The article studies some functions of dreams as a literary device and analyzes the symbols used in the dreams selected from the lyrical poem “Ak Moor” by Suyunbai Eraliev. Dream utilisation in literary works of art is a creative manoeuvre purpose and idea of which can be understood through the symbols that are worth interpreting. First short survey of literary dream usage in different ages and then scientific researches carried out on this topic are given.
Keywords: literary dream, sign, semiotic window, predictive dream, prophetic dream, utopian dream
Literary dreams» have always been a dominant topic throughout the ages from the oldest literary styles to the works of contemporary literature. Dream usage and literary functions of dreams in the written and oral traditions of world literature were studied and it was found out that every age dreams and tries to make sense of those dreams. A survey of dreaming reflected in literature of western tradition was made by Thomas Wbeatland and the peculiarities of each century were identified.
From the earliest Western writings it’s known that the ancients believed that dreams were caused by gods, devils, and the dead as foreshadowing like in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. These common beliefs about prophetic dreams were replaced by some kind of internal psychological and philosophical manifestations by Plato and the Stoics. Dreams as mirrors of reality suggested by the fifth-century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus became prevalent perspective by the Elizabethan period and exemplified by the works of Shakespeare. Classical prophetic dreams can be found in the play Richard III and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Dream as a plot device was included in Romeo and Juliet, Henry IV, Measure for Measure, and The Tempest.
In Empiricism which took roots in the 17th century the dream motifs began to dwindle away from literary works as materialism and rationalism gained significance. However, the advent of Romanticism in the 19th century brought back dreams as the celebrated theme in literature, and modern literature has been greatly influenced by the psychological theorizing of Sigmund Freud.
Dreams were used in Russian folklore and works of art by Russian poets and writers like A.S. Pushkin, N.V. Gogol, F.M. Dostoevsky, L.N. Tolstoy, A. Blok, I.S. Turgenev and many others. In 1920 M.Gershenzon researched dreams used by A.S. Pushkin, and then in fifties I.V. Strahov studied psychological functions of the dreams by L.N. Tolstoy. Since 2000 a lot of work has been done in neigbouring Russia. The issues of terminology of literary dreams in philology were studied by N.A.Nagornaya while plot developing, symbolic and other important functions and various characteristic features of dreams were researched by O.V.Fedunina, D.Nechaenko, B.S.Kondratyev and Y.Lotman whose works were reflected in their theses and monographs. Thus the theory of literary dreaming has mystical, psychological and semiotic trends.
As for Kyrgyz literature, dreams were actively used in folk tales, epic “Manas”, small epics and are still utilized in modern literature by writers and poets as well. In Kyrgyz philology literary critics like I.D.Lailieva, A.Akmataliev, A.Kydyrmambetova, M.Toktogulova wrote articles or devoted some chapters of their research to the study of literary dreams in the works by Ch.Aitmatov and K.Jusubaliev. Semiotic analyses of dreams used in epic Manas were made by Z. Karaeva. Literary dreams and their compositional, objective and subjective time and space forming functions were researched by Rysbek Eshmatov in details in his thesis “Nature of literary dreams”. However, there is still a lot to be done on literary dreams used in Kyrgyz works of art.
In Tartu-Moscow school a special attention was drawn to the literary text. According to Lotman literature has a system of signs that are characteristic to only literature itself. A work of art as an integral part of art is considered to be not only the sum of signs but a sign itself and its constituents are the elements of a big sign. In other words literary work of art is a collection of encoded texts. Literary dream as a text within a text is a semiotic window and everyone can see reflection of his language. Dream is a pure sign, people are aware that it has some meaning, but they don’t know what exactly it conveys. This should be decoded. It speaks to a person in that language, explanation of which requires an interpreter — should it be a contemporary psychologist or a pagan devotee. [2.р.128]
Speaking of distinctive features of the poetic style of literary dreams, as dream texts they have clear and hidden plans moreover the latter is the most important and meaningful part of the dream. The next feature is having its own specific language — the language of symbols as it was mentioned earlier. And finally dream texts are metaphorical.
Let’s look at the examples selected from the poem “ Ak Moor” by Suyunbai Eraliev and identify hidden plans and interpretation of dreams, symbols in particular. Nuijten states that one of the most renowned functions is possibly its use as a prediction. Predictive dreams can be divided into two internal categories. The first is when dreams are simply employed to foreshadow future events in a narrative by means of symbolism and the second type of dreams frequently features divine beings. This is closely connected to plot development [4. p.4].
In the poem the main character Ak Moor dreamed that she was going to the mountain to pick up flowers and when she was about to cross the old bridge she lost her balance and fell down.
That night, she dreamt that
She examines the arnica, which
She has just dug up, and mixes it with milk.
Her pack is ready for her trip
With the other girls the foothills of Ichke Say,
To pick flowers.
Just as she was about to cross an old bridge,
She lost her balance and fell down,
“Mummy!” she yelled as
She awoke in fear
Dreaming is a literary reality to which imagery and symbolism are typical. Here in the poem dream functions as a compositional element predicting the future of the character and foreshadowing the plot of the poem. As a text it has the beginning like that night she dreamed, and ending like she awoke in fear. The reason why she was going to the mountain was to pick flowers, it was her purpose but she didn’t reach it. Flower might stand for her sweetheart and inclusion of the bridge symbolizes some change. Some alteration in the girl’s life is expected but not that change for the better because she fell down.
Bolot’s dream is also portrayed where he was all alone wondering about the beauty of nature and reached a dense forest near the river. Suddenly he heard somebody asking for help and it was his Ak Moor whom he didn’t expect to see. She didn’t look as tender as she was before and dressed in shabby clothes. They can’t join each-other because of stray bullet and fire.
“Oh, My Goodness!”
He can’t make out the vision before him.
It looks like a horse made of solid stone!
Urns his thoughts to his beloved:
“Nature’s beauty is incomparable
Yet nothing is equal to you!”
Further on, he reaches a dense forest beside a river,
He travels alone and expects to see no-one.
Suddenly he hears somebody calling: “Help me”
The plaintive voice makes him glance backwards.
It’s Mokush! The last person he expected to see!
But there’s no sign of her earlier, tender beauty,
She doesn’t look herself, dressed in shabby clothes.
She is trying to escape but a stray bullet has stopped her short.
He wants to help her but a fire roars between them,
Its flames fiercely impeding his progress…
“Oh My God, what are you doing to me?” –
He awoke weeping and praying.
In contradistinction to the first dream as a text this dream doesn’t have the beginning but it has the ending like he awoke weeping and praying.It starts with the astonishing beauty of nature, further, dense forest with pure river where he was going, stands for a bright future which he desires to have. Bolot gets a divine message warning him to take certain measures. He dreamed this in the very beginning before khan Zhantai appeared in their lives when Bayan asked Bolot to help. Ak Moor couldn’t join Bolot because of stray bullet; he couldn’t help her because of fire which stands for something preventing from being together. This prophetic dream also foreshadows the future of sweethearts that they can’t be happy.
There is a utopian dream in the poem where the poet communicates with the readers offering them to witness their wedding. Bolot is controlling everything welcoming the guests. The bride is sitting in the curtain screen wearing a kerchief. Guests who came to see a bride left and they were at home all alone dreaming about their bright future. When suddenly one of the herders awakes Bolot it turns out to be his dream not in reality and he felt pity. As Amanda Glumskaya points out dreams let the readers get acquainted not only with an unconsious hero but also an unconcious author [1.р.12]. On the one hand this dream reflects position of the poet who glorifies love on the other hand it shows the main hero’s day-dreams, future plans or wishes to be implemented.
Reader: This little break was meant to refresh you
But enough! Have we forgotten about Bolot?
Has he passed out of sight?
Losing that innocence which he found in love?
Friends, let’s go to his wedding celebrations.
Cooking smells drift up from the kitchen.
The house is full of guests and
We can hear people talking and laughing…
We are met and led inside the house,
“Welcome” they chorus then fall quiet.
Bunching up, the youth make room for us,
The Kumis is ready to follow the tea but
First, we are served large bowls of meat.
Rich in calories, this food provides energy.
Bolot inspects everything
And doesn’t rest until perfection is reached!
The area behind the screen is occupied by women
And in the centre, sits Ak Moor wearing a kerchief.
She talks about her time at Song- Kul...
Love and poets travel the same path:
Lovers work together to overcome their difficulties
And if a poet can capture this in verse, it brings them great delight
He, who does not work, will not eat:
It’s always better to make an effort to prevail.
Some grey haired, elderly women
Approach the curtain screen, which is opened for them.
Moor rises and bows before them.
They bless her: “What a beautiful creature!”
“Be happy with your sweetheart ever after”
Sweets are sprinkled everywhere.
When an old man enters, the bride hides
It is the Kyrgyz tradition that she avoids her father-in-law.
Peers and friends travel far and wide
To see the bride, as is the custom
Bolot and Moor are grateful for their honors,
The men comment: “Through hardship and
Suffering, they found a way to be together…”
“Good Lord bestowed thy blessing on them”.
The strings of the komuz start to vibrate
And the celebration songs begin
Darkness has fallen and all of the guests have left
Now that they are alone,
Bolot quietly calls: “Mokush!”
The edge of curtain screen is turned back,
And the young beauty emerges, laughing
“It felt so strange having to sit there in a corner!”
Wherever or whatever you call home
You will never suffer privation when there is love…
“If we have no- one to keep track of us
We’ll have your parents move so that we can all be together”
They exchange caresses and kiss each other:
“Let’s wish that we have a child together”
“Let’s wish for nine sons and nine daughters!”
“They will grow up…and when we grow old,
We will enjoy the respect of our children.”
“Bolot! Bolot! Wake up! Horses have gone off!”
“What a pity! If only that guy had waited a bit,
I would have taken care of those children!
I was lying with my Ak Moor at my side.
If only you hadn’t interrupted!
What a pity!”
“Who is Ak Moor? Isn’t that the beauty in Song-Kul?
Do you love her? How did it happen?”
Everybody is keen to hear his story
Under the starry sky, while looking after the horses,
From this utopian dream we agree with Lotman that dream as well as the insertion of short stories is the traditional method of introducing the text within the text. While reading the poem a reader is happy to learn that finally through hardships and sufferings sweethearts are together. But readers soon find out that someone awakes Bolot and it was his dream. A poet might have done it as a play on purpose because dream was used as a device to be frank and show his own position. This is a creative manoeuvre with the help of which an author was able to express his idea and for which he can’t be punished. What is encoded in this dream as a text? A lot of cultural codes that are of great significance in Kyrgyz people’s culture are presented which can be quite unknown to foreign readers. Through this dream English speaking readers will get some information about marriage ceremony and what is traditional related to marriage at all. A curtain screen which is put up especially for new bride, bride’s wearing a white kerchief, sprinkling sweets, bride’s avoiding her father-in-law, treating neighbours and other people who come to see the bride may draw a vague picture for those readers who don’t know the meaning and semiotic value of these cultural codes. Through this utopian dream a poet was able to show both his position and hero’s will and it also served a nice tool to portray Kyrgyz marriage tradition. This dream may be considered as a text within the text to be a semiotic window which is full of symbolism.
Having studied semiotic nature of literary dreams and their functions in the works we want to say that dream utilisation by the author plays an important role. In the poem taken for study it has been found out that dream is a creative manoeuvre and it functions plot device predicting both destiny of the main character and the plot development of the poem, and divine message warning another character the coming trouble. Interpretation of symbols used in dreams is important to understand the position and purpose of dream inclusion by the author. Dreams have their own languages which are full of symbolism and interpretation of dream is closely connected with those cultures that use the dream.
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- Wbeatland Thomas Sleep and dreams in literature Retrieved from website http://www.dreamresearch.ca/pdf/literature.pdf