Magdolna Gucsa
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Dreaming and collecting dreams in occupied France
Emil Szittya’s Illustrated Collection of 82 Dreams
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Recently rediscovered and republished in 2019 in France, 82 Rêves pendant la guerre entre 1939–1945 (82 Dreams during the war 1939–1945) represents French-Hungarian writer and painter Emil Szittya’s attempt to provide an answer to the question of what it means to dream in wartime. In 82 Dreams, Szittya not only included dream narratives he collected amongst people of all age, men and women, French citizens and refugees, Resistance members and Nazi officers, but also included some of his own paintings. The heterogeneity of Szittya’s text is further reinforced by his inseparable roles as author, editor, and his position as a Jew and a foreigner forced to flee Occupied Paris. On the one hand, Szittya does not aspire to interpret dreams (unlike Charlotte Beradt), or at least not through a psychoanalytical framework. On the other, his painted illustrations may be considered as attempts to visually translate the symbolic language of dreams (described by Reinhart Koselleck, among others). If the kind of knowledge generated by the intersecting textual and visual dimensions of Szittya’s work is as difficult to define as the specific genre of the ‘dream during war/occupation’, this chapter demonstrates how text and painting both rely on the peculiar power of dreams to document complex entanglements of private experience and historical events.

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