"Lost Horizon" by James Hilton

Essay by WendalHigh School, 11th gradeA+, October 1995

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Lost Horizon is the story of four people who, while being evacuated from a war-torn city in Asia, were kidnaped and taken to a mystical and mysterious valley in the Tibetan mountains named Shangri-La. Shangri-La was a uncommonly strange place. It was isolated, it wasn't on any map and no one had heard of it before. Shangri-La was also unusually peaceful. Everyone was polite and moderate in everything they did so that there were no disputes amongst the inhabitants and thus, no need for police officers, courts, or jails. The aging process in Shangri-La was prolonged; most people lived well beyond one-hundred years. This was due to the lack of stress and anxiety in Shangri-La, and also due to a special herb that grew there.

The four people who were kidnapped, Hugh Conway, Charles Mallison, Roberta Brinklow, and Henry Barnard, were initially anxious to return to "civilization." But after spending a few days in Shangri-La, they had no problem when they were told that they wouldn't be able to leave for at least two months.

The only one out of the four who was angered by this was Mallison. He wanted to return to England as soon as possible and be rejoined with his family. He didn't believe anything that Chang, their guide and host at Shangri-La, said and was suspicious of him for not giving straight answers and being so serene. Conway, on the other hand, was the one who most enjoyed staying at Shangri-La, and was actually told by the ruler of the valley, the High Lama, that he was to inherit the position of High Lama. Conway and Mallison were excellent friends and thus, their differing opinions about Shangri-La created a dilemma for Conway. Not only did he have a dissension with Mallison but he was also...