Before we went to Tibet, I kept reading and reading about the place, and the more I read, the more I felt that there was something that I did not understand. Being too young to know the movie, I was only able to tell that all those guide-books made allusions to a myth, a secret or a dream shared by everyone but myself.
Those guide-books spoke in hushed voices about a place called “Shangri-La”, leaving me with the impression that I should long to be there. Where to find this place was less clear. I was relieved when I finally discovered that “Shangri-La” is a fictional place in James Hilton’s novel “Lost Horizon”.
The plot of the novel reads like a screenplay for a Hollywood movie. The main character, Conway, is “tall and extremely good-looking, and not only excelled at games but walked off with every conceivable kind of school-prize”. Everyone who ever met him remembers him well, yet no one is very close to him. Well, that’s a classic Hollywood hero, isn’t he?
At the age of 37, he, alongside with three other passengers of the same air-plane, is kidnapped. Instead of being killed or traded for a ransom, they are taken to an enormously beautiful and magical valley at the border of the Himalayan range, ruled by a lamasery and “the most isolated spot I ever set eyes on. A separate culture might flourish here without contamination from the outside world”. The story is about how they slowly discover all about the nature of the paradise they have been brought to, and how some of them still want to escape.
James Hilton’s novel is an entertaining read that has very little do with the real Tibet. Instead, it will teach you all about the perception of Tibet in the West and about all the dreams and expectations connected to this country.
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This article was published on perelincolors.com