For my research paper I plan on using Lathe of Heaven and The Other Wind, both by Ursula Le Guin. Lathe of Heaven is a science fiction novel that explores the possibility of dreams which alter reality along with the moral issues which accompany this power. One of Le Guin’s Earthsea novels, The Other Wind, is a fantasy novel in which one man’s dreams are used by mages to reach the realm of the dead and prevent an uprising of the dead. These two novels, written by the same author, but in different genres suggest a parallel which can be used to explore the concept of dreams in fiction. One question that immediately comes to mind is whether dreams are a heightening of fiction, or merely an alternate form of fiction? Another question concerns Le Guin’s differing approaches to dreams in these separate genres. It is interesting to note that she also addresses dreams in two other genres, which I will be referencing as secondary sources. Another possible question is why do we need proof of the potency of dreams in a science fiction setting while it seems possible to suspend disbelief in a fantasy novel? It is also notable that the dreamers in both novels have such negative perceptions of dreams that they try to prevent sleep. Another question is what does a writer need to sacrifice about the non-linear nature of dreaming in order to write a coherent scene?
My secondary sources will be comprised of both literary criticism and Le Guin’s own works. Le Guin has written an essay entitled “Dreams Must Explain Themselves” and a picture book entitled “Cat Dreams”. It should be elucidating to read how Le Guin addresses dreams in these additional genres. I plan on using the text of her essay as a lens through which to view her works of fiction. I also plan to use works by literary critics on the nature of dreams in writing. One author I plan to reference is Bert O. States. I hope to find other pieces of literary analysis of dreams as well as any literary criticism of Le Guin.
I find the idea and process of writing about (or in) altered states to be problematic and fascinating. I hope to bring light to what we are actually experiencing when reading about dreams. I also hope to analyze the relationship between genre and the treatment of dreams. Le Guin is a perfect author to investigate because she has successfully written about dreams in four different genres, which makes an analysis of her work a scientifically-sound study.