Diane Otosaka
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Dreams, justice and spectrality in Rêver peutêtre (Perchance to Dream) by Jean-Claude Grumberg
in Dreams and atrocity
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In Jean-Claude Grumberg’s 1998 play Rêver peut-être (Perchance to Dream), an actor rehearsing Hamlet suddenly faces accusations of murder, but not any murder, one he allegedly committed in his dreams. When questioned by a judge, the protagonist Gérard B. is unable to recall the name of his alleged victim. As a result, he faces a Kafkaesque trial in which his dreams are scrutinised to determine his humanity/inhumanity. Drawing on the notion of ‘souvenir-fantôme’ or ‘phantom-memory’ developed by French philosopher Henry Bergson, which refers to a type of buried memory only available in dreams, this chapter investigates the links between dreams, memory, history and spectrality. In Bergson’s philosophical model of the dream, the dream is associated with a widening of perception, allowing what remains otherwise hidden in waking life to become visible. Such a model proves highly pertinent for elucidating the dynamics at play in Rêver peut-être: as I demonstrate, it is in his dreams that Gérard is able to perceive what he had so far refused to see in waking life, namely that the spectral presence haunting his dreams is his father who was deported when he was an infant in Vichy France. Banished from waking life by concentrationary forces, the spectres, or unmourned victims of atrocities, find refuge in the oneiric realm. The act of dreaming thus ultimately becomes a subversive, rebellious act alluding to the tension between law and the kind of justice that is demanded by the spectre.

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Dreams and atrocity

The oneiric in representations of trauma


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