Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (1912), The Poison Belt (1913), and The Land of Mist (1926) feature his scientist hero Professor George Edward Challenger. These novels are obsessed with beginnings and endings thematized for three reasons: first, because Challenger is a scientist; second, because these tales belong to that phase of Conan Doyle’s career in which his Spiritualist beliefs and activities figured prominently in his intellectual and creative life; third, because they belong to a time when a great deal of intellectual and aesthetic attention was being focused on beginnings and endings. Science and Spiritualism seem antagonistic, but Conan Doyle insisted they are not since they explore survival, extinction, Death, new life, utopia and apocalypse. The balance of these great principles is essential and three novels’ beginnings and endings relate particularly to a theme that exercised Conan Doyle’s contemporaries in the fin de siécle in many forms—the end of the world.


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pp. 3-24
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