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They Found Atlantis

Posted: Sun 7 Jan, 2007 18:50:52
by Stevie P
This was my first reading of the first book in the 'Lost World' series.
The other two being, Uncharted Seas and The Man who missed the War.

The book is based on an expedition led by Herr Doktor Herman Tisch to find and if possible recover some of the remains and treasures of the lost city of Atlantis, which was (according to this book) located in the mid Atlantic.
Atlantis had supposedly been destroyed by a cataclysmic disaster unparalleled in the history of the world.
The case for the actual existence of Atlantis before the disaster rests principally on certain passages in Plato's, criteritias and Timoeus' which was based in 450BC.
The capital of Atlantis was a mighty city beneath a great mountain in the northern part of the island. (This point becomes more relevant as you get to the end of the book)

In addition to Dr Tisch the expedition party consisted of six other intrepid explorers
(4 male and 2 female).
One of the females being Camilla Hart; The ex Duchess da Solento Ragina.

Page 10 - Arrow. Her ex husband; The Duke used to beat the duchess with his braces. (A familiar pastime in DW books it seems)
It continues;
'Camilla doesn't seem to have had any bones broken and lots of girls enjoy a playful hiding sometimes?? Just picture the little dark Duke chasing her around the room to give her a leathering.
Page 53 - I've often thought that Camilla wanted her bottom smacking but I'll give it to her that she's a darn brave kid!!!!!

On with the story!

With Camilla's financial backing the expedition goes ahead with the aid of a Bathysphere with fused quartz for windows. The Bathysphere trials go well and they prepare for the first proper dive.

Then come the baddies!!

A group of gunmen seize their boat and 'Oxford Kate' (the male leader) informs them of his plan to become Camilla's heir after her 'accidental death' during one of the expedition dives.
The Navy intervene following some clever work by Captain Andy Mackay (one of the four male explorers) and the threat to Camilla's millions is removed.

Subsequently however, the group find themselves nearly 6,000 feet under the Atlantic!!

"The blue beam from the Doktors torch focused on a pothole, penetrated the inky blackness no more than a foot, but into it there swam a new snake-like creature from above. Dead black, no more than 3 inches thick, and seemingly endless, it passed through the beam in graceful looping curves.
The Mackay stared at it with sudden horror. He knew that it was no living thing but the cable coiling down from above as it sank in great festoons about them. It had snapped, and they were trapped here, 900 fathoms down, where no human hand could ever bring them aid."

I won't give away anymore of the story suffice it to say that the group do eventually find their way into Atlantis.

Whilst on a trip in St Jacut de la mer in Normandy, DW met a delightful character,
Captain Magee, who he later portrayed as Captain Mackay.

They Found Atlantis was regarded by Dennis Wheatley as one of the best novels he had ever written. (The memoirs of Dennis Wheatley 'Drink and Ink').
Ralph Strauss praised it highly in the Sunday Times and 'Torquemada' gave DW the title of 'Public Thriller writer no. 1' in the Observer.

In July 1933, DW joined the PEN club predominately for the benefit of Writers (well known or otherwise).
HG Wells happened to be the Chairman at the time.

Then a coincidence struck me.
'The Fish people' that DW introduces into 'They Found Atlantis' reminded me very much of 'The Morlocks' which HGW used in 'The Time Machine'. (i.e. a lesser breed of being that were blind and survived on instincts).

I enjoyed this book. In fact I felt that it could have been quite an epic (almost worthy of a TV series) but it didn't go far enough unfortunately. It was reminiscent of many of DW's books that have a very comprehensive build up and a very rapid finish.
Perhaps the publishers were pushing him to get another best seller out.

Having said all this, TFA is certainly worth a read if you haven't already done so.

Posted: Mon 23 Jul, 2007 17:45:02
by Toohey
Just wonderful, a really enjoyable book. It really steps up a gear for me though when they find Atlantis. Reminded me of Haggard or Verne. Especially the ending which was similair to King Solomans mines, when they manage to escape but can't ever find a way back. I'll be sure to try those two other lost world novels your mentioned.

Posted: Mon 23 Jul, 2007 18:54:53
by Stevie P
Good thinking Toohey, I hadn't thought of the Jules Verne or H. Rider Haggard similarities but now you mention it.....
DW was prone to borrowing ideas and embellishing them in his own inimitable way i.e. The Fabulous valley had various ideas borowed from John Cowper powys.

Posted: Mon 23 Jul, 2007 19:52:59
by Garry Holmes
If you can find a copy, you might also be interested in a book by Conan Doyle called the Maracot Deep. I don't know whether he ever read it or not, but they have some points in common.

Posted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 18:15:44
by Stevie P
DW was a big fan of Conan Doyle's writing.
He read most of CD's books and particularly loved The Professor Challenger series and Brigadier Gerard (is this where Roger Brook was conceived as an idea? - along with Dumas, of course)
Apparently, when writing historical fiction it was Conan Doyle he used to turn to.

I haven't read Maracot deep but will look it up. Is this a historical novel?

Posted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 23:05:56
by Jim
<< I haven't read Maracot Deep but will look it up. Is this a historical novel? >>

It was contemporary on its publication, but of course it's historical now because the science would be so dated. The papers on which the novel is supposedly based are dated 1926, the year before the book was published. Like the Wheatley, it concerns the discovery of the lost city of Atlantis. I should read it myself--I don't think I have!

Posted: Thu 25 Jun, 2009 16:59:17
by Steve Whatley
The 'gentleman criminal' character Oxford Kate, who features in the first half of the book, is reminiscent of one or more of Dornford Yates' villains.

I recently re-read They Found Atlantis, and found it something of a novel of two halves; the criminals & rich idlers scenario of the first half, and the subterranean 'lost world' adventure of the second half.

The outrageous idea of a part of the Atlantean civilisation surviving underground is carried off with utter conviction; DW seems to have thought out every last detail in order to make it thoroughly plausible.

This is not the only example of DW being unafraid of producing an ending which was not entirely happy for all of the heroes. To my mind, this story is just crying out for a sequel, with the various characters joining Count Axel in his search to find the entrance to the tunnel. (The fact that they can't remember the location is for me perhaps the weakest point in the tale.)

As the book was dedicated to William Beebe, the inventor of the bathysphere, one wonders whether DW ever met him. I can recall no mention of him in the memoirs - can anyone else shed any light on (or hazard a guess as to) whether the two may have met?

Posted: Thu 22 Oct, 2009 21:36:13
by Garry Holmes
I really enjoyed this book, although the way that it was structured surprised me. It began like something resembling an Astaire/Rogers muscial comedy, turned into a thriller, and finally ended up as a fantasy novel. In retrospect, my favourite bit is the whole thriller segment on the boat, with the least interesting bit being the idyllic time spent in Atlantis (Utopia is always boring!) Actually, I felt that the whole fantasy segment could have been removed without damaging the whole (which is a weird thing to say about a fantasy novel! :rofl )

Posted: Fri 3 Mar, 2017 20:54:49
by Cibator
I've just been re-reading this book in the Heron edition, and there seems to be an error in the text. On p268, Menes is explaining about the much-disliked obligation to work in the mines:

"You can well imagine how loathed and dreaded this twice yearly period of duty in the mines became to our people - for none was exempted - not even the sons of the inherited as does always the eldest male here."

The bit in italics makes no sense as it stands. Obviously there's a chunk of text missing that's supposed to come just before the word "inherited". And every on-line edition I've been able to find contains the same mistake.

Would anyone on the Forum happen to have access to a correct version, and be able to post it here?

Posted: Sat 4 Mar, 2017 15:46:24
by Charles
I would if I could but I can't :D

I've just consulted a copy of the original first edition published in January 1936.

The passage is on page 278 there, and is identical to what you quote from the Heron edition.

I guess I'll have to consult the manuscript :D !

Best as always !

Posted: Sat 4 Mar, 2017 21:49:32
by Cibator
Thanks, Charles. Sounds like it never was correct, then! (Although I've a nagging memory of seeing what would have been the proper version somewhere, many years ago.) The overall sense is clear enough of course, but it would have been nice to know how Menes made the jump from mining duties to the inheritance of names.

Posted: Sat 4 Mar, 2017 22:21:16
by Charles
I like that sort of challenge ... sorry I wasn't able to come up with a better answer ... at least yet !

If you find the missing bits let me know ... or maybe you should have a go at reconstructing them - ?

All best !

Posted: Sun 5 Mar, 2017 15:38:49
by Darren
This is a fun puzzle. I wonder how much is missing.

It's a long shot, but another possibility is the Daily Mail serialization of They Found Atlantis from 8 January - 4 March, 1936. I have no plans to visit the British Library in the near future, but I will watch this thread with interest and if it's not resolved by the time I next go to London I'll call in and check.

Posted: Sun 5 Mar, 2017 23:27:32
by Charles
Clever solution - it deserves to succeed !

Posted: Wed 8 Mar, 2017 04:02:51
by Jim
It will surprise no-one that the Lymington edition has the exact same paragraph.