A “Lost-themed” Book Recommendation

I have spent the last month or so completely immersed in finishing my book manuscript for Literary Lost. Now that I’m done I can post here on a regular basis again, returning with book recommendations and the occasional commentary on the final season.

A Recommendation: The Island of Dr. Moreau

Though I don’t cover it much in my book, this brief H.G. Wells novel is a new favorite of mine. For “Lost readers” wading waist-high in book titles, I would recommend this one as a priority read. With its central plot revolving around a mad scientist and his frankensteinian drive to create  life, it doesn’t readily lend itself to a comparison to the show (besides the fact that it is set on a strange, uncharted island). But one passage that strikes me as relevant reflects a broader theme of the human condition in the confines of civilization and social life. The following line recalls the frequent description of Lost‘s island as a “microcosm of life”:

“A strange persuasion came upon me that…I had here before me the whole balance of human nature in miniature form, the whole interplay of instinct, reason and fate in its simplest form” (149).

The creatures that Dr. Moreau “humanizes” are destined for a crueler fate than brute animal life; they are bound to an existence in which they must “stumble in the shackles of humanity.” Moreau is the god of these creatures, but even he is subject to the limitations of animal life. As the castaway narrator eventually concludes, “A blind fate, a vast pitiless mechanism, seemed to cut and shape the fabric of existence” (150).

In a way, this is also Lost‘s conclusion. Though the central characters are redeemed in a spiritual sense, most of them suffer greatly as a result of their own physical fragility and the calculated forces of other human beings. They face brutal deaths as they are hunted down not only by the Smoke Monster, but by one another. Naomi, Sayid, Daniel,Jack, Charles Widmore, Dogen, Charlie–these characters “stumbling in the shackles of humanity” find their doom in the “pitiless mechanism” of both the violence of the wilderness and the cruelty of human nature.

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