The Domestication of Dreams – A Comparative Analysis of Lou Andreas – Salomé’s Literary, Autobiographical and Academic Writing

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Iris Schaefer


Long before Freud’s remarks in Der Dichter und das Phantasieren (1921), the analogy of dreaming and writing has been recognized, for example by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 – 1834) who indicated poetry as a ‘rationalized dream’, or Jean Paul (1763–1825) who specified dreaming as ‘involuntary poetry.’3 Assuming that every writing on dreams (deliberately or unconsciously) is an autobiographical writing, it seems necessary to consider the author’s individual perspective on this phenomenon, in order to make sense of their literary portrayals. Lou Andreas – Salomé seems to be an ideal example for such an attempt, as her autobiographical as well as her academic texts feature insights on her shifting and developing ideas concerning the significance of dreams. By the examples of Die Geschichte von der Gänseblume und von den Wolken (1924 for children), Das Paradies (1899), Wolga (1902 for young adults) and Fenitschka (1919 for adults), I will demonstrate that the individual meaning of these literary representations unfolds in connection to her biographical and scientific texts. In her writing for young children as well as in her biographical texts on her own childhood, dreams represent an idealized idea of childhood, while the dreaming child is depicted as an artist to be. In her novellas for young adults as well as within her biographical dream reports, the surreal space of dreaming is connected with the ambiguous sphere between childhood and adulthood. As will be shown, these representations feature a prophetic dimension. Similar to her own adult profession, the protagonist of Fenitschka is equipped with psychoanalytical knowledge and articulates her own interpretation. In order to make sense of Andreas – Salomé’s literary representations of dreaming children and young adults, they will be read with contemporary psychoanalytical sources, but also her own dream reports and scientific publications. 

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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