This enlightening, entertaining, and intriguing novel begins as a story within a story -- or a story within a trunk. A Frenchman--our narrator, presumably the author Michel Jouvet, or a literary version of himself -- buys an antique chest with brass fittings, labeled with the initials HLS and a partially worn away date, "178-." Happy to have such a handsome piece for his hallway, the narrator is surprised to find within it bundles of ancient papers tied with string. He has discovered the dream journals, experiments, and correspondence of eighteenth-century amateur scientist Hugues la Sceve. With Jouvet, a recognized authority on sleep and dream research, as our guide, we follow la Sceve's quest to unlock the mystery of dreams. In his chateau and elsewhere, la Sceve undertakes a series of complex and often comic experiments: he records his own dreams and speculates on their relation to waking life; he studies sleeping cats, rabbits, and other animals (and observes rapid eye movement almost two centuries before modern science discovers it); he records the sleep and dream experiences of a Swiss soldier and a pair of Siamese twins.
And, because sleep and dreams are often in close proximity to the erotic, he considers the relation of dreaming and sexual activity, heroically undertaking first-hand research with various women (with the notable exception of his wife). La Sceve's fantastic experiments and discoveries have a solid scientific basis: Jouvet has transposed some of his own cutting-edge research to the context of the eighteenth century -- when scientific knowledge was more limited, but the joy of scientific study was more widespread. La Sceve's experiments are a testament to the power of scientific observation. The tale that Jouvet discovered buried in the old chest could have been true.
Buy Castle of Dreams book by Michel Jouvet from Australia's Online Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(203mm x 136mm x 17mm)
Publisher: MIT Press Ltd
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Author Biography - Michel Jouvet
Michel Jouvet, a pioneer in sleep research, is Emeritus Professor of Experimental Medicine at the University of Lyon, France. He is a member of the French Academy of Sciences and holds the Gold Medal of the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique). He is the author of The Paradox of Sleep: The Story of Dreaming (MIT Press). Laurence Garey, a neuroscientist and anatomist, is the translator of Michel Jouvet's The Paradox of Sleep (2001) and The Castle of Dreams (2008), both published by the MIT Press. J. Allan Hobson is Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus, at Harvard Medical School. He is the author of The Dreaming Brain: How the Brain Creates Both the Sense and The Nonsense of Dreams, Dreaming as Delirium: How the Brain Goes Out of Its Mind (MIT Press,1999), The Dream Drugstore: Chemically Altered States of Consciousness (MIT Press, 1999, 2001), and other books.