Journeys in Dream and Imagination

Lundkvist, Artur

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Memoir

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Jun-08-1997


In 1981 the author, a well-known 75 year old Swedish poet, suffered a heart attack and lay comatose for two months. He then began a prolonged period during which he gradually recovered all of his faculties. In the early stage of his recovery, Lundkvist experienced a series of strange and intense "waking dreams," which he describes in this memoir. Many were dreams of journeys to real or fantastic places: for example, a trip to a railroad station in Chicago where physicians surgically transformed white people into black people, or a visit to a strange planet where cows produced blue milk. Lundkvist's memories of these dreams are embedded in a series of imaginative meditations on aging, human nature, the meaning of life, and the inexorable passage of time.


This short book is accurately subtitled "the hallucinatory memoir of a poet in a coma." The poet's meditations are unfailingly imaginative, gracefully written, and often very insightful. Lundkvist's clinical circumstance is not new: a patient hovering near the maw of death returns to life to report a profound experience that took place while others thought he or she was comatose or delirious. In this poet's version, the tale makes for astringent and elegant reading. It is interesting to compare these hallucinatory experiences with those reported by Richard Selzer in Raising the Dead (see this database), the book he wrote after experiencing a near-fatal episode of Legionella pneumonia.


Translated by Ann B. Weissmann & Annika Planck. Introduction by Carlos Fuentes.


Four Walls Eight Windows

Place Published

New York



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