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A few weeks ago my Intro to Lit. students read Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky,” a poem from Through the Looking-Glass. Very few—about four—of them had encountered it before, nor had they read the Alice books, although a few vaguely recalled having seen the Disney cartoon. One was looking forward to the Tim Burton-directed film (which is also from Disney—go figure). I was not completely joking when I told them a person could be prepared to analyze almost any work of English or American literature, television or film if he had read:

  • The Bible
  • Homer and Vergil and/or Greek/Roman mythology
  • Malory’s Morte D’Arthur / Arthurian legends
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • The Wizard of Oz (in this case, the 1939 movie will also work pretty well)

And to reinforce my contention, last week’s episode of LOST, “Lighthouse,” is a festival of rabbits, looking-glasses, and mirror-worlds, as deciphered by TV critic DocJensen:

If all we did with the Alice citation in ”Lighthouse” was note occasions when Lost previously name-checked or evoked Lewis Carroll’s two Alice novels, we could pride ourselves on being careful watchers of the show. Look at us being careful! Our English teachers are beaming! (Or they are dead.) But consider again the scene in ”Lighthouse” in which Jack picked up The Annotated Alice. ”I used to read this to you when you were little,” Jack said, waxing nostalgic. ”You always wanted to hear about Kitty and Snowdrop, they were Alice’s…” But Jack never finished his sentence because his angry adolescent huffed out on him. This was a really conspicuous choice, and I remember thinking that I should really follow up on it and investigate what Lost had decided to leave unsaid. When I finally got around to that research this past weekend (and by ”research,” I meaning loitering for 45 minutes at the display of various Alice In Wonderland books at my local Barnes and Noble, timed to capitalize on the release of the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie), I made one of those great discoveries that electrifies my Doc Jensen theory-making brain.

There’s a lot more.

Is this the only way to “read” LOST? Of course not, but it’s in there. And for those who have no interest in trying to find their way off the Lost Island, Alice in Wonderland is still a worthwhile read, even if only because (apologies for the pop psychology), “It’s never to late to have a happy childhood.”

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