway, evolves the story of Conway's exotic adventures.
Apparently, Conway and the other three characters were on a plane that was hijacked by a member of the mystic civilization of Shangri-La. After crashing in the midst of nowhere, Conway led his group out of the plane and as they began to search for help, Chang and a group of Shangri-La men intercepted them and escorted them back to their lamasery. Eventually they realize they are not permitted to leave its boundaries, as the proviso of entering the Valley of the Blue Moon, Shangri-La, is that one cannot leave.
Weeks pass, and the kidnapped crew, with the exception of Mallinson, become accustomed to the Shangri-La way of life, namely moderation, as well as spiritual and intellectual growth. Conway, able to decipher numerous languages including Chinese was able to decode their "gibberish" and get a better idea what was going on. Eventually, through the telepathy of the ethereal High Lama, also the founder of the civilization (some two hundreds years previous), calls Conway to a meeting.
Hilton's "mini" climaxes, keep the reader compelled as he reveals more and more about this enigmatic place. As the novel continues, Conway is enlightened with the "inside scoop," and soon enough...
... middle of paper ...
...ut it, "Things happen to you and you just let them happen."
The most prominent concept of the novel and the community of the Valley of the Blue Moon (Shangri-La) was the "time stands still" enigma. To live over a hundred years is quite a feat, but in this civilization it was the norm. In Shangri-La, when you reached a hundred years of age you were "promoted" to lamahood. They figured that by the time you were a hundred all the "passions and moods of ordinary life are likely to have disappeared," and then you'd be able to search for that inner meaning of life. The paradoxes of life and death, and the question everyone ponders, Why?
Works Cited and Consulted
Bellamy, Edward. Looking Backward. New York: New American Library, 1982.
Hilton, James. Lost Horizon. New York: Pocket Books, 1984.
Voltaire. Candide. London: Penguin Books; 1947.
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