The Crimson Bookshelf
"LOST HORIZON," by James Hilton. William Morrow & Co. New York. 277 pages. $2.50.
JAMES HILTON is rapidly establishing a place for himself in the forefront of English novelists. Two of his latest works, "Good-by Mr. Chips," and "Lost Horizon" are national best-sellers, the latter having been awarded the Hawthornden Prize for the current year.
"Lost Horizon" is a distinctive and original novel, in which are blended, with peculiarly happy results, fantasy, allegory, whimsicality, and a pathos that is neither mawkish nor morbid. To tell the story of "Lost Horizon" would be wellnigh impossible, and extremely injudicious, for Hilton's telling leaves nothing to be desired. His characters are vivid, notably Conway, a youngish Englishman, whose exceptional talents the war effectively prevented from materializing.
Hilton has a gift for sustaining his reader's interest. Technically, his work is that of an older and accomplished writer. Throughout all his novels there is a note of sadness, a sense of the futility of man's struggle against forces beyond his control.
If there is one factor in Hilton's novels which justifies the belief that he gives promise of writing great faction, it is that he penetrates the level of superficiality that restricts so many modern writers. In "Lost Horizon," for example, through the eyes of the central character, Conway, one is brought into contact with the issues that underlie present-day life. But there is no preachment, no propaganda, nothing that to, so to speak, foreign to Conway himself. Now such writing has the elements of permanence. Hilton's style is faultless in its case and smoothness, easily adaptable to the motif of his novels. Thus, in whatever he has to date published, there is a compactness, a unity, and an appeal that makes a lasting impression on the reader. James Hilton is decidedly a man to watch and "Lost Horizon" decidedly a book to read.