Dream vision  

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Adspectus Incauti Dispendium (1601), woodblock title page from the Veridicus Christianus.
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Adspectus Incauti Dispendium (1601), woodblock title page from the Veridicus Christianus.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A dream vision is a literary genre, literary device or literary convention in which the narrator falls asleep and dreams. In the dream there is usually a guide, who imparts knowledge (often about religion or love) that the dreamer could not have learned otherwise. After waking, the narrator usually resolves to share this knowledge with other people.

The dream-vision convention was widely used in European literature from late Latin times until the fifteenth century. If the dream vision includes a guide that is a speaking inanimate object, then it employs the trope of prosopopoeia.

Dream visions have often been employed as frame stories, where the narrator claims to have gone to sleep, dreamed the events of the story, and then awoken to tell the tale. In medieval Europe, this was a common device, used to indicate that the events included are fictional; Geoffrey Chaucer used it in The Book of the Duchess and Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy exemplifies the conventions of dream-vision literature, though Dante specifically says that his Comedy is not a dream vision. In modern usage, it is sometimes used in works of fantasy as a means toward suspension of disbelief about the marvels depicted in the story. J.R.R. Tolkien, in his essay "On Fairy Stories" complained of such devices as unwillingness to treat the genre seriously. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland includes such a frame, but unlike most usages, the story itself uses dream-like logic and sequences; most dream frames frame stories that appear exactly as if occurring in real life.

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Authors and works

Latin

French

Italian

  • Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy - exemplifies the conventions of dream-vision literature, though Dante specifically says that his Comedy is not a dream vision.

Old English

Middle English

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Dream vision" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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