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dreamchild

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  • pigbaby@bigpond.com.au
    ... Karoline, have you read Charles Lamb s Essays of Elia (written 1820- 33)? One of the essays is called Dream Children . In it Elia (Lamb s persona)
    Message 1 of 9 , May 7, 2001
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      KarolineLouise wrote:
      >>My bet is the "real Alice" is something very curious and strange
      >>that maybe
      >>only Dodgson ever understood.

      Karoline, have you read Charles Lamb's "Essays of Elia"(written 1820-
      33)? One of the essays is called "Dream Children". In it Elia (Lamb's
      persona) encounters two phantom children who say at one point "We are
      not of Alice nor of thee nor are we children at all..... We are
      nothing,less than nothing and dreams. We are only what might have
      been."
      There are two Alice in the dream: the phantom daughter and the
      deceased wife. Towards the end of the dream the faces of these Alices
      merge and Elia cannot tell which is which....... at this point the
      dream fades and Elia is left alone.

      The association with Lewis Carroll is most striking I think, and he
      had these essays in his library. My feeling was that this essay in
      particular struck a chord with Dodgson. He adopted a dream child of
      his own called Alice..... maybe Alice Liddell had some of
      these dreamchild qualities, but so did other girls and women Dodgson
      made acquaintance with. Some more than others maybe. Sylvie and Bruno
      are also dream children in the same kind of vein. I think that
      Dodgson was looking for this ideal woman/girl and never quite found
      her. I think Lewis Carroll *was* in love..... with the dream Alice of
      his imagination.

      I wonder.... would he have liked a daughter?

      Deb
    • KarolineLouise@aol.com
      Deb, what you say about Dodgson s dreamchild is beautiful, and I think probably very true. You said it better than I. Yes, I do know the Lamb essay, which
      Message 2 of 9 , May 7, 2001
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        Deb,
        what you say about Dodgson's "dreamchild" is beautiful, and I think probably
        very true. You  said it better than I.

        Yes, I do know the Lamb essay, which is very strange and lovely.  It's easy
        to see how Dodgson, reading that, would have found something that spoke to
        him very personally indeed.  I think his"dream Alice" is indeed  his own
        longed-for ideal girl-woman, whom, as you say, he never  quite found in
        reality.

        Doesn't that last line you quote;

         "We are nothing, less than nothing and dreams. We are only what might have
        been."

        get a haunting echo in Dodgson's poem FACES IN THE FIRE -

        "Aye changeless through the changing scene
        The ghostly whisper rings between
        The dark refrain of 'might have been'".

        One would so like to know what was this plangent sadness he kept expressing
        in such allusive ways all his life long.

        Come to think of it, would anyone like the whole Lamb essay posted here?  
        Just say if you would, it's easy to do.

        Karoline
      • Harley Quinn
        I too would enjoy reading the essay. ===== They call me what they will, I know that now my soul is glad: if this be madness, better so, far better to be mad,
        Message 3 of 9 , May 7, 2001
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          I too would enjoy reading the essay.


          =====
          "They call me what they will, I know that now my soul is glad: if this be madness, better so, far better to be mad, Weeping or smiling as I go"-Stolen Waters Lewis Carroll*
          Humbert Humbert, "What I heard then was the melody of children aplay and nothing but that, and i knew that the hopless thing was not Lolita's absence from my side, but the absence of her voice from that chorus."-1998 Lolita.

          __________________________________________________
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        • KarolineLouise@aol.com
          DREAM CHILDREN by Charles Lamb Children love to listen to stories about their elders, when they were children; to stretch their imagination to the conception
          Message 4 of 9 , May 8, 2001
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            DREAM CHILDREN

            by Charles Lamb

            Children love to listen to stories about their elders, when they were
            children; to stretch their imagination to the conception of a traditionary
            great-uncle, or grandame, whom they never saw.

            It was in this spirit that my little ones crept about me the other evening to
            hear about their great-grandmother Field, who lived in a great house in
            Norfolk (a hundred times bigger than that in which they and papa lived) which
            had been the scene—so at least it was generally believed in that part of the
            country—of the tragic incidents which they had lately become familiar with
            from the ballad of the Children in the Wood.

            Certain it is that the whole story of the children and their cruel uncle was
            to be seen fairly carved out in wood upon the chimney-piece of the great
            hall, the whole story down to the Robin Redbreasts, till a foolish rich
            person pulled it down to set up a marble one of modern invention in its
            stead, with no story upon it.

            Here Alice put out one of her dear mother's looks, too tender to be called
            upbraiding.

            Then I went on to say, how religious and how good their great-grandmother
            Field was, how beloved and respected by every body, though she was not indeed
            the mistress of this great house, but only had the charge of it (and yet in
            some respects she might be said to be the mistress of it too) committed to
            her by the owner, who preferred living in a newer and more fashionable
            mansion which he had purchased somewhere in the adjoining county; but still
            she lived in it in a manner as if it had been her own, and kept up the
            dignity of the great house in a sort while she lived, which afterwards came
            to decay, and was nearly pulled down, and all its old ornaments stripped and
            carried away to the owner's other house, where they were set up, and looked
            as awkward as if some one were to carry away the old tombs they had seen
            lately at the Abbey, and stick them up in Lady C.'s tawdry gilt drawing-room.

            Here John smiled, as much as to say, "that would be foolish indeed."

            And then I told how, when she came to die, her funeral was attended by a
            concourse of all the poor, and some of the gentry too, of the neighborhood
            for many miles round, to show their respect for her memory, because she had
            been such a good and religious woman; so good indeed that she knew all the
            Psaltery by heart, ay, and a great part of the Testament besides. Here little
            Alice spread her hands. Then I told what a tall, upright, graceful person
            their great-grandmother Field once was; and how in her youth she was esteemed
            the best dancer—here Alice's little right foot played an involuntary
            movement, till upon my looking grave, it desisted—the best dancer, I was
            saying, in the county, till a cruel disease, called a cancer, came, and bowed
            her down with pain; but it could never bend her good spirits, or make them
            stoop, but they were still upright, because she was so good and religious.

            Then I told how she used to sleep by herself in a lone chamber of the great
            lone house; and how she believed that an apparition of two infants was to be
            seen at midnight gliding up and down the great staircase near where she
            slept, but she said "those innocents would do her no harm"; and how
            frightened I used to be, though in those days I had my maid to sleep with me,
            because I was never half so good or religious as she—and yet I never saw the
            infants. Here John expanded all his eye-brows and tried to look courageous.

            Then I told how good she was to all her grand-children, having us to the
            great-house in the holydays, where I in particular used to spend many hours
            by myself, in gazing upon the old busts of the Twelve Caesars, that had been
            Emperors of Rome, till the old marble heads would seem to live again, or I to
            be turned into marble with them; how I never could be tired with roaming
            about that huge mansion, with its vast empty rooms, with their worn-out
            hangings, fluttering tapestry, and carved oaken panels, with the gilding
            almost rubbed out—sometimes in the spacious old-fashioned gardens, which I
            had almost to myself, unless when now and then a solitary gardening man would
            cross me—and how the nectarines and peaches hung upon the wall, without my
            ever offering to pluck them, because they were forbidden fruit, unless now
            and then,—and because I had more pleasure in strolling about among the old
            melancholy-looking yew trees, or the firs, and picking up the red berries,
            and the fir apples, which were good for nothing but to look at—or in lying
            about upon the fresh grass, with all the fine garden smells around me—or
            basking in the orangery, till I could almost fancy myself ripening too along
            with the oranges and the limes in that grateful warmth—or in watching the
            dace that darted to and fro in the fish-pond, at the bottom of the garden,
            with here and there a great sulky pike hanging midway down the water in
            silent state, as if it mocked at their impertinent friskings,—I had more
            pleasure in these busy-idle diversions than in all the sweet flavors of
            peaches, nectarines, oranges, and such like common baits of children.

            Here John slily deposited back upon the plate a bunch of grapes, which, not
            unobserved by Alice, he had meditated dividing with her, and both seemed
            willing to relinquish them for the present as irrelevant.

            Then in somewhat a more heightened tone, I told how, though their
            great-grandmother Field loved all her grand-children, yet in an especial
            manner she might be said to love their uncle, John L——, because he was so
            handsome and spirited a youth, and a king to the rest of us; and, instead of
            moping about in solitary corners, like some of us, he would mount the most
            mettlesome horse he could get, when but an imp no bigger than themselves, and
            make it carry him half over the county in a morning, and join the hunters
            when there were any out—and yet he loved the old great house and gardens too,
            but had too much spirit to be always pent up within their boundaries—and how
            their uncle grew up to man's estate as brave as he was handsome, to the
            admiration of everybody, but of their great-grandmother Field most
            especially; and how he used to carry me upon his back when I was a
            lame-footed boy—for he was a good bit older than me—many a mile when I could
            not walk for pain;—and how in after life he became lame-footed too, and I did
            not always (I fear) make allowances enough for him when he was impatient, and
            in pain, nor remember sufficiently how considerate he had been to me when I
            was lame-footed; and how when he died, though he had not been dead an hour,
            it seemed as if he had died a great while ago, such a distance there is
            betwixt life and death; and how I bore his death as I thought pretty well at
            first, but afterwards it haunted and haunted me; and though I did not cry or
            take it to heart as some do, and as I think he would have done if I had died,
            yet I missed him all day long, and knew not till then how much I had loved
            him. I missed his kindness, I missed his crossness, and wished him to be
            alive again, to be quarrelling with him (for we quarrelled sometimes), rather
            than not have him again, and was as uneasy without him, as he their poor
            uncle must have been when the doctor took off his limb.

            Here the children fell a crying, and asked if their little mourning which
            they had on was not for uncle John, and they looked up, and prayed me not to
            go on about their uncle, but to tell them some stories about their pretty
            dead mother.

            Then I told how for seven long years, in hope sometimes, sometimes in
            despair, yet persisting ever, I courted the fair Alice W——n; and, as much as
            children could understand, I explained to them what coyness, and difficulty,
            and denial meant in maidens—when suddenly, turning to Alice, the soul of the
            first Alice looked out at her eyes with such a reality of re-presentment,
            that I became in doubt which of them stood there before me, or whose that
            bright hair was; and while I stood gazing, both the children gradually grew
            fainter to my view, receding, and still receding till nothing at last but two
            mournful features were seen in the uttermost distance, which, without speech,
            strangely impressed upon me the effects of speech;

            "We are not of Alice, nor of thee, nor are we children at all. The children
            of Alice call Bartrum father. We are nothing; less than nothing, and dreams.
            We are only what might have been, and must wait upon the tedious shores of
            Lethe millions of ages before we have existence, and a name"—

            and immediately awaking, I found myself quietly seated in my bachelor
            armchair, where I had fallen asleep, with the faithful Bridget unchanged by
            my side—but John L. (or James Elia) was gone for ever.

          • pigbaby@bigpond.com.au
            Charles Lamb s essay Dream-Children is rather lovely. I discovered it by serendipity....... there is a piece of music called Dream Children written by
            Message 5 of 9 , May 8, 2001
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              Charles Lamb's essay "Dream-Children" is rather lovely. I discovered
              it by serendipity....... there is a piece of music called "Dream
              Children" written by Edward Elgar. I wondered when I heard it whether
              there was a connection to Lewis Carroll as I thought the term "Dream
              Child" had been coined by him. The CD notes pointed to Lamb's essay.
              The music is lovely too........ very soft and dreamy. Sadly I don't
              think Carroll lived long enough to have heard it (I believe it was
              written in the early 1900s)

              Yes I thought the essay reminiscent of "Faces in the Fire" too. Very
              poignant.
              I think it makes Charles Dodgson look very human, and someone I can
              relate to.

              Well I think so
              Ciao
              Deb
            • Kate Lyon
              Karoline - Like you, I find Deb s comments thoughtful and perceptive. I think a few people would be interested to read the essay in its entirety, and if you
              Message 6 of 9 , May 8, 2001
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                Karoline - Like you, I find Deb's comments thoughtful and perceptive. I think a few people would be interested to read the essay in its entirety, and if you could find time to post it, it may throw up some ideas.  I can remember you mentioning Lamb's essay quite some months ago, when we were entered into a discussion about Le Fanu and some of the resonances to LC within his work. 
                Thanks, Kate
              • Kate Lyon
                Hi! I am following this discussion with interest. Just for fun I have included a piece here from Henry Longfellow - it also seems reminiscent of the Lamb and
                Message 7 of 9 , May 9, 2001
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                  Hi! I am following this discussion with interest. Just for fun I have
                  included a piece here from Henry Longfellow - it also seems reminiscent of
                  the Lamb and Carroll approach - particularly when one thinks of 'Child of
                  the pure, unclouded brow. . ."

                  This poem is called Maidenhood - there's more of it in the same vein, but
                  too long to reproduce here, I thought.

                  Kate L

                  Maiden! with the meek, brown eyes,
                  In whose orbs a shadow lies
                  Like the dusk in evening skies!

                  Thou whose locks outshine the sun,
                  Golden tresses, wreathed in one,
                  As the braided streamlets run!

                  Standing, with reluctant feet,
                  Where the brook and river meet,
                  Womanhood and childhood fleet!

                  Gazing, with a timid glance,
                  On the brooklet's swift advance,
                  On the river's broad expanse!

                  Deep and still, that gliding stream
                  Beautiful to thee must seem,
                  As the river of a dream.

                  etc.
                • Kate Lyon
                  Hi all! Further to the Dream-Child, some of you may be interested in this extract from one of Dickens Speeches, delivered at the Freemasons Hall on 9
                  Message 8 of 9 , May 9, 2001
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                    Hi all! Further to the Dream-Child, some of you may be interested in this
                    extract from one of Dickens' Speeches, delivered at the Freemasons Hall on 9
                    February, 1858, the occasion being the anniversary of the Hospital for Sick
                    Children. In light of LC's interest in such hospitals, because this speech
                    has some bearing on it. Thanks for posting Lamb's Essay, Karoline.

                    Kate L

                    "The most delightful paper, the most charming essay, which the tender
                    imagination of Charles Lamb conceived, represents him as sitting by his
                    fireside on a winter night telling stories to his own dear children, and
                    delighting in their society, until he suddenly comes to his old, solitary,
                    bachelor self, and finds that they were but dream-children who might have
                    been, but never were. "We are nothing," they say to him; "less than nothing,
                    and dreams. We are only what might have been, and we must wait upon the
                    tedious shore of Lethe, millions of ages, before we have existence and a
                    name." "And immediately awaking," he says, "I found myself in my arm chair."
                    The dream- children whom I would now raise, if I could, before every one of
                    you, according to your various circumstances, should be the dear child you
                    love, the dearer child you have lost, the child you might have had, the
                    child you certainly have been. Each of these dream- children should hold in
                    its powerful hand one of the little children now lying in the Child's
                    Hospital, or now shut out of it to perish. Each of these dream-children
                    should say to you, "O, help this little suppliant in my name; O, help it for
                    my sake!" Well! - And immediately awaking, you should find yourselves in the
                    Freemasons' Hall, happily arrived at the end of a rather long speech,
                    drinking "Prosperity to the Hospital for Sick Children," and thoroughly
                    resolved that it shall flourish."
                  • Kate Lyon
                    Sorry - for because read perhaps. . . this has some bearing on LC s interest in hospitals! K
                    Message 9 of 9 , May 9, 2001
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                      Sorry - for 'because' read 'perhaps. . . this has some bearing on LC's
                      interest in hospitals!'

                      K
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