View Poll Results: Lost Horizon, by James Hilton

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Thread: Lost Horizon, by James Hilton

  1. #1
    Registered User alansnq's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Fortaleza - Brasil

    Lost Horizon, by James Hilton

    If a Chinese had made Shangri-La, certainly the mythical earthly paradise, hidden somewhere in Tibet, would not have so frankly western colors. And had not stimulated so many souls of this side of globe - since 1933 when “Lost Horizon” was released - to embark on the idea of a society built under the benevolent judge of peace and wisdom, detached from our world of deadlines and timetables, focused on what is innermost in human being.

    The book became a best-seller instantly. Moreover, the English writer James Hilton was lucky. He gave birth to the 248-page-novel at the right moment in history: the world was largely collapsed by the worst capitalist crisis so far and saw emerge, inert, Nazism and Fascism in Europe - the basis for outbreak World War II three years later. Shangri-La was converted into an alternative to an inevitable West about to explode.

    But to be palatable to this particular taste, this city ends up gaining French priests, students of Chopin’s music and natives dedicated to the study of European culture. "You see, we are less barbaric than you expected," says Chang, one of the lamas of the monastery who greets outsiders, brought to Shangri-La after their plane got hijacked. Over time, the lack of barbarism is not just because the monastery, even thousands of miles from large cities, has so many and such good accommodations that impress newcomers. Indeed, the very logic of Shangri-La is a westernized civilization, based on Aristotelian median quality and taming of passions. No wonder that the village has acquired the features that it currently has in the narrative by the hands of a Christian - not without the help of Buddhists, of course.

    It is believed that the Hilton's fabulous novel is a fictional misrepresentation, very well-planned, of the expeditionary Joseph Rock’s text, published in National Geographic around 1930. The text is about the same part of China where the action supposedly takes place in the book. Rock’s description of Mountain Konkaling resembles in many points to delighted Karakal in Shangri-La. Or maybe the inspiration has come from Kawakarpo Hill, where Hilton also clamps the colonization of French priests. Certainly the most impressive comes from similarities to Muli’s monastery, also led by a theocratic government, far from the modern world, whose ruler had repeated meetings with Rock – as English consul Conway, in Shangri-La, has with Superior Lama.

    But, if it is true that Shangri-La is fully understood by the particular perspective of white European colonizers, it is also true that Hilton was able to encapsulate a single mythical place, with force, precision and sagacity – a profound hole of West projections to find in earthly life an atmosphere of peace, tranquility and wisdom, where time is no longer the result of concerns, but instead viewed with serenity. It's a fascinating idea that crossed the twentieth century totally intact. And it does not show signs of exhaustion. The roads are open in Tibet. Muli remains intact. Shangri-La too.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    Cool Just prior to WWII, when the Japanese wondered ....

    where the Flying tigers of General Clair Chennault were coming from, FDR replied Shang Gra La.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Isn't this the same writer who invented the character of Mr Chips? I think I heard the book read on the radio when I was young.

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