Book summary: Sleep Has His House

1948 BY ANNA KAVAN

A largely autobiographical account of an unhappy childhood, this daring synthesis of memoir and surrealist experimentation chronicles the subject's gradual withdrawal from the daylight world of received reality. Brief flashes of daily experience from childhood, adolescence, and youth are described in what is defined as "nighttime language"—a heightened, decorative prose that frees these events from their gloomy associations.
The novel suggests we have all spoken this dialect in childhood and in our dreams, but these thoughts can only be sharpened or decoded by contemplation in the dark. Revealing that side of life which is never seen by the waking eye but which dreams and drugs can suddenly emphasize, this startling discovery illustrates how these nighttime illuminations reveal the narrator's joy for the living world.

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