Free Study Guide for Lost Horizon by James Hilton|
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FREE ONLINE NOTES - LOST HORIZON BY JAMES HILTON
Ironically, he found himself right back at Chung-Kiang when the train broke down a mile or two farther on the track. He decided to take the Mother Superior up on her offer to visit her mission. They prepared a meal for him, and a young Chinese Christian doctor sat down with Rutherford. They also took him for a tour of the hospital. When they introduced him to the foreigner she had told him about, he was astonished to discover that the man was Conway. Unfortunately, Conway didn’t remember Rutherford, because he was suffering from amnesia. Rutherford decided to stay there for a few days to try to help Conway recover his memory. He was unsuccessful, but he did make arrangements to take Conway home.
Once they were on the Japanese liner, Rutherford spent the time telling Conway as much as he could about his life. At the port of Yokohama, a new passenger came on board. His name was Sieveking, and he was a concert pianist. He was prevailed upon to give a recital for the passengers with emphasis on Chopin, a musician Sieveking specialized in. After he got up to leave at the end of the recital, Conway sat down at the piano and began to play a rapid, lively piece which drew Sieveking back to the piano in excitement. Conway was unable to tell the pianist what he had been playing, only that he thought it was a Chopin study. Sieveking refused to believe that it was by Chopin, because he knew everything that Chopin had ever written, and he had never heard this piece. Conway then remembered that it had never been published, and that he only knew it himself from meeting a man who had been one of Chopin’s pupils. Many witnesses saw this exchange between the two men and heard Sieveking say that the piece was so important as to be a part of every virtuoso’s repertoire within six months if it were ever published. The two men promised to meet again and even made arrangements to make some phonograph records of the piece. Rutherford tells the narrator that he often thought it a pity that Conway was never able to keep his promise to Sieveking.
That night after the recital, Conway regained his memory. During the next twenty-four hours, Conway told Rutherford everything that had happened to him, and then they had drinks in Rutherford’s cabin about 10:00PM the night before they were expected to dock in Honolulu. Rutherford never saw Conway again, because he gave him the slip and joined a crew of a banana boat heading south to Fiji. Three months later, Rutherford received a letter from Conway thanking him for his care, paying him for any expenses Rutherford may have incurred, and telling him that he was about to set out on a long journey to the northwest. That was all he said.
The narrator is most confused about how Conway arrived at Chung-Kiang,
and how he lost his memory. Rutherford reveals that after Conway had told
his story over those twenty-four hours on the Japanese liner, he had written
it all down into a manuscript. He brings it out for the narrator and tells
him to read it and make of it whatever he will. The narrator asks if he’s
not supposed to believe it. Rutherford says that Tertullian’s phrase “quia
impossibile est” is not a bad argument. Later, Rutherford sends a short
note to the narrator saying he was off on his wanderings again would have
no settled address for some months. Not surprising to the narrator, Rutherford
is heading to Kashmir and then east. Perhaps he believes his own manuscript
more than he is willing to admit.
The prologue lays down the background to how the narrator comes across a manuscript which reveals something mysterious concerning Conway and later, Rutherford. There are many strange events connected to Conway: first, the plane that is stolen; second, the Chopin piano piece which no one has ever heard; third, the loss of Conway’s memory and its return after he plays the piano; and finally, Conway’s strange story and his stranger decision to catch a boat to Fiji and head northwest. All of these events are foreshadowing for the manuscript that the narrator is about to read.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Lost Horizon".
. 09 May 2017