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This 1977 novel by Walker Percy (The Moviegoer) is a bleak psychological investigation of a Southern gentleman gone toxic and mad from his wife’s betrayal, his own violence, and various other sad things — including, it seems, America itself. It was one of many books read by good ol’ boy Sawyer on the beach during his downtime from A-team missions in the jungle. It was also one of three books (along with Watership Down and A Wrinkle In Time) on Sawyer’s dresser in his Sideways world; many Lost fans have inferred their presence in Sawyer’s afterlife fantasy to mean that they held more significance to him and to Lost than any other novel seen in his hands. Lancelot speaks to Sawyer’s unresolved rage over the deaths of his parents. (Perhaps coincidentally, the novel was published the same year as their murder/suicide.) But its final pages — in which the demented dark knight threatens to impose his own brand of justice upon the world unless God reveals himself and intervenes — mirror Richard Alpert’s complaint to Jacob that by remaining silent and separate from his Island people, he allows the devilish Smokey to manipulate and darken their hearts.
June 27 2010 — 12:00 AM EDT
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