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The Other Night

Dreaming, Writing, and Restlessness in Twentieth-Century Literature

Herschel Farbman

Publication Year: 2009

I sleep, but my heart wakes,says the Song of Songs. The other nightnames the sleepless night we spend in dreams.From The Interpretation of Dreams to Finnegans Wake, many of the great writing projects of the first half of the twentieth century articulate experiences of waking in the very depths of sleep, where no Ican declare itself present though the heart still beats. After World War II, in the cold light of the closure of the age of dreambooks, Beckett and Blanchot discover with new clarity, and new fatigue, that what wakes when the Isleeps doesn't sleep when the Iwakes.Revisiting Freud's argument that the dream is a form of writing, The Other Night looks at how life becomes literature in this wakefulness. Though we seem to be seeing things in our dreams, we are actually confronted with a kind of writing. This writing is not in our power, and yet it is ours. We are responsible for it in the same strange way that we are responsible for our lives.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Jack Cameron helped me begin to phrase my questions about dreaming and has inspired me with his example. Paul Fry’s insights into this project renewed my interest in it and have sustained my work on it. Carol Jacobs’ reading of my work has made it more real to me, and her support has allowed me to rethink and revise. Claudine Kahan, Giuseppe Mazzotta...

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Introduction: The Other Night

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pp. 1-22

Every night is two nights, according to Maurice Blanchot. The night the body spends in sleep is not the same as the night the dreamer spends in dreams. The sleeping body may lie under the stars, and the dreamer may dream of the stars—even of a journey to the stars—but the night of the dream is a night without stars. The dreamer may dream that it’s day, but...

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One: The Dream as Writing: Freud’s Theory

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pp. 23-47

Some dreams, like the dreams of prophets, may be dreamt to be told to others, but only the dreamer can perceive his or her dream. This defining characteristic of the experience of a dream has been cited both to dismiss dreams as meaningless and to grant them special authority. Freud’s first thesis in the Interpretation of Dreams is that dreams are meaningful and...

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Two: Dream and Writing in Blanchot

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pp. 48-68

In his critical works, Blanchot often speaks of an ‘‘experience’’: The Experience of Mallarmé or The Experience of Igitur, The Experience of Proust and The Experience of Lautréamont.1 This ‘‘experience’’ is neither the extra-textual experience of a subject placed at the origin of writing nor the experience of a written object conceived as the product of the work of such a subject...

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Three: Beckett’s Restlessness

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pp. 69-88

Writing is the center of the action in Beckett’s trilogy (Molloy; Malone Dies; and The Unnamable). The comic energy of Molloy’s account of his journey to see his mother is derived not from the slow unfolding and ultimate dissipation of the action of that journey in space but from the fits and starts of the unfolding of his writing in a strange present in which the...

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Four: Finnegans Wake

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pp. 89-108

The ‘‘quaqua on all sides’’ that Beckett’s speakers distantly hear in the mud and whisper back to the mud in which they hear it echoes a call that Finnegans Wake makes to its readers (and to the birds): ‘‘Quoiquoiquoiquoiquoiquoiquoiq!’’ 1
Joyce’s ‘‘Quoiquoiquoiq . . .’’ is the answer of Shem, Sham, Shames (James),2 a Stephen Dedalus–like figure for the writer in Finnegans Wake...

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Afterword: The Dream and Writing of Socrates

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pp. 109-118

Since the day of Socrates’ death, philosophy has been defined as a particular way of approaching death. Being philosophical has meant being philosophical about death. Waiting for sunset—the appointed hour of his death—Socrates discusses calmly what awaits him. No true philosopher, he says, should fear death, because philosophy pursues the separation of...


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pp. 119-138

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 139-148


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pp. 149-152

E-ISBN-13: 9780823248261
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823228652
Print-ISBN-10: 0823228657

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 801846658
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Other Night

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Subject Headings

  • Blanchot, Maurice -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Beckett, Samuel, -- 1906-1989 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Joyce, James, 1882-1941. Finnegans wake.
  • Dreams in literature.
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