The Ultimate Unauthorized Resource to the Stories Behind Lost
Lost is a complex and mysterious tale, one that draws on many sources for its themes and ideas—sources you must understand to become an advanced Lost expert. Lost's Buried Treasures is the ultimate unauthorized guide to the ideas that have influenced the show and its writers—and is completely updated through Season Five.
Books and movies important to the show and how they are connected
New and old theories
Musical references and the meaning behind the incredible soundtrack
The best online resources
The video and role-playing games and what they've revealed
Cast, writer, and director biographies
And much more
NO TRUE LOST FAN SHOULD EVER WATCH AN EPISODE WITHOUT THIS CRUCIAL GUIDE IN HAND. Explore all the interconnected stories and mysterious references that make the show so fascinating.
DISCLAIMER: This book is an independent work of commentary, criticism, and scholarship. Neither this book, nor its author and publisher, are authorized, endorsed or sponsored by, or affiliated in any way with the copyright and trademark owner of Lost and/or the creators of Lost.
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About the Author
David Lavery is the author of nine books, including studies of Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Hillary Robson is an academic advisor at Middle Tennessee State University.
Read an Excerpt
Excerpt from Chapter One
Is There an (Ancestor) Text on This Island?
Even before the library in the Swan Hatch, entered for the first time in "Man of Science, Man of Faith" (2.1, the initial episode of Season Two), and that Bible Mr. Eko finds in the Arrow Hatch, the one the Tailies stumble upon in "…and Found" (2.5) made Mystery Island more bookish, tomes were common enough on Lost—not as common as miniature liquor bottles, but not exactly rare either.
Throughout Season One, we find the unlikely avid reader Sawyer page-turning a variety of books, from Richard Adams' Watership Down (a book he rereads in "Left Behind," 3.15) to Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. In Season Two, he continues to read from his word horde: Judy Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret and Walker Percy's Lancelot. In The Swan even more books have screen time: James' The Turn of the Screw, Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," and, most notoriously, O'Brien's The Third Policeman, an obscure Irish novel that became a surprise bestseller due to its unintentional product placement cameo. And speaking of product placement, in "The Long Con" we find Hurley reading the manuscript of Bad Twin, a Lost tie-in novel written by the late Oceanic 815 passenger Gary Troup, later released by Hyperion, the publisher of official Lost books. Season Three continued to be bookish. The opening scene of the first episode ("A Tale of Two Cities," 3.1) shows a book club—the assigned book Stephen King's Carrie. Later, in "Every Man for Himself" (3.4), Ben evokes Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men in his humbling of Sawyer, and in "Not in Portland" (3.7), Aldo is seen reading Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. In Seasons Four and Five the books kept appearing: Philip K. Dick's VALIS and Casares' The Invention of Morel in "Eggtown" (4.4); Joyce's Ulysses in "316" (5.6); Castaneda's A Separate Reality in "He's Our You" (5.10); and Flannery O'Connor's Everything That Rises Must Converge in "The Incident" (5.17).
To paraphrase a question literary critic Stanley Fish once famously asked in the title of a book: "Is there a text on this island?" Many, many texts is the answer. On the official website a Lost book club has been established, and though it's not likely to rival Oprah in sales, it is impressive nonetheless. Astonishingly, given that Lost is the story of the aftermath of a plane crash, not a single John Grisham novel has been found.
Not all the "texts" are literary, of course. Cinema ancestors—disaster films, Cast Away, Jurassic Park—and television series—The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gilligan's Island, Survivor, The Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks, The X-Files—have all influenced Lost's themes, its mise-en-scéne, its characterization, its narrative style. The postmodern, as Umberto Eco has noted, is the age of the "already said." Books, films, and television have all had their say on Lost.
Each time a new Lost text opens for perusal, the fans go wild and speculation runs rampant as the Lost-fixated begin to read, backward and forward, an extraordinarily complex, still unfolding, still entangling narrative. The threads of a text, a "kind of halfway house between past and future," the critic Wolfgang Iser would write, always exist in "a state of suspended validity" (370), and such threads are particularly well-suited for today's avidly conjecturing, anxious to conspire "fan-scholar."
"Quality" television series, according to Robert Thompson's authoritative delineation, are "literary and writer-based" (15), and most readily, proudly acknowledge their ancestors and their influences. When Twin Peaks' Black Lodge turned out to be in Glastonbury Grove and Windom Earle and Leo Johnson cozied up in their Verdant Bower, the Arthurian legends and Spenser's Faerie Queene were born again in a new medium. When Tony Soprano sobbed uncontrollably at the ministrations of Tom Powers' loving mother in Public Enemy (as seen on TV), televised and filmic mobsters became brothers in the same gang—and genre.
Books, film, music, television, as well as other manifestations of both low and high culture—to borrow the witty formulation of film scholar Robert Stam—are governed by the same principle as sexually transmitted diseases. To have sex with another is to have had sex with all of his or her other sexual partners, and every "text"—every new novel or short story, song, or movie, or television series—is far from innocent; each potentially carries the "contagion" of every other text it and its creators have "slept with."
Lost is highly promiscuous, sleeping around with a wide variety of textual "partners." We divide these partners, one form of buried treasures, into three sections: Books in the Narrative considers texts that have actually put in a physical appearance on Lost. Ancestor Texts2 offers accounts of Lost's literary predecessors. Must See TV and Movies provides a guide to the series' film and television predecessors.
Books in the Narrative
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret—When caught reading Judy Blume's novel Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret ("The Whole Truth," 2.16), Sawyer downplays his interest in the preteen drama by calling it "predictable" and with "not nearly enough sex." (Though Sawyer belittles the book for its lack of sex, Margaret is, according to the American Library Association, among the top 100 frequently challenged books in libraries because of its frank treatment of sexuality and religion. Needless to say, it is certainly more than a simple, preteen drama.)
With its focus on the title character's experiences with menstruation and buying her first bra, Margaret is often referred to as the quintessential teen novel, but it is just as much about struggling with spiritual development. Margaret grows up with a mixed religious heritage—one Christian and one Jewish parent—and the novel follows her efforts to come to grips with her own beliefs. Menstruation and training bras aside, it is a story of religious quest.
Lost often delves into the importance of faith, of good vs. evil, of scientific vs. spiritual. Like Margaret, the Losties have trouble deciding if they buy into spiritual mumbo jumbo, and, like Margaret, they receive many mixed messages about faith—at once bringing people back from the dead and pitilessly killing off members of the group.
Table of Contents
A Note About Documentation
Chapter One: Lost Reading and Viewing
Is There an (Ancestor) Text on This Island?
Books in the Narrative: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret | Bad Twin | The Bible | Book of Law | A Brief History of Time | The Brothers Karamazov | Carrie | Catch-22 | Everything That Rises Must Converge | The Fountainhead | The Gunslinger | The Invention of Morel | Lancelot | Laughter in the Dark | "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" | Our Mutual Friend | A Separate Reality | The Third Policeman | The Turn of the Screw | Ulysses | VALIS | Watership Down | A Wrinkle in Time | Y: The Last Man
Ancestor Texts: Alice in Wonderland | "The Damned Thing" | Gilgamesh | The Little Prince | Lord of the Flies | Moby-Dick | The Mysterious Island | The Odyssey | Of Mice and Men |"A Psychological Shipwreck" | Robinson Crusoe | Solaris | The Stand | Stranger in a Strange Land | Walden Two
Must-See TV and Essential Movies: The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. | Alias | Back to the Future | Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly | Cast Away | Crossing Jordan | Disaster Movies| Fantasy Island | Forbidden Planet | Fringe | Gilligan's Island | Jurassic Park | Lost Horizon | Nash Bridges | The Prisoner | Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi | Survivor | To Kill a Mockingbird | The Twilight Zone | Twin Peaks | The Wizard of Oz | The X-Files
Chapter Two: Lost Playlist
The Musical Castaways | Choosing the Right Song for the Scene | Channeling the Dead | Making the Band | Geronimo Jackson | DriveShaft | DriveShaft's and Charlie's Real-World Popularity | The Genius of Michael Giacchino | Soundtracks for Seasons One–Four | The Significance of an Effective Soundtrack
Chapter Three: Between the Lines: Lost and Popular Culture
Why Is Popular Culture So Important? | The Hurley-Sawyer Connection | The Power of Popular Culture | Lost as Reflector and Creator of Popular Culture
Chapter Four: Waking the Dead
The Meaning of Death | Season Six: The Zombie Season | Jacob | Apparitions | Death Becomes Them | Prophetic Dreams and Visions | Those Who Seek the Dead | Special or Insane?
Chapter Five: The Significance of Place
Hometowns and Special Places | Common Destinations | Hawaii as a Character | Around Honolulu | The Art of Selecting Locations and Dressing Sets
Chapter Six: Lost Questions without Answers
Chapter Seven: Behind the Scenes
Lost Actors | Lost Writers | Lost Directors
Chapter Eight: Top Tens
Ten Books/Essays to Read about Lost | Top Ten Movies and Television Series for Lost Fans | Top Ten Lost Websites | Top Ten Lost Episodes: Keepers and Those to Throw Back
Lost Episode Guide
About the Authors