Dream in literature
in Hélène Cixous
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The phrase ‘dream in literature’ can be understood in three distinct but interrelated ways, as 1) the role and importance of dreams in literary works; 2) the impulse or compulsion to dream, to fall into reverie, to lose oneself in a dream or dreamlike state while reading a work of literature, the experience of becoming fascinated, immersed or set adrift in a book; and 3) where ‘dream’ is a speech act, an order, request, plea or desire: dream in literature as one might breathe in the night air, inhale a perfume or a strange gas. The chapter explores Cixous’s ‘writing by dream’ (as Derrida calls it), focusing in particular on the nature of the ‘I’ of the dreamer, and the relationship between ‘realisim’ and ‘telepathy’. It interweaves readings of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Ligeia’, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s ‘The Question’, Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, with readings of Cixous’s own writings (including Rootprints, Ayai! The Cry of Literature, Hyperdream, Abstracts and Brief Chronicles of the Time, and Death Shall Be Dethroned).

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