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Dream, Imagination and Reality in Literature


The Keynote Lecturer


Martin Procházka

Between Hoax and Ideology: Theory and Illusions of Imagination in Chapter XIII of Coleridge´s ´Biographia Literaria´

In the introduction to the thirteenth chapter of Biographia Literaria Coleridge indicates that his philosophical approach is different from traditional metaphysics. It outlines a dialectical "history to the mind from its birth to its maturity." Instead of subordinating the multiplicity of worlds to a unitary system of representation, Coleridge attempts to explain this multiplicity by means of speculative genealogy, which shows Schelling´s influence.

This genealogy may now be understood in terms of Deleuze´s philosophy of "the sensible," transcending conventional understanding of aesthetic experience. Rather than empirical objects, individual beings and things seem to be the "effects" (Deleuzean concept) of unconsciously operating forces. According to Deleuze, these effects can be interpreted as signs, which are not "a sensible being, nor even a purely qualitative being (aistheton), but the being of the sensible (aistheteon)." This "being of the sensible" poses the question of its own limits as "an immanent Idea or differential field beyond the norms of common sense and recognition."

This problematic basis of Coleridge´s concept of imagination, is evident in the central part of Chapter 13, which surprisingly does not have a form of a philosophical text. It is a literary hoax, a letter from an invented friend or reader, who advises Coleridge to delete from his book the chapter on imagination, and recommends to Coleridge printing only his theses.

In Coleridge´s hoax, the signs of an unwritten philosophical treatise, which should deduce the unity of imagination from the unity of the Absolute Idea, become, to use Deleuze´s phrase, "the signs of art." As a result, Coleridge´s hoax does not have to be intepreted as a mere trick, performed in order to avoid the philosophical elaboration of the notion of imagination. Rather, it is a liberating gesture, giving art a position above philosophy, and a different dimension to the preceding metaphysical reflexions and the following definition of imagination. This gesture is also an "involuntary sign" (Deleuze), which forces us to seek a deeper meaning of imagination.


Prof. Dr. Martin Procházka, CSc. Professor of English, American and Comparative Literature is the Head of the Department of English and American Studies at Charles University, Faculty of Philosophy & Arts, Prague, Czech Republic. He is also President of the Czech Association for the Study of English (CZASE), a board member of ESSE. His main fields of research include English and American Romanticism, comparative literature and contemporary literary theory. He is the author of Romantismus a osobnost (Romanticism and Personality, 1996), a critical study of English Romantic aesthetics, Coleridge and Byron, and a co-author (with Zdeněk Hrbara) of Romantismus a romantismy (Romanticism and Romanticisms, 2005), a comparative study on the chief discourses in the West European, American and Czech Romanticism. With Zdeněk Stříbrný he edited Slovník spisovatelů: Anglie... (An Encyclopaedia of Writers: England..., 1996, 2003). He has published two textbooks: Literary Theory (1995,1997) and Lectures on American Literature (2002), the latter jointly with Hana Ulmanová, Justin Quinn and Eric Roraback. Among his other publications there are numerous book chapters and articles on Shakespeare, Romanticism and Poststructuralism, a translation of Byron´s Manfred and M.H. Abrams´s The Mirror and the Lamp into Czech (1991, 2001). He is the founding editor of an international academic journal Litteraria Pragensia and a member of editorial boards of four international academic journals. He was a Visiting Professor at the universities of Bristol and Bowling Green (Ohio), Visiting Lecturer at the University of Heidelberg (Germany), Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of Adelaide and Visiting Scholar at the University of California at Berkeley.


Dancer Andrea
Ernest Thompson Seton and the Canadian Wilderness Imaginary: From Literary Space to a Place of Belonging
Ernest Thompson Seton infused the imaginations worldwide with his writings about realistic animals in their habitats, the Canadian prairie wilderness, and the Aboriginal peoples who served as the model for his International "Woodcraft Indian" clubs. His stories created a uniquely Canadian genre and are the source for many generations of peoples internationally to re-create a sense of belonging to the land. In my presentation, I examine Seton's literary impact in Europe during and since his lifetime (1860-1946) using the theoretical models of Heidigger (dwelling), de Certeau (practice of everyday life), and Henri Lefebvre (space and place) to ask how it is that literature can re-constitute a sense of place (Derrida's unexperienced experience) in people's imagination in experiential ways -- specifically as resistance to dominant state mechanisms such as communism, capitalism and globalization that disconnect peoples from each other and their lands.

Djorić-Francuski Biljana
How Many Dreams Are There in 'Bruno's Dream'?
Iris Murdoch is famed for her numerous novels, full of symbols entwining the improbable and fantastic elements of her characters' imagined world with the real facts of their actual life. In Bruno's Dream, the central symbol appears already in the title of the novel and it then permeates the entire narrative becoming the symbol of reality, imagination and finally death for the main hero. The paper follows the dreams of all the protagonists, some of which come true while others remain in the land of the imaginary.

Dupuy Coralline
Mentorial Dreams in S. F. Said's Fiction for Children
The proposed paper examines the use of dreams as a literary device in S. F. Said's 2003 novel for young adults, Varjak Paw. The coming of age plot of the novel relies on the insertion of dream episodes in which the mentor of the storyline, Jalal, teaches his disciple Varjak how to survive and how to become his own person. The paper analyses the psychological dimension of these episodes, in which one can find the Jungian themes of individuation and personal development.

Dvořák Petr
The Picture of Children in the Novels and Short Stories by Graham Greene
"For writers it is always said that first twenty years of life contain the whole of experience - the rest is observation - but I think it is true of us all." Graham Greene was aware of the fact that a person's character is shaped from his early childhood. One's childhood determines the whole personality and moral attitudes. That is why the failure or moral decline of Greene's characters has its roots in their unsatisfactory or sometimes even horrifying childhood. My paper attempts to show how the experience of childhood corresponds with the tension between dream and reality in the novels and short stories by Graham Greene.

Fonioková Zuzana
The Orphan's Dream Come True: Representation of Reality in Kazuo Ishiguro's 'When We Were Orphans'
This paper deals with the ways reality is presented in Kazuo Ishiguro's novel When We Were Orphans. The novel can be divided into two parts, according to the representation of reality. The novel's reality as it is presented in the first part corresponds to the reality of the reader's own world. In this part, the main character and narrator Banks acts as a conventional unreliable narrator, deceiving himself in order to avoid realizing unacceptable aspects of his situation as an orphan, yet the scenic presentation mostly remains reliable. In the second part, a gap opens between the reality presented and the reality of the reader's world. The fictional world of the novel adjusts to Banks's self-deceived mind and his wishes, dreams and products of imagination become the reality. I argue that Banks lives in a kind of 'surreality' which connects the realm of dreams with that of reality. In this way, When We Were Orphans challenges the reader's conception of reality and of its possibilities.

Gangopadhyay Gargi
Make-belief and Disbelief: Operations of Fantasy in Fairy Tales and Nonsense
A distinguishing mark of the fantastic in literature is the creation of a secondary, imaginary world situated outside the borders of the real, and hence, any fantasy, is created and situated vis-à-vis the real. It is through the many varying relationships that fantasy can have with reality in a text, that we further have several types of fantasies in literature. The paper concentrates on two sub-genres of Fantasy, namely Fairy-tale and Nonsense, to investigate two different versions of the un-real and to illustrate the different strategies employed in the creation and sustenance of the fantasy worlds in both.

Ghasemi Parvin
Reflections of Self and Other in Sylvia Plath's "MIRROR"
Sylvia Plath's recurrent employment of images of "mirror," "moon," and "candles" indicates the denotative significance which she invests in the imagery and symbolism concerned with self-reflection. Essentially, Plath's use of reflective objects and images exhibits her persona's search for self-recognition. "Mirror" symbolizes the troubled self of the woman, especially the woman artist who has to reject the given masks imposed on her by the patriarchal society and see herself as an artist and an individual, While experiencing a conflict between rejection or acceptance of "self" and "other's" definition of identity and autonomous perception, the woman artist endeavours to achieve self-engendering by refuting the objectified identity imposed on her by the male culture. The mirror images in Plath's poetry, therefore, signify the consciousness of the woman-speaker who verbalizes the creative process of a woman artist in the domain of the male-dominated literature.

Heczková Jana
"(Un)Dreamable Dreams:" On the Function of Dream in the Novels by Toni Morrison and Alice Walker
The primary focus of the presentation is a comparison and contrast of the employment of the idea of dream in the works of two Afro-American writers. Dream is perceived as a wide term encompassing a variety of states of human mind in which the subject is not fully in possession of its consciousness and its self. Apart from dreams experienced while asleep, this concept also includes a range of situations which deviate from normal life experience, such as flashbacks, visions and waking dreams. One of the discussed functions of dream in the novels concerns the fact that eventually the above mentioned dream modes create a communication channel through which the characters' lived experiences in particular and their pasts in general reach the present and communicate with it.

Chalupský Petr
The Real and Imaginary City in the Works of Martin Amis and Ian McEwan
The presentation will deal with the image of the city in selected novels of two prominent contemporary British writers - Martin Amis and Ian McEwan. The focus will be on how the city is presented as well as its role in the novels' narrative structure, with respect to the tensions between its realistic and imaginative aspects.

Kamenická Renata
Dreaming the Original: Original and Translation as Two Different Fictional Worlds
The presentation explores the possibilities of using theory of fictional worlds as developed by Lubomír Doležel in anchoring empirical research in literary translation (namely research of explicitation as one of the potential translation universals) to literary theory. It attempts to test the usefulness of looking at the original and target texts as texts constituting two possible worlds. The text used for analysis will be novel The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers and its Czech translation.

Koy Christopher
Signifying on Scots: Chesnutt's Parodies of Sir Walter Scott
Mark Twain's famous sentence from Life on the Mississippi about Sir Walter Scott and the Civil War introduces this paper: "Sir Walter had so large a hand in making Southern character, as it existed before the war, that he is in great measure responsible for the war." In this contribution I wish to show how Charles Chesnutt's fiction elaborates on that claim by parodying the received cultural identification white Southerners assumed about Scotland generally, and about the plots and romantic notions of Sir Walter Scott's fiction specifically. The explicit and implicit illusions to Scott's most popular historical romance among Southern whites, Ivanhoe, will be examined in Chesnutt's early novel, The House behind the Cedars in light of H.L.Gates's theory of African American rhetoric.

Kušnír Jaroslav
Reality, Imagination and Possible Worlds in American Postmodern Fiction
Literature based on mimetic principle, especially different kinds of realism, imply both rationality and clear, understandable and direct connection between the actual, physical world and its linguistic representation. This understanding of relationship between physical reality and a literary (artistic) work has been undermined by various literary genres and forms of literature (fairy tales, fantasy, sci-fiction, postmodern literature) in order to present an alternative vision of the world and undermine, to a certain degree, a dominant literary discourse in particular period. It seems it is especially postmodern literature that both undermines this belief in clear and direct relationship between the physical world and the language depicting it. Quite recently, especially philosophical theories of the possible worlds and their application in literary theory have tried to explain this relationship. Analyzing the narrative techniques of some postmodern shorts stories by select American postmodern authors (Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover, David Foster Wallace, for example), I will try to point out the way postmodern fiction and theories of possible worlds (Hrushovski, Doležel, Ronen) generates the aestethetic principles creating various levels or reality and their function in a postmodern literary work.

Lišková Libuše
Naughty Lewis Carroll
'Naughty' does not refer to Carroll's friendships with young girls and photographing them but to his writing - more specifically, to the poems recited by Alice or other characters in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. These playful and witty paraphrases of moral or didactic poems, well-known to Victorian readers, demonstrate not only Carroll's sense of humour but also how unconventional and rebellious he was. This talk will compare his poems with the original versions that inspired them, and both will be discussed in the light of attitudes to children and their education in British society around the middle of the 19th century.

Mánek Bohuslav
Dreams of the Great Past in English and Czech Romantic Poetry
The paper discusses the dreams of the great past, i.e., the reflections of distinguished historical events and personalities, in Czech translations of English Romantic poetry, in particular Thomas Moore and Lord Byron, in the context of Czech Romanticism in the 1830s through 1850s. It also includes a comparison between the translations and the original writings of Czech poets and translators, in particular K. H. Mácha and E. B. Kaizl.

Pérez Valverde Cristina
Dreams and Liminality in the Mary Poppins Books
Mary Poppins is one of the most outstanding characters in the field of children's literature. It largely owes its popularity to the 1964 Disney film, with Julie Andrews in the title role. But there is much more to Pamela Travers' collection of books than the charming nature and appeal of this magical nanny. In this paper I shall explore the use of symbolism and esoteric knowledge in Mary Poppins (1934) and its five sequels, namely Mary Poppins Comes Back (1935), Mary Poppins Opens the Door (1943), Mary Poppins in the Park (1962), Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane (1982) and Mary Poppins and the House Next Door (1988). The texts are fraught with mythical elements and magical allusions, as a result of Travers' studies on myth and folklore, as well as her interest on different traditions and systems of thought, such us theosophy, Hinduism and Neoplatonism. The magical events usually take place while the children are sleeping, and Mary tries to convince them that the extraordinary adventures never happened in real life. Thus, the sphere of dreams functions as a liminal space in which the barriers between reality and the supernatural become diffuse.

Podroužková Lucie
Imagining Shakespeare: Facts and Fiction in "Shakespeare in Love"
Despite his centrality in the English literary canon, William Shakespeare's life and work remains, in many aspects, an enigma. The paper will attempt to analyze issues of creative imagination versus reality in the film script for "Shakespeare in Love", co-written by Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman.

Prajznerová Kateřina
Dreams of Homecoming in the Appalachian Novels of Harriette Arnow and Barbara Kingsolver
Harriette Arnow and Barbara Kingsolver represent two generations of Kentucky writers much of whose fiction grows out of the landscape and culture of their native Southern Appalachia. This paper examines the dreams of homecoming that are at the heart of Arnow's Hunter's Horn (1949) and The Dollmaker (1954) as well as Kinsolver's The Bean Trees (1988) and Prodigal Summer (2001). While the protagonists of these novels experience multiple forms of geographical and psychological displacement, their lives are permeated by an underlying desire to rediscover their roots and reclaim their birthright. Analyzing this theme from an ecocritical perspective shows that it is the characters' memory of a particular type of place, resurfacing most often in they dreams, that helps them find the way that eventually leads them home.

Skopečková Eva
Encounters With Otherness in E.M. Forster's A Room With a View and D. H. Lawrence's The Lost Girl
In my contribution, I would like to present the results of my PhDr thesis (Supervisor: Doc. Grmelova, Pedf UK). In my dissertation, I am examining the encounters with otherness in E.M. Forster's A Room With a View and D. H. Lawrence's The Lost Girl. Primarily, I am focusing on the development of the main protagonists, which is influenced by such a sudden encounter. I am also discussing the particular views of the two writers concerning this issue, since the conception of otherness appears in various forms in both works reflecting their author's approaches and experiences.

Sukdolová Alice
The "Heterotopia" of Landscape in the Victorian Novel
Foucault's term heterotopia generally refers to the relationship between the illusion and "real" components of space which he mentions in his treatise "Of Other Spaces". To trace these "Other Spaces" in Victorian novel, I would encounter Victorian values and confront them with Romantic illusions of some outstanding characters (Heathcliff, Jane Eyre etc.).

Škanderová Ivona
'Present fears are less than horrible imaginings: 'Imagination and Reality in Shakespeare's Macbeth
The objective of the presentation is a systematic examination of the dimensions of reality and imagination in the interpretations of Shakespeare's Macbeth performed in Pilsen. Budil's production [1903] was partly influenced by Ermete Zacconi, and partly by Josef Jiří Kolár's romantic acting style. Hofbauer's Macbeth [1949] was a fascist usurper and Václav Špidla [1963] brought a new view of Shakespeare's tragedy. Eimuntas Nekrošius [2000] presented a fragmentary adaptation of Macbeth, full of symbols, metaphors and allusions.

Tampierová Helena
The Dream of the Rood - A Blend of Pagan and Christian Values
"The Dream of the Rood", acknowledged as perhaps the greatest religious poem in English, has been recognized as an essentially Christian poem. It is my aim to analyze the capacity of the form of a dream vision to integrate also pre-Christian elements within the poem. The resulting text then creates the effect of continuity rather than of antagonism and lends itself to a multicultural interpretation, bringing together the pagan oral tradition and literacy through Christianity.

Tóth Zsófia Anna
On the Verge of Reality: Roxie's Day-dreaming as Passage Between Two Realms of Existence in Chicago (2002)
In this paper, my aim is to prove that in Chicago (2002) Roxie's imaginary dream world is the abstract projection of her own existence which two run in parallel with each other. The two worlds presented to us are that of the "reality" of the filmic body in which the characters exist and the other one is the fantasy world of Roxie's imagination manifested in "theatrical surroundings." The two worlds we have this way are that of the film and that of the theatre which is in embedded in the previous one in the form of day-dreaming. Roxie is the mediator between these two worlds, her day-dreaming is the passage between these two realms of existence. Her escape(s) to her imaginary theatrical world whenever she is unable to cope with the problems and the tension in her "real" life creates (a) "dreamlike summary(ies)" of the core events in the film.

Vernyik Zénó
Charting a Dream. The Textual and Spatial Structure of E. E. Cummings' Him
Early critics of E. E. Cumming' Him usually reproached the play for lacking both structure and message, while they usually only cursorily remarked - if at all - the role that dreaming played in it, often just to account for the lack of conventionally imagined structure. In my presentation, I point out that the play has a tangible structure both textually and spatially, one that is organized around the dream of one of the play's characters. Furthermore, I show that the play' striking qualities spring not from the supposed lack of structure, but rather from the very foregrounding of its structuredness.

Williams Sandra
Death, Angels and Football - Blake's Visions and Almond's England
With reference to ' Skellig' by David Almond, I will discuss the ways in which the secondary world is interwoven with that of the primary as William Blake's visions are deeply embedded in the narrative with dreams playing an important role. Drawing on significant aspects of the child reader implied in the text, I will identify Almond's construction of the child in contemporary England.

Vránková Kamila
´A Fearful Voyage I had:´ Dreams of Reality in Charlotte Brontë´s 'Jane Eyre' and Jean Rhys´s 'Wide Sargasso Sea'
The paper attempts to show how the cited reference to Rochester's and his first wife's troubled journey to England in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (1847) is developed into a symbolic drama of an increasing distance between imagination and reality in Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea (1966). Particular levels of meaning will be discussed with respect to the theory of metaphors and symbols (archetypal criticism, Bakhtin's chronotopes, Paul de Man's study "Lyric and Modernity") and attention will be paid to the ambiguity of imagination, which represents an important harmonizing as well as disruptive element of both discussed texts.

Ženíšek Jakub
Toni Morrison's Magic Realism: Voodoo or Allegory?
The paper seeks to explore both factual and literary underpinnings of selected scenes in Toni Morrison's fiction, which may arguably be labeled as magical realism.



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