Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005587, Thu, 9 Nov 2000 17:15:16 -0800

Fw: Objects in dreams
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From: "Ben Dodds" <benjamin.dodds@durham.ac.uk>

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I'm interested in VN's observation that familiar objects can take on a
completely new form in dreams, yet remain instantly recognizable to the
dreamer. The following example is from 'The Gift'. Fyodor, having been
summoned by Berezovski whom he suspects has news about his father, bumps
into his mother and tells her that he is going to collect some hair

'Later I often dreamed about them, those non-existent clippers, which
took the most unexpected forms - mountains, landing stages, coffins,
hand organs - but I always knew with a dreamer's instinct that it was
clippers.' ('The Gift', 128)

A similar phenomenon was mentioned by Wordsworth in 'The Prelude'. The
narrator's friend (discussing, incidentally, the relationship between
life and art) describes a dream in which he met a Bedouin tribesman
carrying a stone and a shell.

'My friend continued, "strange as it may seem,
I wondered not, although I plainly saw
The one to be a stone, the other a shell;
Nor doubted once but that they both were books,' (Prel. V 110-3)

There are stirrings at the back of my memory of other instances of this
phenomenon in VN's work. Can anyone point them out to me?

Ben Dodds