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An Analysis Of Hilton's Lost Horizon

1069 words - 4 pages

An Analysis of Hilton's Lost Horizon

   "...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, the High Lama even realizes Conway's potential. Conway is honored to become the successor, and soon after, the High Lama dies. Mallinson, still fuming with animosity towards the lamasery continues to make his plea to leave. Finally, he just leaves, but with him travels Conway, for he was fond of his friend, and his friend also took with him Lo-Tsen, the beauty he secretly loved.

Hilton's novel leaves the reader with an unsolved mystery since the mystical powers of the "slowing of the aging process" remained only within the grounds of the lamasery. Conway soon realizes this as Lo-Tsen ages instantaneously, and transforms into a woman "...most old of any one I have ever seen." From here he must navigate himself back to the safety of the placid lamasery, but does he make it?

At this Hilton returns to the frame, in which the neurologist friend of his is trying to trace Conway's path and find this sacred civilization. The tale was only revealed since he found Conway during his "escape" from the lamasery, and had him write the manuscript dictating his story.

Fictional characters fall loosely into two categories: types and individuals. A type character being one that is usually the embodiment of a single trait or...

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