Other elements that are present in this novel are symbols and metaphors. Symbols are the use of some unrelated idea to represent something else. Metaphors are direct comparisons made between characters and ideas. There are many symbols and metaphors used by the author such as:

1.) Karacal, the mountain, symbolizes the possibility of a perfect utopian society where the doom of the outside world can be forgotten.

2.) Mallinson and Conway are metaphors for the outside world and Shangri-La. One represents the frustration and the impetuous demands of youth while the other is a study in patience and complacency and even a desire to just find some peace in his life. These two contrasting characters will be the ultimate determiners of the outcome of this story and the lessons the reader will learn in the end: one being fear of the unknown and the other, the search for a meaningful life.

3.) The Valley of Blue Moon is a metaphor of a place that is prosperous and happy

4.) Shangri-La represents mystery and paradise.

5.) Shangri-La is also a metaphor. The valley doesn't offer just long life; it offers a life in which the lamas will learn how to be in such harmony with each other and the people of the valley that they will be able to withstand any outside evil that might eventually penetrate their little paradise. The four travelers have been brought here to help reinforce this idyllic haven and to prepare for whatever the future will bring from the outside world. It is the perfect way for Conway to fulfill his life and protect the heritage of the beauty of life.

6.) The idea of being monkeys in a cage is symbolic to Mallinson who fails to understand the promise and beauty of Shangri-La.

7.) Mallinson's loss after he left the lamasery and Lo-Tsen's return to old age is a metaphor for the loss any human being feels when he has chosen a foolish path.



James Hilton

Date Published
It was first published in 1933 with several later editions, the most recent being 2004. It was the very first book to be published in paperback form.

Meaning of the Title
Lost Horizon is a reference to a faraway paradise that can be obtained, but is usually lost by those who need it most.

Fantasy, Adventure Novel

The setting of the story is predominately in the countries of Afghanistan and Tibet with emphasis on the mysterious Valley of Blue Moon also known as Shangri-La. The Prologue takes place in Germany and the Epilogue takes place in Delhi, India. The year is 1930, but there are flashbacks to historical times as well.

The protagonist is Conway who finds what he has been searching for Shangri-La, but is unable to give up his sense of responsibility. In the end, he has disappeared once again in search of his heart's desire in the Valley of Blue Moon.

The antagonist is Mallinson whose desire to return to the outer world pulls at Conway and his desire to stay in Shangri-La. He sees the valley as evil and fights desperately to leave it. In the end, he is lost and the reader gets the feeling that he was a fool to turn his back on paradise.

The mood is at first mysterious and fantastical, but soon it becomes reflective of the doom with which the outside world threatens the peace and security of Shangri-La. Ultimately, it is hopeful and uplifting as the narrator, Rutherford, and the reader all root for Conway to find his way back to the Valley of Blue Moon.

Point of View
Sometimes it's first person, but most often it's third person.

It is told in the past tense, because it is a flashback.

Rising Action
The rising action begins when the narrator meets up with Rutherford in Berlin and is given a manuscript he had written, telling Conway's story in Shangri-La. Rutherford wanted the narrator to decide if what he reads is believable or not.

The story unfolds through the manuscript written down by Rutherford, the novelist, after he hears Conway's story of Shangri-La. It is an explanation of a worldly paradise whose purpose is to provide a haven for the world should it destroy itself. In the end, Conway is forced to leave long enough to remove the corrupting influence of Mallinson and Lo-Tsen and then disappear himself as he makes his way back to the Valley of Blue Moon.

The climax occurs when Perrault names Conway as the new High Lama and then dies.

Conway brings Mallinson and Lo-Tsen out of Shangri-La, but Mallinson never makes it to China, Lo-Tsen returns to her actual age and dies of a fever at a misson hospital, and Conway is momentarily afflicted with amnesia. After telling his story to Rutherford, he disappears in search of Shangri-La again.

Major Themes
The exhaustion of passions is the beginning of wisdom; a world on the brink of destruction; imagination; Providence; and the idea that it is certain if it is impossible.


Cite this page:

Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone".