A History of Dreams
Brio Books, $29.99 pb, 312 pp
Allegories can be divisive. They are inherently deceptive, forever speaking with forked tongues. Animal Farm both is and isn’t a fairy story about talking pigs. Spenser’s Faerie Queene isn’t just an epic poem about the Redcrosse Knight’s chivalric virtues. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe isn’t merely a fantasy about plucky children conquering a malicious ice queen. Some readers enjoy being literary archaeologists fossicking beneath a narrative’s surface for deeper meaning. There is a thrill in peering through a story’s topsoil, discovering the many-layered substrata beneath it, seeing the author’s politics supporting the words. Others prefer texts without overt messages. To them, as Barthes puts it, the writer should be ‘dead’. Let readers engage with the work on their own terms. Let the book speak for itself.