Lost vs. Victorian literature

posted by Jason Kottke Apr 27, 2009

Plot-wise, Little Dorrit is just as ridiculous as Lost, frozen donkey wheel and all. Discuss.

Reader comments

jkottkeApr 27, 2009 at 2:34PM

And not just Little Dorrit. In Pride and Prejudice, most of the book would not have happened if two or three of the main characters would have sat down early on for a two-minute chat. This is the same technique used in Lost to keep the story moving along.

ErikApr 27, 2009 at 2:53PM

For sure. Who would ever believe that a highly respected man would swindle a large number of people of enormous sums of money using a massive ponzi scheme? Ridiculous!

JeffApr 27, 2009 at 3:02PM

Dickens is famous for convoluted plots. In "Bleak House" he got himself into such a twist he needed to have Krook spontaneously combust to get him out of the way.

TylerApr 27, 2009 at 3:17PM

You know, you love to rail on LOST, but you know it's the best thing ever. Come on, admit it.

AJ KandyApr 27, 2009 at 3:18PM

And of course one of the characters on Lost was Naomi Dorrit, not coincidentally. Naomi Dorrit at Lostpedia

jkottkeApr 27, 2009 at 3:29PM

AJ, you just blew my mind.

Miss JessApr 27, 2009 at 3:44PM

I agree with Jeff. When Bleak House hit that plot twist, I just about lost it. I mean... spontaneous human combustion? Really?

megnutApr 27, 2009 at 4:21PM

Of course the reason so many nineteenth century novels are so long and convoluted is because the novels were serialized and the writers paid by the word. They were rewarded for stretching out their stories for as long as possible. I guess that's pretty much the same as a network having a hit show on their hands and stretching out the ad dollars for as many seasons as possible through whatever plot manipulations they can conjure up.

In defense of the Victorians though, I might point out that in Little Dorrit the United Kingdom doesn't just disappear! Of course I'm not totally caught up, so maybe that happened last night.

jessApr 27, 2009 at 4:45PM

satire is ridiculous?

djacobsApr 27, 2009 at 5:05PM

megnut: The island didn't just disappear, it *moved*, but you can't quite be sure.

Mau SandovalApr 27, 2009 at 5:10PM

It may be ridiculous, but so addictive it hurts not to watch it.


jfwlucyApr 27, 2009 at 10:51PM

I don't really see how Little Dorrit is anymore convoluted and full of coincidence as, say, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, the Mahabharata, or the plot of any soap opera. Lost, uh, lost me early on.

AJ KandyApr 28, 2009 at 1:24PM

megnut: you may enjoy Jasper Fforde's metafictional detective stories, then ;) http://jasperfforde.com/

LucyApr 28, 2009 at 3:12PM

I will continue to go along for the ride with the LOST plots, even though I think they're getting sillier and harder to follow, but I think the show's true strength lies in its characters. What other shows out there have so many distinctive, weird, infuriating, unique, flat-out wonderful characters? When LOST is gone, I will undoubtedly have trouble recalling specific plot points, but I will remember Hurley, Sawyer, Locke, Jack and yes Ben vividly, as if I knew them.

Unfortunately, I haven't read Little Dorrit or much else by Dickens, but I think the same claim can be made for his work. Characters that live on from his work: Oliver Twist, Fagin, Miss Havisham, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and Ebenezer Scrooge himself.

SmartAssApr 29, 2009 at 9:02AM

Late to the game but there is a URL generator: DickensURL.com, where you can turn something simple into something long and complicated and drawn out, like a Lost or Dickens plot line.


This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.