Lost: The Third Policeman and The Turn of the Screw

In tonight’s Lost episode, Orientation, two books are not-so-prominently featured within the hatch: The Turn of the Screw and The Third Policeman.

Here are brief Wikipedia descriptions of both:

The Turn of the Screw:

The reader is challenged to determine if the protagonist, a nameless governess, is reliably reporting events or instead is some kind of neurotic with an overheated imagination. To further muddy the waters, her written account of the experience — a frame tale — is being read many years later at a Christmas house party by someone who claims to have known her.

The Third Policeman:

The unnamed narrator of The Third Policeman is a student of a scientist/philosopher named de Selby, and, as is revealed in the opening paragraph of the novel, has committed a robbery and a violent murder. The narrator seeks a black box belonging to his victim, believing it to contain money which he will use to finance the writing and publication of the definitive critical work on de Selby. The ostensible setting is an Irish country parish, the features of which become increasingly unfamiliar and out of proportion through the course of the novel. The narrator finds a police barracks, hoping to enlist the policemen into locating the black box for him. There he meets two of the three policemen, who speak in a curious mélange of spoonerisms, solecisms, and malapropisms; and there he is introduced to various peculiar or irrational concepts, artifacts, and locations, including a contraption that collects sound and converts it to light, a vast underground chamber called ‘Eternity,’ an intricate carved chest containing an infinite series of identical but smaller chests, and a theory of the transfer of atoms between a man and his bicycle

I find it instructive that both novels feature unnamed narrators and are both fantastical in nature. Part ghost story or thriller, part science fiction and mystery. All elements of Lost.

In the first we have a potential love affair from beyond the grave and in the second we have discussions about the nature of reality.

Also, the character de Selby in The Third Policeman has a theory about black air – as Wikipedia describes:

(he believes the phenomenon of nighttime to be explainable as an accretion of ‘black air’)

The author Robert Anton Wilson changed this theory to one of “teratological molecules, which are said to cause stunting of growth and are banished by electric light” [Wikipedia again]

Could this ‘black air’ or ‘teratological molecules’ be the dark, smoky mist that abducted Locke at the end of the first season?

So many questions, but I would venture a guess that reading these books might shed some light on Lost.

Anybody else making an Amazon purchase or a late-night run to the library.

[Via TV Squad and Collin vs. Blog]

UPDATE: Don’t forget, I’m selling Dharma Initiative T-shirts

4 thoughts on “Lost: The Third Policeman and The Turn of the Screw

  1. A_Kircher says:

    Outside of those books directly, I would highly recommend reading Eco’s “Faucault’s Pendulum” for a whole lotta background and / or parallels — Illuminati (Dharma Initiative as front for), magnetic thing-a-ma-jigs (ditto Island), origins & experiments in occult sciences (um, ditto Island and Dharma), etc. Not to mention the whole post-modern theme of everthing fits a pattern, but there is no larger pattern (‘cept what is in the eye of the beholder).

    Good read, nonetheless. Great read, in fact.

  2. A_Kircher,

    I’ve read Eco’s “The Name of The Rose” and I’ve started “Focault’s Pendulum” but never finished.

    Time to start again.

  3. A lot of Lost also reminds me of House of Leaves. There is an unnamed force in the book likened to a monster and shadows that never appears and kills people, sometimes leaves claw marks, but that is it. The house seems to make passages and changes dimensions based on who is in it. There’s a lot more but its late and I’m sure others have read it.

  4. Sysiphus says:

    Well maybe we should also take into account The Tempest – later made into Forbidden Planet, recall the ID creature – invisable force acting on the inhabitants, but powered by themselves……

    As for de selby, remember that in the third policeman there was the underground complex….

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