Night: Night Life, Night Language, Sleep, and Dreams

Overview

"Elegantly written. . . . Alvarez . . . lead[s] you to a new understanding of the night. You will no longer look out into the darkness and see only a yawning void."—Kevin Coyne, Los Angeles Times Book Review
As children, most of us are scared of the dark. Although we may put that fear behind us, it remains nonetheless buried deep in places where we prefer not to look. It is a terror-as old as the human race-that survives in spite of the magic of electricity, which disguises but ...

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Overview

"Elegantly written. . . . Alvarez . . . lead[s] you to a new understanding of the night. You will no longer look out into the darkness and see only a yawning void."—Kevin Coyne, Los Angeles Times Book Review
As children, most of us are scared of the dark. Although we may put that fear behind us, it remains nonetheless buried deep in places where we prefer not to look. It is a terror-as old as the human race-that survives in spite of the magic of electricity, which disguises but can never erase the differences between night and day.
In this powerfully written book, A. Alvarez examines night in all its aspects. How do we light it? How do we inhabit it and make it safe? In what "languages" do we dream? The search moves from the neon-lit brilliance of Las Vegas to the shadowy underworld patrolled by the police. We visit a sleep laboratory, where scientists try to understand what happens to our bodies and in our brains when sleep claims us. Alvarez shows how "night horrors" inspired and terrified Coleridge, how dreams liberated the minds of Stevenson and the Surrealists, and how his own childhood fears provided a gateway to the secret world of the unconscious. And through a highly original and accessible account of the thoughts of Freud, Jung, and their modern-day counterparts, Alvarez reveals how deeply dreams and the unconscious color and fashion our waking lives.
Like his bestseller The Savage God, Night is a remarkable, eloquent combination of ideas and personal experience; it is a literary feast, a journey of discovery, and a perfect initiation into the mysteries of the dark.

A brilliant exploration of night and the deep resonances it has for the human race. Alvarez--author of The Savage God--gives readers a new understanding of the fragile borderline between day and night, an understanding of the language of dreams, and an explanation of how dreams affect our waking selves.

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Editorial Reviews

John Banville - Boston Sunday Globe
“A perceptive, instructive, at times beautiful and always entertaining study of our nocturnal lives.”
Penelope Mesic - Chicago Tribune
“A book lyrical and scientific, personal and scrupulously researched. . . . [Alvarez's] precision of expression is a delight.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Alvarez begins this delightful, serendipitous meditation on night, darkness, sleep, dreams and night life by discussing his own childhood terror of the dark, in a home seething with nighttime quarrels, and his middle-age addiction to sleep. He then visits an English sleep research lab, where he has his sleep monitored; travels to New York City to ride in a police squad car with cops on night patrol; and captures the nocturnal rhythms of London and of a Tuscan farmhouse in the Italian Appennines. In graceful, insightful prose, Alvarez The Savage God: A Study of Suicide analyzes imagery of light and dark from Shakespeare to John Cheever; scrutinizes the dream theories of Freud and Jung; examines dreams as a source of inspiration for Coleridge, Ionesco, Don DeLillo, French surrealists and scientists and inventors; and mulls the late-Victorian passion for ghost stories. His observation, ``Night contains whatever you care to put into it,'' serves as an apt keynote for this kaleidoscopic excursion. Jan.
Library Journal
Scared of the dark? The author of the best-selling The Savage God LJ 4/1/72 here examines our response to night, eventually linking it to creativity.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393314342
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/1996
  • Pages: 269
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

A. Alvarez is a highly acclaimed poet, novelist, literary critic, and author. He lives in London.

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