Sunday, September 30, 2007


I am not going to lie, Lost Horizon has lost my interest. The "owner" of this blog has urged me to read on and of course I will but hopefully the rest of the book is better than these three chapters.

I'm not liking the "moderation"

What the heck is Chang talking about? "We rule with moderate strictness, and in return we are satisfied with moderate obediance."Ch 4. Who in their right mind would ever be that satisfied with being moderate? Why aren't they striving to be perfect? Why don't they want perfect obediance? I guess that how the author used the word moderate made me think that the Lamas are doing just enough to make themselves feel they are doing right but they don't go over the top and try to do great things. I guess I just sort of see a laziness in moderation. Then again we are taught to have moderation in all things so I guess this post is actually sort of useless. Sorry to waste anyones time. Please don't think I'm an idiot.

Now, on to Mallison. I really do feel for the guy. He has people in England that love him and want him home. I don't like how is made to look like the paranoid, pessemistic guy that doesn't appreciate the beauty of Shangra-La and just wants to go home. Of course he wants to go home. I am amazed at how easy the rest of them have adjusted.

Conway. I am not sure what to make of him this week. He is still concerned for the others but he is enjoying himself so much. We'll have to wait till next week and see what else happens.

What's So Great about Shangri-La Anyway?

Okay. I admit it. Shangri-La has completely sucked me in (just as it is doing Conway who found the puzzle of Shangri-La gave him a "charming fascination," ch. 4 ). What is so charming about the place anyway?

Well for starters, it is isolated and in a dangerous place (cold, harsh mountains, high altitude that is difficult to breathe in, no ordinary wind--but a living frenzy, ch. 2, entered only by way of a steep, narrow, difficult ascent) yet it is strong and prodcues strong people who can survive it (Conway admires the men carrying Chang's chair as well as Chang being able to sleep through the ascent, being situated in the valley largely protects it from the cold, and it has drugs that relieve breathlessness, ch. 4).

It seems to represent the ancient in its customs and isolation, but yet it also has a touch of the modern in that it has central heating and modern baths. It is loaded with mystery and it is a type of mystery that is charming (unlike, say, the mystery surrounding a violent murder). It is beautiful and produces beautiful things--art and music--seemingly not for the sake of collecting or making money, but because it is wonderful.

In particular I can see why it is charming to Conway. Mallinson says Conway is "confoundedly philosopic." Ch. 3. And the place seems full of philosophic people, I mean hell, they are monks, and seemingly committed to learning (the library), producing art, and living in a philosophic way. I think Conway both admires and envies the lives grounded in a meaningful purpose, though we don't know what that purpose is yet. Conway suffers from lack of deep purpose in life--no relationships, he is not an empire builder and his professional success lacks heart, it is for a salary and to accomplish it he sometimes puts on a one act play. Ch. 4. Also, because Conway is a person who likes and is used to "creat[ing] and control[ling] an atmosphere," Shangri-La is worthy of his admiration because it appears to be a created and very much controlled atmosphere as well as a challenge because it is not an atmosphere he can control. Ch. 4. Additionally, Conway seems to have a sort of contempt for his lower intellect companions. But at Shangri-La he comes face to face with a man of "high intelligence," Chang, who thus merits Conway's respect. Ch. 5. Conway doesn't mind the mystery and untrustworthiness of Chang because he is a man on Conway's level. Shangri-La seems to have that which Conway craves most in life: worthy companionship, isolation from unworthy people/goals/places, beautiful surroundings, challenge (physical and intellectual), and a place to learn and improve one's artitistic abilities.

It is a place where someone like Conway can feel the "pleasant mingling of physical ease and mental alertness." Ch. 4. So far, I am completely enchanted by Shangri-La and like Conway am willing to take the good with the bad if only I could just be there. And though there is still a lot of the book left, I am willing to declare that I am sure Shangri-La will not disappoint. It just couldn't. It's Shangri-La!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hear Hear

I agree with Karen and do not want to make any snap judgements about the characters of the book. I was too quick to do that with poor Fogg. Now, it clearly states that Conway just doesn't like to be active. He is not lazy, he will work hard when he needs to. But he likes the quiet. For him to be impressed with the "virgin" beauty of Tibet and not impressed with Mount Everest tells me that he likes solitude. What I like about him is that he is smart, works hard, and does care for others around him. I like how he keeps asking Brinklow is she is okay. I guess the person he should be worried about is Mallison. But who would not be frantic in a situation like this? It seems to me that Mallison is the person who is going to keep things real, in the pessimistic way of course. I'm interested to see what strengths the American will bring to the group.

First Impressions

I have decided on holding off judgement of the characters this week, I want more time to decide who they are, and try and be open minded about them, instead of relying on my first impressions, which differ in someways from what has been stated so far.

I really wanted to be the one to talk about "cigars burning low" I was struck with that line too.
I love when a book takes me with it, and this book is doing just that.

Hilton-what a ride!

I enjoy the ability of an author to "take you away" "Cigars had burned low, and we were beginning to sample the disillusionment that usually affects old school friends who have met again as men and found themselves with less in common than they had believed they had." Cigars burning low denotes a passage of time and celibate gentlemen were not uncommon characters in novels of that era. Three men: an embassy secretaray, an author and a neurologist. But is this style a bit reminiscent of Bronte and Dickens-a book within a book? A story telling device. Another character revealing device used by the author, train rides and plane rides. So I am very much enjoying the "story telling."

But don't you like Hilton's descriptions? He describes the sea as having a "pale, sticky look, like condensed milk." And Miss Brinklow's comment about traversing the sky as the will of God. And Conway's mental comment"the will of God or the lunacy of man" or the will of man or the lunacy of God" at the beginning of Chapter 2.

And Conway was not only an athlete but a pianist. Spoke several languages and was kind (at least to narrator) p. 13 Was a thesbpian. And was likeable. A Rennaisance Man if you will. And apparently, in spite of what Sanders says is "alive". Rutherford gives us a hint into Conway's character by saying he (Conway) was cheerful but lacked personal desire. This is in the prologue before the story begins to unfold. And the narrator asserts that Conway had a " ... peculiar charm, a sort of winsomeness that's pleasant to remember". This guy has charisma!! But who is Rutherford to say that Conway should have been "great". Must we all be ambitious to be honorable. He wasn't an "earth shatterer"; he was a life toucher. Isn't that great? You see, Conway is my hero. He doesn't affect people "on purpose". He just is!

nothing clever comes to mind

I have really enjoyed the book. It really does grab you at the beginning with the two men talking about Conway. I think the piano playing was quite weird, but I'm sure it'll come back full circle and explain.

I think Conway is considered 'brave' because he is naturally good, according to other characters, at dealing with people. So when others, like Mallison, are freaking out, he is able to keep his cool and think through the situation clearly. I think part of this natural ability is him being able to read people well. To sit back and be quiet and observe. I feel I can compare Mallison to two other women I know. Conway is in control of himself. Part of this is age and experience. And as far as being 'great' I thought the one man who found him said that he choose what he did in the war and enjoyed it. I think all that experience will help him in Shangri-la. I'm sure Conway is brave, great and all those other things and in a very realistic and not fantized way.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hugh (who) is Conway? Nice play on words.

After the pilot (hijacker) lands, refuels the tank and takes off again, Mallinson as a result of his maniacal state makes a couple of statements, based upon prior interactions at work, that lead the reader to deduce certain attributes or abilities that Conway may posses. The question is though, does he?

Mallinson says, "...we're damned lucky in having him with us in a tight corner like this." Quickly followed by "...he's got a sort of way with him in dealing with people. If anyone can get us out of the mess, he'll do it." Chapter 1. He speaks about Conway as if he were a hero, a real go-getter, a dare devil quick to action in all situations, desiring to be the man in charge.

Miss Brinklow adds "I think he looks like a very brave man." Chapter 1. As one of her few remarks, I am lead to believe that her statement is based solely upon assumptions. Conway remains quiet while the others argue, he "pretends" to relax and sleep while the others are uptight about the situation and he has kept his cool in a dangerous situation. At first glance he appears to be "brave" but what does Conway think, feel or see?

He sits in his seat contemplating the thoughts and words of the others on his behalf and discredits most of them. His reminiscence of various time periods causes him to discount their comments based upon his life experiences. He "was far less certain that he was a very brave man." He foresees his so called bravery as a call to duty because the four of them have found themselves in such an awkward situation. He denies, introspectively, the perceptions of his character as stated by Mallinson and is even "dismayed" by the very thought.

So the question, as stated previously is...who is Conway? Is his true character what the others perceive or is it more accurately defined by his own perceptions?

Hugh Conway--Certainly Glorious, but Great?

Conway described as: "a jolly fine chap," "certainly clever," "extraordinarily kind," "remarkable," "extremely good looking," "just brilliant," and possessing a "peculiar charm," and a "queer core of attractiveness," certainly had a lot of potential. Prologue. Perhaps it is these qualities or at least the ability to seem to possess these qualities that makes him glorious and well-deserving of his nickname.

But is Conway really all these things and if so, is he living to his full potential? Those are the two questions I expect this book to answer. Rutherford, the narrator, notes that "Conway was--or should have been--great." Prologue.

Conway does not seem at this point to feel fulfilled nor to be achieving his full potential of greatness. While he wasn't unhappy, he had only a "moderately enjoyable decade," no family, and while meeting with his friends was a pleasant prospect it was nothing to "sigh for in anticipation." Ch. 1. Though capable of hard work, Conway was not "passionately fond of activity, and did not enjoy responsibility at all." Ch. 1. He was not especially ambitious and simply had "a love of quietness, contemplation, and being alone." Thus far, it appears that while Conway is content in his life he lacks a passion or a cause or even a relationship with any person that would motivate him to achieve greatness. I suspect and hope this will change as he gets to know people in Shangri-La.

Monday, September 17, 2007


This post is for all of your Freestone's that have missed me so much. I would like to give a shout out to Debs and let you know that all of my comments on the book will be interesting, intellectual and with the intent to ruffle your feathers. For the rest of the Freestone's reading the book, I hope that we can interact like adults and enjoy what is posted.

Unlike Tecia, I have not even thought about checking out the book from the library or finding out where the library is for that matter. However, in order to get Shyla off of my freaking back I will try to find the library tomorrow.

It is nice to be in good company again. Enjoy the book.


Dear family, it may please more of you than others to know that I am reading the book. Shyla talked me into it and Mom had an extra copy for me. I think Eddie will read it when I'm in the hospital, not that it matters, he doesn't comment, but still.

I have read the prologue and chap.1. It really grabs your attention at the beginning. So if you haven't started, you will like it, I'm sure.

I hoping it will help pass Annie's late night feedings.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lost Horizon: Fun Facts

Shangri-La has become a byword for a mythical utopia--a permanently happy land, isolated from the world.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt named the Presidential hideaway in Maryland after Shangri-La. (It has since been renamed Camp David.)

Lost Horizon has been made into two films and served as the basis for a Broadway musical.

Zhongdian, a mountain region of southwest China, has now been renamed Shangri-La (Xianggelila), based on its claim to have inspired Hilton's book.

Shangri-La is referenced in various songs including songs by Elton John, Led Zeppelin, Billy Idol, Stevie Nicks, AC/DC, a duet by Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, and Motley Crue.

The United States navy named one of its aircraft carriers USS Shangri-La.

Because of its position as Number One in what became a very long list of Pocket editions, James Hilton's Lost Horizon is often cited as the first American paperback book, which is not correct. Some (including Nikki and Wikipedia) claim the first paperback book was The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, but this is also hotly debated.