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Un'idea di vita.: Dreams in literature

Un'idea di vita.: Dreams in literature

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Dreams & Literature

Dreams are often the subject of novels and poetry.

They are key to a character’s deeper promptings, the means by which an author sets a tone or creates a theme underlying his or her fiction, or expresses an intangible poetic concept.

Frank Kafka

“When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin. He was lying on his back as hard as armor plate, and when he lifted his head a little, he saw his vaulted brown belly, sectioned by arch-shaped ribs, to whose dome the c...

Arthur Miller

“I dreamed I had a child, and even in the dream I saw it was my life, and it was an idiot, and I ran away. But it always crept on to my lap again, clutched at my clothes. Until I thought, if I could kiss it, whatever in it is my own, perhaps I could sleep. And I bent to its broken face, and i...

Tennessee Williams

“You said ‘They’re harmless dreamers and they’re loved by the people.’ ‘What,’ I asked you, ‘is harmless about a dreamer, and what’ I asked you, ‘is harmless about the love of the people? Revolution only needs good dreamers who remember their dreams.’

"Camino Real". Tennessee ...

Joseph Conrad

“A man that is born falls into a dream like a man who falls into the sea. If he tries to climb out into the air as inexperienced people endeavor to do, he drowns.”

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924), Lord Jim.

Ralph Ellison

“A beautiful girl once told me of a recurring nightmare in which she lay in the center of a large dark room and felt her face expand until it filled the whole room, becoming a formless mass while her eyes ran in bilious jelly up the chimney.”

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, 1952...

Lord Byron

Our life is two-fold: Sleep hath it’s own world /A boundary between the things misnamed / Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world / And a Wide realm of wild reality. / And dreams in their development have breath, / And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy; / They leave a weight upo...

Lord Byron (2)

------> Like Sybils of the future; they have power / the tyranny of pleasure and of pain; / They make us what we were not what they will, / And shake us with the vision that’s gone by, / The dread of vanish’d shadows Are they so? / Is not the past all shadow? — What are they? / Creations of t...

James Joyce

“I’ll dreamt that I’ll dweath mid warblers’ walls when throstles and choughs to my sigh hiehied”.

James Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake, 1939

John Hardee

“While hollering and breathing so long so deep / Memory came on and dove down to my sleep / Dreaming this memory of space all around / Silence becomes breath becomes thought becomes sound.”

John Hardee, 1997

Robert Louis Stevenson

“Many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese toasted, mostly.”

Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, 1883.

John Updike

“A morning later, Nancy described her first dream, the first remembered dream of her life. She and Judy Thorne were on a screened porch, catching ladybugs. Judy caught one with one spot on its back and showed it to Nancy. Nancy caught one with two spots and showed it to Judy. Then Judy caught...

John Updike (2)

-----> Piet was moved, beholding his daughter launched intoanother dimension of life. Like school. He was touched by her tiny stock of imagery the screened porch (neither they nor the Thornes had one; who?), the ladybugs (with turtles the most toylike of creatures), the mysterious power of nu...

Lewis Carroll

“Hold your tongue!’ said the Queen, turning purple. ‘I won’t!’ said Alice. ‘Off with her head!’ the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved. ‘Who cares for you?’ said Alice (she had grown to her full size by this time). ‘You’re nothing but a pack of cards!’ At this the whole pack ...

Lewis Carroll (2)

-----> lying on the bank, with her head in the lap of her sister, who was gently brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the trees upon her face. ‘Wake up, Alice dear!’ said her sister. ‘Why, what a long sleep you’ve had!’ So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ra...

Daphne Du Maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge-keeper, and had no answer, and peerin...

----->Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me. The drive wound away in front of me, twisting and turning as it had always done, but as I advanced I was aware that a change had come upon it; it was nar...

----->Nature had come into her own again, and, little by little, in her stealthy, insidious way, had encroached upon the drive with long, tenacious fingers. The woods, always a menace even in the past, had triumphed in the end. They crowded, dark and uncontrolled, to the orders of the drive. ...

------> And there were other trees as well, trees that I did not recognize, squat oaks and tortured elms that straggled cheek by jowl with the beeches, and had thrust themselves out of the quiet earth, along with monster shrubs and plants, none of which I remembered surely the miles had multi...

-----> I came upon it suddenly There was Manderley secretive and silent as it had always been, the grey stone shining in the moonlight of my dream, the mullioned windows reflecting the green lawns and the terrace. Time could not wreck the perfect symmetry of those walls nor the site itself, a...

Shakespeare

“To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub: For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, When we have shuffled off this mortal coil”

Shakespeare, Hamlet

Fyodor Dostoevsky

‘I sometimes dream of devils. It’s night, I’m in my room, and suddenly there are devils everywhere. In all the corners and under the table, and they open doors, and behind the doors there are crowds of them, and they all want to come in and seize me. And they are already coming near and takin...

------>And then I’m suddenly overcome by a desire to begin cursing God in a loud voice, and I begin cursing him and they all rush at me again in a crowd, they’re so pleased, and they’re again about to lay hands on me and I cross myself again and they draw back at once. It’s great fun. Oh, it ...

Joseph Heller

“Captain Flume slept like a log most nights and merely DREAMED he was awake. So convincing were these dreams of lying awake that he awoke from them each morning in complete exhaustion and fell right back to sleep.”

Joseph Heller, Catch-22, 1961.

George Orwell

“Winston had woken up with his eyes full of tears. Julia rolled sleepily against him, murmuring something that might have been “What’s the matter?” “I dreamt–” he began, and stopped short. It was too complex to be put into words. There was the dream itself, and there was a memory connected wi...

-----> It was a vast, luminous dream in which his whole life seemed to stretch out before him like a landscape on a summer evening after rain. It had all occured inside the glass paperweight, but the surface of the glass was the dome of the sky, and inside the dome everything was flooded with...

W.B. Yeats

“All dreams of the soul/End in a beautiful man’s or woman’s body.”

W.B. Yeats, The Phases of the Moon, 1919.

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