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Courier Article by Kate Linderman
Sunday, Februrary 22, 2009

TV's 'Lost' Has Allusions That Will Spur Literary Initiative

I'm a "Lostie." I love the television series "Lost." I've watched it since it debuted in 2004. The flashbacks and flash-forwards, plot twists - the weirdness of it all - have hooked from the beginning.

The plot encompasses this seemingly senseless amalgam of literary, biblical, philosophical and scientific references that make me dig into the recesses of my mind to retrieve the texts I read so mechanically and mindlessly in high school and college.

The references "Lost" makes to so many of these classics make me want to revisit them. To date, according to, some 70 books have been referenced on the show or by the show's creators in some way. Here are a few I have revisited in an effort to make sense of the show.

"A Brief History of Time" is Stephen Hawking's landmark 1988 book that introduces complex scientific principles such as the origin and fate of the universe, the concepts of space and time, and the existence of black holes and wormholes in language easily understood. In 1996, Hawking published "The Illustrated Brief History of Time" ... same book, with helpful illustrations.

"William Golding's Lord of the Flies" is a classic tale of societal struggle as depicted by a group of teenage boys marooned on a remote island after a plane crash. The struggle between order and chaos is one that resonates with "Lost"; there are several other parallels between the book and the show.

"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass" by Lewis Carroll is the classic story of a young girl who falls down a rabbit hole and experiences myriad adventures in a world outside her own. It can't be real - or can it? Carroll's books have a duality that allows them to be read as children's books and as social criticism.

"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is a well-known short story by Hoosier writer Ambrose Bierce. The story centers on a Confederate sympathizer pondering his imminent execution at the hands of Union soldiers. At the time it was written, its premise was not so shocking - but the story, especially its conclusion, was.

"A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle is a Newberry Award-winning book about three children who go in search of a scientist (two of the children's father) who goes missing while working on a secret government project involving time travel.

"Our Mutual Friend" is one of Charles Dickens' lesser-known novels, and, frankly, one I had not read until "Lost." It is a story of wealth, inheritance, murder, blackmail and true love. The book has played a central role in several "Lost" episodes, so one can't help but think that its plot must have some tie-in with the show.

If you just want to be able to put two and two together about "Lost," or if you are just getting started watching it, check out some of the library's books about the show, such as "Unlocking the Meaning of Lost" by Lynette Porter and David Lavery; "Finding Lost: The Unofficial Guide" by Nikki Stafford; or "Living Lost: Why We're All Stuck on the Island" by J. Wood.

The library also has copies of "Bad Twin" by Gary Troup, a novel (one of the many books the character Sawyer has been shown reading, a recurring theme) by a fictional author who "perished" on Oceanic Flight 815.