At the borders of sleep : on liminal literature by Peter Schwenger

By Peter Schwenger

At the Borders of Sleep is a special exploration of the connections among literature and the liminal states among waking and sleeping—from falling asleep and waking up, to drowsiness and insomnia, to states within which drowsing and waking combine. Delving into philosophy in addition to literature, Peter Schwenger investigates the edge among waking and slumbering as an incredible and efficient nation among the compelled march of rational notion and the oblivion of unconsciousness.

While interpreting literary representations of some of the states among waking and drowsing, At the Borders of Sleep additionally analyzes how writers and readers alike draw on and input into those states. to take action Schwenger reads a variety of authors for whom the borders of sleep are the most important, together with Marcel Proust, Stephen King, Paul Valéry, Fernando Pessoa, Franz Kafka, Giorgio de Chirico, Virginia Woolf, Philippe Sollers, and Robert Irwin. contemplating drowsiness, insomnia, and waking up, he appears at such topics because the hypnagogic kingdom, the event of analyzing and why it truly is varied from complete cognizance, the relationships among insomnia and writing and why insomnia is usually a resource of inventive perception, and the patience of liminal components in waking idea. a last bankruptcy makes a speciality of literature that blurs dream and waking lifestyles, giving specific recognition to experimental writing.

Ultimately arguing that, happening at the edges of attention, either the examining and writing of literature are liminal reports, At the Borders of Sleep indicates new how one can take into consideration the character of literature and consciousness.

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On the other hand, every literary narrative flickers at its edges with unpredictable associations. Any page of a novel is a threshold zone, whose words simultaneously partake of the waking and the dreaming worlds. Alvarez’s suggestion that hypnagogia poses a fundamental challenge to literature should itself 22 . . Toward Sleep be challenged: for some version of hypnagogic play is involved in any literary experience. the obbligato effect Sometimes the link to hypnagogia can become explicit. At the opening of Italo Svevo’s Confessions of Zeno, for instance, Zeno describes himself writing the pages that will follow, and is pulled up short by an odd intrusion: while writing, I dimly see certain strange images that have no connection with my past; an engine puffing up a steep incline dragging endless coaches.

So genetic critics themselves admit that they can go only so far in capturing the fleeting associations that precede any text, while never making it to its surface, or even that of its earliest drafts. ” This venerable method employs, all too often, a kind of connect-the-dots approach: individual instances found in the text are joined with others until, if you are lucky, they emerge as a symbol, conscious and intended by the author. What is not fully conscious and textually realized— the true avant-texte, as genetic critics refer to it—is lost.

In this, Woolf anticipates Nathalie Sarraute’s later pursuit of those subtle inner movements that she calls tropisms, her lifelong preoccupation and subject matter. ” (77). Only as the essay unfolds does it become apparent that the sentence is ironic, the ventriloquized voice of a contemporary prejudice against the moderns. Sarraute, while hardly arguing for a return to a modernist aesthetics, sees in work such as Woolf’s the foundation of her own. For, she says, the reader of the modern novel was not long in perceiving what is hidden beneath the interior monologue: an immense profusion of sensations, images, sentiments, memories, impulses, little larval actions that no inner language can convey, that jostle one another on the threshold of consciousness.

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