I really need to account for Lovecraft’s treatment of dreams for this larger project about latter-day dream visions. Since there’s quite a lot of Lovecraft, in addition to looking at the particular Gaiman-introduced volume of Lovecraft’s dream stories, I’ve been asking around for recommendations.
In particular, for this project, I need texts that either
- follow a Waking – Dreaming – Waking structure explicitly, in which the main thrust of the story is in the Dreaming section, or
- somewhere in the course of the story hint at the idea that this might all have been a dream.
I was pretty confident that whatever stories settled out of my inquiries, they would be creepy. My job is to figure out how.
One such inquiry netted me
- Beyond the Wall of Sleep
- From Beyond
- The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath
It’s not entirely clear that these all fit my paradigm, but it’s a good place to start, anyhow.
So far I’ve spent some careful time reading “Polaris” and “Beyond the Wall of Sleep,” and they both fit, in their way, into my project.
In both of these stories, Lovecraft undermines the idea that waking is real and dreaming is fake by presenting a dreamland that is preferable to wakefulness and explicitly questioning which state is real. In “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” he even associates the dissonance with madness – the dreamer can’t endure being restrained by the waking world, and he ends up in an institution where the narrator, an intern, comes to experience a similar dream life.
In “Polaris” the dreamer dreams of his responsibility to defend a perfect nation and considers his wakeful life to be an abrogation of that responsibility.
These two stories also demonstrate the two poles of Lovecraft’s racism spectrum: He fears invasion and infiltration by outsiders, by foreigners, which is typical of his fear of miscegenation; but he also looks down on inbred hillfolk, so he fears the logical consequences of his xenophobia.
Next I need to reread “From Beyond” and “Dream Quest.” If I remember correctly, these are both stories in which figures from the Dreamlands influence the waking world?