Hi everybody ! Do you remember how an old dying sycamore growing in Conan Doyle’s childhood garden, on the playground of what is now known as Dunedin School, in Edinburgh, had been given a second life ?
What a good idea to have a violin, called “Sherlock”, carved in the wood of the tree and to have it play on 22 may 2009, the very day of Conan Doyle’s 150 th birth anniversary ? So ingenious are our Scottish friends !
But this year, in Great Britain, another kind of homage is being paid to Conan Doyle as The Lost World (1912), one of his most popular novels, has been chosen for the 2009 great reading campaign.
Not a detective story this time but an adventure novel, more or less evoking Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864) .
The novel is centered round the irascible and very colourful Professor George Edward Challenger who leads an expedition to a plateau in the Amazon basin of South America, where prehistoric animals are supposed to have survived.
The character of Professor Challenger reappears in other Conan Doyle’s stories : The Land of Mist (1926), The Poisoned Belt (1913), When the World Screamed (1928) The Disintegration Machine (1929).
The Lost World has been turned into a film several times and has inspired contemporary authors and film directors as well. Let us think to the American author Michael Crichton whose book Jurassic Park was adapted in 1993 by Steven Spielberg.
But let us focus on what happens in Edinburgh, not only because it’s Conan Doyle’s native town but also because Edinburgh is called “the city of books”.
In 2004, Edinburgh won the title of the “1st UNESCO City of Literature” and since then it has launched three great reading campaigns in the city, under the motto of “One Book One Edinburgh”.
The three books successively chosen to be freely distributed everywhere in the town were Kidnapped, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and The Lost World”.
At least 35 000 copies of Conan Doyle’s book have been distributed in schools, libraries, bookshops and other public places, while many literary events had been scheduled to take place all over the year. I’m looking forward to the next reading campaign book choice !
By the way Janice, do you happen to have some stamps commemorating The Lost World?