Lost Horizon is a 1933 novel by English writer James Hilton. It is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La, a fictional utopian lamasery high in the mountains of Tibet. Hugh Conway, a veteran member of the British diplomatic service, finds inner peace, love, and a sense of purpose in Shangri-La, whose inhabitants enjoy unheard-of longevity. ...
Lost Horizon is a 1933 novel by English writer James Hilton. It is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La, a fictional utopian lamasery high in the mountains of Tibet. Hugh Conway, a veteran member of the British diplomatic service, finds inner peace, love, and a sense of purpose in Shangri-La, whose inhabitants enjoy unheard-of longevity. Among the book's themes is an allusion to the possibility of another cataclysmic world war brewing, as indeed it was at the time. It is said to have been inspired at least in part by accounts of travels in Tibetan borderlands, published in the National Geographic by the explorer and botanist Joseph Rock. The remote communities he visited, such as Muli, show many similarities to the fictional Shangri-La. One such town, Zhongdian, has now officially renamed itself as Shangri La (Chinese: Xianggelila) because of its claim to be the inspiration for the novel. The book explicitly notes that having made war on the ground man would now fill the skies with death, and that all precious things were in danger of being lost, like the lost histories of Rome ("Lost books of Livy"). It was hoped that overlooked by the violent, Shangri-la would preserve them and reveal them later to a receptive world exhausted by war. That was the real purpose of the Lamasary; study, inner peace and long life were a side benefit to living there. Conway is a veteran of the trench warfare of WWI, with the emotional state frequently cited after that war--a sense of emotional exhaustion or accelerated emotional aging. This harmonizes with the existing residents of the lamasary and he is strongly attracted to life at Shangri-La.
This is one of the greatest books ever written. It won James Hilton the Hawthorndon Prize. I first saw the movie (an epic achievement!) when I was a child of ten--I'm 65 now. My mother bought me the book when I was 13. It is a book which has guided me through life. I almost know it by heart. Don't miss either the book or the movie--the first movie. Don't settle for a remake. Don't expect flash and action. You may have to work for the true meaning, but it is there. You will find peace and incredible beauty. Go to Shangri-La. You will never want to leave.
May 7, 2010
a book that has not stood up to the passageof time
Oct 27, 2007
a true gem...
i first saw the movie 'lost horizon' when i was just a kid...it made an impression on me that has lasted my whole life time..i have just finished re reading the book, and truthfully it may, at first glance, seem rather boring..but if you persist, you get drawn into shang-ri-la just as the hero, conway was...i guess i will just have to keep reading until i totally grasp the reason he turned his back on the honor of 'high lama'...i am assuming it was because his friend, the young englishman wanted to leave so badly that he was totally upsetting the equilibrium of shang-ri-la badly enough that conway just gave up and took him away...however, conways redemption is the fact that, apparently he intends to return, and has undertaken the return journey...the reader sincerely hopes and believes he returned ....
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