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The Poetics of Sleep


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Introduction: The Poetics of Sleep 1. Philosophy's Limits 2. Freudian Sleep 3. Phenomenology of Sleep 4. The Dream About the Dream 5. Sleep Without Sleep 6. Dream of Sleep 7. Madness, Sleep 8. Fall of Sleep Bibliography Index

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A highly original study of the poetics of sleep at the heart of some of the seminal texts of the modern European philosophical tradition.

About the Author

Simon Morgan Wortham is Professor of English and co-director of the London Graduate School at Kingston University London, UK.


The Poetics of Sleep is impressive in its reach and largely persuasive in its perception of sleep as mirroring philosophy's fractured self-image ... An admirable and audacious book whose greatest achievement lies perhaps not in uncovering sleep as a revelatory tool for addressing philosophical history, but in beginning, with due care for the difficulty of the project, to think again about how to do philosophy -- Danielle Sands, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK * Textual Practice *
While Morgan Wortham's book productively offers no concluding space for enabling us to sleep more easily, he does offer us a means of sleeping (and dreaming) in a more enlightened manner. -- Francesca Minnie Hardy, University of Aberdeen * French Studies *
Rich in scope and detail ... the book's strength lies in the fact that it opens up and introduces territory I would not necessarily have considered -- Robert Meadow, University of Surrey, UK * Cultural Sociology *
It is precisely Morgan Wortham's attentiveness to the question of the border between sleep and wakefulness, however, that signals an exemplary methodology that works with ease both within and without the tradition of philosophy, neither exhausting sleep as a philosophical theme nor as simply a position to espouse an attack on philosophical discourse. -- Marc Farrant * Los Angeles Review of Books *
With an impressive historical and philosophical range, Simon Morgan Wortham shows how the idea of sleep has been a constant complication for western thought: sleep both has a 'poetics' and also presents difficult problems for philosophy and science. In clear and elegant prose, Simon Morgan Wortham explores issues of consciousness, representation, biology, physiology and writing in a fascinating way that will keep readers wakeful. -- Robert Eaglestone, Professor of Contemporary Literature and Thought at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
Sleep is 'beloved', as that great insomniac the Ancient Mariner says, 'from pole to pole'. But what is this love about? What do science and philosophy have to tell us, and how can we know whether they are right? The Poetics of Sleep confronts the reader with something akin to the paradox of Bach's Goldberg Variations: a project of this nature inevitably dallies with the pleasures of the soporific. Maintaining an admirable critical vigilance and intellectual restlessness, Wortham provides a rich and thought-provoking survey of sleep theory, from Plato to Jean-Luc Nancy. -- Nicholas Royle, Professor of English at the University of Sussex, UK
Rather wonderfully on two occasions Morgan Wortham's book undertakes rhetorical respites from the philosophical text and instead drifts off into textual reveries of Paul Celan's 'Edgar Jene and the Dream about the Dream' (in Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference (London: Routledge, 1995)) and Beckett's Cascando and Company where enunciator and enunciation become unclear and the experience of colour is synaesthetically vocalized. ... Morgan Wortham's book productively offers no concluding space for enabling us to sleep more easily, he does offer us a means of sleeping (and dreaming) in a more enlightened manner. -- Francesca Minnie Hardy, University of Aberdeen * French Studies *

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