Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A shelf elf throws The Dream of H.G.Wells at me

Just before I sat down to write this morning a shelf elf flung H.G.Wells’ novel The Dream at me from the top of a tall bookcase holding fiction in the room where I do much of my horizontal meditation. Of course I had to interrupt what I thought I was doing and explore the themes I had just been given. In the last pages on Wells' novel I read:
    "It was a life," said Sarnac, "and it was a dream, a dream within this life; and this life too is a dream. Dreams within dreams, dreams containing dreams, until we come at last, maybe, to the Dreamer of dreams, the Being who is all beings."
     In the novel a man living 2000 years in the future falls asleep in a ruined city and dreams he is in the body and life of a man in London in the early 20th century. The dream is presented as an entirely real experience of another life.
     Another character in the novel reports a dream of a shorter, wilder life experienced in a very different body.
    "I dreamed the other day that I was a panther that haunted a village of huts in which lived naked children and some very toothsome dogs. And how I was hunted for three years and shot at five times before I was killed. I can remember how I killed an old woman gathering sticks and hid part of her body under a tree to finish it on the morrow. It was a very vivid dream. And as I dreamed it by no means horrible. But it was not a clear and continuous dream like yours. A panther's mind is not clear and continuous, but passes from flashes of interest to interludes of apathy and utter forgetfulness."
    The theme that personal evolution involves relations between past, present and future personalities - alternate and other selves - was of consuming interest to Wells, though many of his readers have missed this aspect of his work. After The Dream, he wrote Christina Alberta's Father, a novel in which a man of modest circumstances thinks he is simultaneously, across time, King Sargon of Akkad.
    The framing device of the dream was used repeatedly by Wells (see A Dream of Armageddon). He also makes us aware that a dream of this kind is more than a literary device; it is a portal to real experiences in other times and other worlds. I have heard that Wells himself dreamed of life as Sargon, who gets a glowing report in his Outline of History.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I love shelf elfs. This post is very intriguing. These kinds of dreams are not my own experience - at least that come back with me once I wake up. I'm open to it though. The rest of my life is quite interested in the messages that come in all ordinary life scenes. And they do.