Case of Cryptomnesia–or-William Archer’s Dream of Hedda Gabler

Literary Anecdotes about Cryptomnesia -or- The Dream of the Perfect Drama

When I was about 18, I read the J.R.R. Tolkien's epic trilogy of "Lord of the Rings". I read the three books within a few days, I almost never could stop myself from reading, Tolkien's fantasy world was just to good. I remember that each night, I would turn the exciting images that were found in the books into dreams, my imagination took flight. Later, I had seen the various attempted films that tried to adapt the story into a film screenplay, however they did not give the same exciting experience that the books provided. Until Peter Jackson's effort, Tolkien's masterpiece seemed untranslatable into the Hollywood dream factory film medium. As good as Jackson's films are, the depth of the fantasies essential visceral ingredients of the arousal of extreme fear, sense of dark foreboding and the evil that radiated from the books of Lord of the Rings is at times found in a watered down form in the films.

Robert Lewis Stephenson's "fine bogey tale" and masterpiece of "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", which became a book and later a film, came to him in a dream. So the creative writing process can work both ways, we can turn a good dream into a book or, a good book into a dream. Most likely this creative process is very common. Anais Nin, A Woman Speaks tells her reading audience to "proceed from the dream", (read IIDR article "Women's Dreams").

We can creatively turn a good book into a dream, perhaps even a bad one if we really wanted to. I am not the only person, who has turned a book or play into a dream. Robert Hendrickson's "The Wordsworth Book of Literary Anecdotes", reports how William Archer thought he had dreamt the "perfect drama". Upon waking, the plays characters, and plot were all still "clear in his mind", Archer thought that he had dreamt a new literary story. It turned out, to be a case of cryptomnesia, the story was about "Hedda Gabler" by Henrick Ibsen. Reportedly, many people have had cryptomnestic experiences, such as Helen Keller, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Umberto Eco to name a few.




All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.