Hilton, James: Lost Horizon
(researched by Kathleen Settle)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Lost Horizon James Hilton Hawthornden Prize Novel Grosset & Dunlap - Publishers New York By arrangement with William Morrow and Co.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first edition was published in a medium green, calico-texture cloth that is embossed. There was no dust jacket to go along with this book. Along the spine of the book, the title and the author's name have been stenciled in silver letters on the
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
137 leaves, pp. 1, 2, 3-24, 25, 26, 27-261, 262, 263-277
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
This novel was not introduced not was an editors name mentioned. The prologue directly follows the title page.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
This novel was not illustrated.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The general appearance of the book is good considering it is 65 years old. The outer covering of the
book is very plain with the exception of the silver lettering on the spine. The edges of the cloth cover are beginning to tear. I feel that the typography of the book is excellent. It is very easy to read. The letters of the words and the words thems
elves are spaced nicely. The layout of the page is top-centered. This layout leaves enough space at the bottom of the page to keep the reader from feeling overwhelmed by too much reading per page. The font used throughout the book appears to be Times N
ew Roman. This is a very readable font.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The paper of this book has held up nicely. The paper has a distinctly old appearance due to its light brown tint. The paper is very soft, yet sturdy. I have found few tears or holes in
the paper.
11 Description of binding(s)
The outer covering of the book consists of a board with a cloth cover. There is a paper hollow at the spine where the pages, which are book rounded and backed, are placed. The endpapers, with tapes and lining beneath them, have been pasted
down on to the insides of the boards. The pages have been stitched together, at the spine, using a thin thread.
12 Transcription of title page
At the top of the page, the title and author's name are in plain, bold, black, block lettering. Lost Horizon By James Hilton Slightly off center, towards the bottom: Hawthornden Prize Novel (smaller font, Italics) The publisher's name and city are located about five spaces under "HawthorndenÖ" The font is again smaller than the title. It is not printed in bold or Italics. A small, black dot is used to separate the publishers name, the word "publisher", and the
city name. Following by two spaces is: By arrangement with William Morrow and Co. (smaller font than "Hawthornden", Italics) The font appears to be Times New Roman.
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
No manuscript holdings could be found
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
The original publisher did not issue the book in more than one edition. However, shortly after the release of the first edition, September 1933, Lost Hori
zon was released on paperback. The publishers claimed that Lost Horizon was the first paperback ever published.The publisher was Ian Ballantine.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
A letter has been sent to the publishing company. This information is still bei
ng acquired.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
. The first edition, 1933, was published "by arrangement with William Morrow & Company. Amereon Ltd., 1976 Illustrated childrens version; Pendulum Press, Inc., September 1979 Buccaneer Books, 1983 Ulverscroft Large Print Books, Limited, 1984 Pocket Books, January 1988
6 Last date in print?
Lost Horizon is still in print as of 1993; according to the reference Books in Print, published by R.R. Bowker
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
As of 1975: Hardbound 3,714,210 Paperbound 2,867,000
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
This information is still waiting to be acquired from the publisher. There has been no reply as of 4/2/98.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
. Unable to locate any pictoral advertisements for the novel Lost Horizon. Interestingly, Lost Horizon has been advertised by it's publishe
rs as "children's fiction"; according to library catalog searches in Worldcat Bibliofind.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
. Lost Horizon was promoted in the New York Times Book Review by being listed in the "Autumn Upcomings" section in July of 1933.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
1937, Lost Horizon (movie)
by Frank Capra 1973, Lost Horizon (movie/musical) by Charles Jarrot Books On Tape, 1979
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Orizzonte Perduto (Italian) Pub. - Sellerio Editore, 1995
Iroborin Chip 'Yongson' (Korean) Pub. - Chongsin Segyesa, 1995
Horizontes Perdidos (Spain) Plaza and Janes, 1992
Poteriannyi Gorizont (Russia) Rimol, 1991
Zaginiony Horyzont (Polish) "Slask", 1988-89 Lost Horizon has also been translated into German.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A. In the New York Times Book Review section, "Autumn Upcomings", of September 1933, it was stated that the novel Lost Horizon was going to be released.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
Shangri - La Eleanor Cooney and Daniel Altieri William Morrow & Company, Inc. April 1996 This book is a sequel to Lost Horizon
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
James Hilton was born in Lancashire, England, in 1900. His father, a teacher, moved to London when Hilton was very young, so most of his education was in the London Public School system. In later years, Hilton a
ttended Christ's College, Cambridge, and graduated with honors, with degrees in history and English. Hilton began writing his first novel, Catherine Herself, when he was only seventeen, and it was published two years later. Between its appearance in 1920 and the appearance of Lost Horizon in 1933, he published seven other works, most of them only brief
ly noted by the critics before they faded from the literary scene. Hilton also worked as a journalist for the British Weekly. His novel, Lost Horizon, was not an instant success. The novel following Lost Horizon, Good Bye Mr. Chips (1934), was a great
success. Its success is what called attention to Lost Horizon, which became Hilton's all-time best seller. Lost Horizon was published by Grosset & Dunlop with arrangement by the William Morrow Company. In 1935, Hilton began writing for the movies and moved to Hollywood, California, where he spent the rest of his life. Hilton received an academy award for his work on the film Mrs. Miniver. In addition to movies, Hilton wrote magazine articles, book re
views, and more novels; such as the following: Time and Time again (?) Morning Journey (1951) Nothing So Strange (1947) So Well Remembered (1945) The Story of Dr. Wasseld (1943) Random Harvest (1941) And Now Goodbye (1942) We Are Not Alone (1937) Was It Murder? (1935) Without Armor (1934) Hilton was frequently on the radio, achieving a certain reputation as a brilliant storyteller. Hilton, lived a very quite life and died at the age of 54 in 1954 after a long illness. He died in California.
**Update: I added the dates of his novels and the place of his death. I also added some extra information that I found while researching for my critical essay. The tidbits were about his academy award for Mrs. Miniver and I discovered that he worked as
a journalist before writing Lost Horizon.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
I was only able to find one contemporary review of James Hilton's Lost Horizon.
James Hilton's Lost Horizon was released to the public during September of 1933. It was a bestseller of 1933. It later was made into a successful movie by Frank Capra in 1937. It can be inferred from Lost Horizon's success that it was well liked by
the general public. Therefore, it surprises me that the New York Times Book Review of Lost Horizon was luke warm at best. Throughout the review, one finds sentences such as:
"By means of a somewhat inept prologue...." "....the epilogue, which, as inadroit as the prologue..." "The characters in the book were too vaguely realized and their problems were too evasive to matter then or now."
For the most part, the review just gives a general summary of what the book was about. The reviewer seems to enjoy the imaginative picture and ideals of the book ("It is engagingly written for the most part....") but it seems that he/she does not believe
there is much more substance to the novel.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
I was only able to find one contemporary review of James Hilton's Lost Horizon.
James Hilton's Lost Horizon was released to the public during September of 1933. It was a bestseller of 1933. It later was made into a successful movie by Frank Capra in 1937. It can be inferred from Lost Horizon's success that it was well liked by
the general public. Therefore, it surprises me that the New York Times Book Review of Lost Horizon was luke warm at best. Throughout the review, one finds sentences such as:
"By means of a somewhat inept prologue...." "....the epilogue, which, as inadroit as the prologue..." "The characters in the book were too vaguely realized and their problems were too evasive to matter then or now."
For the most part, the review just gives a general summary of what the book was about. The reviewer seems to enjoy the imaginative picture and ideals of the book ("It is engagingly written for the most part....") but it seems that he/she does not believe
there is much more substance to the novel.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
James Hilton's, Lost Horizon, is a captivating tale of adventure and mystery which takes place in the legendary fantasy world of everlasting youth called Shangri-La. This utopian fantasy oversteps the boundarie
s of the reader's common conception of the world. Thus the reader must expand his/her mind and utilize his/her imagination in order to make Hilton's mystifying world believable. This aspect of fantasy has certainly contributed to the novels success. Lo
st Horizon presents its readers with an escape, it forces its reader to stretch the mind beyond the normal bounds of perception into utopian fantasy. In order to understand exactly why this sort of fantasy novel, and in particular this fantasy novel, has
become so popular, it is important to examine many things. One must first study the novel as a literary work, as well as the motivations that prompted the author to write the novel. Then one could look at the way in which the novel was received by the
public and by literary critics. Lastly, one may contrast this novel with other literary works of its time. Only after this extensive analysis is completed can a true understanding of this novel, its effects, and popularity be reached. Hilton's novel is a story within a story. The Prologue serves as a frame for the main story. Three, old Oxford schoolmates have met for dinner and find themselves discussing the hijacking of a plane that occurred in India several months ago. The four
passengers had never been heard from again. In addition, they reminisce about a fellow named Conway, an old schoolmate and passenger on the plane. It turns out that one of the men (Rutherford) believes that Conway is still alive. Rutherford found Conwa
y suffering from fatigue and amnesia in a mission hospital. Conway related (to Rutherford) the strange and almost unbelievable story concerning his disappearance many months before. Later, Conway regains his memory and narrates his fabulous experiences
at Shangri-La. Hilton creates a sense of reality by introducing his story as being one that has actually happened to someone that three people once knew. After hearing about Conway, we are later surprised to find out that he is still alive. This create
s further interest in learning about the mystery surrounding him and Shangri-La. Conway is among four kidnap victims, the others being Mallison, his young assistant who is anxious to get back to civilization, Barnard, a brash American, and Miss Brinklow, an evangelist. We learn that the mysterious hijacked plane crashes in the Himal
ayan mountains. However, the quartet is rescued and taken to the hidden lamasery of Shangri-La. One of the basic appeals of the novel is the appeal of being exposed to new, strange, and wondrous lands. Since the discovery of America in the late fifteen
th century, people have delighted in reading about strange lands, and there has also been a proliferation of such books, both real and fantasy, that would satisfy the reader's curiosity. The valley of Shangri-La is a peaceful place, taking from the worl
d around it, but remaining aloof from all the negative actions of that world. The new visitors are surprised to find that the monastery is endowed with central heating and plumbing of a very modern nature, fine food, and an extensive library. In the lib
rary, there are many rare books and a collection of hundreds of maps. Interestingly, Shangri-La is not marked on any of the maps. This fact raises the question if Shangri-La actually exists. Shangri-La is the exotic and mystical East of a Westerner's d
ream. It is a world were the air is pure, the people are happy and wise, and where time stands still. This brings us to the great mystery of Shangri-La. All who live there have the secret of eternal life but the catch is that none may ever leave. Hilt
on is stingy in letting out this secret, which helps build the tension in the novel. One can wonder what swayed James Hilton to write such a fantasy novel. He was born in England at the turn of the century. He attended Christ's College, Cambridge and graduated with degrees in history and English. Hilton grew up during the Great War (W
orld War I) and did the majority of his writing after the war was over. Lost Horizon was published in 1933. We learn that the main character Conway participated in the Great War and suffered deep psychological traumas from it. The memory of the Great W
ar is an unforgotten shadow in much writing of the 1930's. Novels published during the interwar decades assessed the Great War as a cultural debacle, as the dividing line between an age of stability and reason and one of chaos and irrationality- or worse
, of emptiness. Hilton foresaw another great war and mentions it as a vague prophecy in the book. Hilton speaks to the readers through the dialogue between the High Lama of Shangri-La and Conway. The High Lama believes that Man seems determined to de
stroy the world, and with it, destroy everything that is beautiful. In his vision, the High Lama foresees "a time when men, exultant in the technique of homicide, would rage so hotly over the world that every precious thing would be in danger, every book
and picture and harmony, every treasure garnered through two millenniums, the small, the delicate, the defenseless-all would be lost." The aim of Hilton's Shangri-La is to preserve the best that has been thought and composed in the world and to provide
a sanctuary for the loveliest of the creations of man and to also gather proper people as guardians over it all. "Here we shall stay with our books and our music and our meditations, conserving the frail elegancies of a dying age, and seeking such wisdom
as men will need when their passions are all spent." One can safely concluded that the Great War and the interwar decades had an influence on Hilton's writing of this novel. Lost Horizon was a great success in the 1930's and became Hilton's all-time best seller. The novel won the Hawthornden Prize in England, which is roughly equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize in America. It also was made into a successful movie several year
s after its release. One of the main factors in Lost Horizon's popularity is the time period in which it was released. The 1930's were arguably, a pervasively escapist age. Exotic travel and the books about exotic places were simply extensions of peopl
e's general wish to shut their eyes to social and political realities. Who could blame these people? The 1930's not only represent the interwar decade but they were the primary time of The Great Depression. The Great Depression was an economic slump
that hit North America, Europe, and other industrialized areas of the world. Mass unemployment and economic stagnation persisted until the outbreak of World War II in 1939. During such a time of hard luck, poverty, and hopelessness it is no wonder that
a utopian fantasy tale captivated that hearts of millions. A utopia can be defined as an ideal world in which one lives. Sir Thomas More's Utopia was familiar to Hilton and probably had an influence on his writing of Lost Horizon. Shangri-La is Hilton's utopia. At Shangri-La social or status distinctions can
not be made based on the type of housing or clothing of the people. There is no sense of personal wealth. The extension of the life span allows the various members of Shangri-La to pursue any subject that he/she so desires. The philosophy in Shangri-La
is that no religion is all right and that no religion is all wrong. Every religion is moderately true. In Shangri-La equality is attempted through the communal sharing of property and the elimination of money. Shangri-La can be considered equivalent w
ith a paradise on earth. Throughout the novel, the High Lama outlines the type of life that Conway will have at Shangri-La. Through this Hilton is able to touch the basic desires of many people of the world who have tired with the tedious ways of modern
living and the struggles of modern life. By prolonging the aging process at Shangri-La, Conway will have time to enjoy new friends, to follow the pursuits of the mind, time to study, read books, listen to music, and have time to enjoy solitude and conte
mplation. Everything that is normally done in a hurry in the Western world can be done at Shangri-La at a snails pace. A victim of The Depression could not enjoy these types of activities but he/she could read Lost Horizon and escape to a world where th
ey could. The population of the 1930's probably longed for the peace and quiet Shangri-La had to offer in order to pursue real interests. Furthermore, the most basic and the most appealing aspect of Shangri-La is its prolongation of the prime of one's l
ife. This aspect of the novel has charmed generations upon generations of readers. To be at your prime, vivacious and strong, for an extended amount of time is tantalizing to all; the period in which one has lived is irrelevant. All the aspects of Lost Horizon have contributed to it's profound appeal to it's audience. It has been reviewed in the following ways: "The enjoyment of fantasy is not a matter of belief but of acquiescence, and it is all to Mr. Hilton's credit that we
are quite willing to acquiesce..." "Mr. Hilton always writes well and with imagination; his characters are clearly drawn and revealed in constant dramatic movement; his dialogue is excellent." Lost Horizon's attraction can be seen in it's commercia
l success. It became the first novel to be published on paperback by Ian Ballantine. In was made into a motion picture in 1937 directed by the famous director Frank Capra (It Happened One Night, 1934; It's a Wonderful Life, 1946). It was also made int
o a musical in 1973 directed by Charles Jarrot. Lost Horizon has been translated into many languages including Spanish, Korean, and Italian. It has been published by several other renowned publishing companies including Amereon, Buccaneer, and Pendulum
Press, Inc. It has been formatted into an illustrated children's version and has been made into a book on tape. As of 1975, Lost Horizon had sold close to ten million copies and it was still in print as of 1993. The achievements of Lost Horizon and Hil
ton's subsequent novel, Good Bye Mr. Chips (also made into a popular motion picture), helped to further Hilton's career. In 1935 he was invited to Hollywood to participate in the filming of these enormously successful books and remained there for the res
t of his life writing for the film industry. He received an Academy Award in 1942 for his work on the film Mrs. Miniver. A number of his subsequent novels were adapted for the cinema. What is fascinating is the fact that many of the best-selling novels of the 1930's did not follow the same fantasy format as Hilton's Lost Horizon. Several of these novels portrayed candid realism of the life of and society surrounding their characters.
Such novels include The Good Earth ( Pearl Buck), Of Time and The River (Thomas Wolfe), and The Grapes of Wrath ( John Steinbeck). The Good Earth describes the cycle of birth, marriage, and death in a Chinese peasant family. The book is written realis
tically without any over attempts to awaken sympathy for any of the characters. Of Time and The River is Wolfe's second novel that describes the sights, smells, fears, and hope of the American people. He writes of life, of the pains, hungers, sorrows,
of the common people. The Grapes of Wrath is a powerful indictment of America's capitalistic economy and sharp criticism of the southwestern farmer for his imprudence in the care of his land. It is an occasionally sentimentalized description of the Ame
rican farmers of the Dust Bowl in the mid-thirties of the twentieth century. One can assume that the people enjoy escaping from the harsh realities of life by reading fantasy novels. However, it is possible that one finds comfort in being able to iden
tify with realistic plots and characters provided by novels of genre other than fantasy. The story of Shangri-La is a fairy tale. Hilton introduces the reader to a world where life moves slowly and is carefree. It is probable that the Great War and Hilton's fear of a second war had an influence on his writing of Lost Horizon. The novels su
ccess can be attributed to it's ability to transport it's readers to an ideal and happy world; qualities most likely sought after by people during the Great Depression. Hilton's achievement is demonstrated by his implantation of the catch-phrase, "Shang
ri-La", into the English language. Generations will associate Shangri-La with an imaginary place in which all the passion and yearnings of the world are quieted. In a decade where authors brought us stories of genuine people living in real life situatio
ns, Lost Horizon gave individuals an escape from reality where all worries could be cast aside. This type of genre has appealed to readers throughout time and continues to draw readers to the world of Shangri-La. ¨ 2185 words
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