dream vision

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A kind of narrative (usually but not always in verse) in which the narrator falls asleep and dreams the events of the tale. The story is often a kind of allegory, and commonly consists of a tour of some marvellous realm, in which the dreamer is conducted and instructed by a guide, as Dante is led through hell by Virgil in his Divine Comedy (c.1320)—the foremost example of the form. The dream vision was much favoured by medieval poets, most of them influenced by the 13th-century Roman de la rose by the French poets Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meung. In English, Chaucer devoted much of his early work to dream visions, including The Parlement of Foules, while Langland wrote the more substantial Piers Plowman; another fine 14th-century example is the anonymous poem Pearl. Some later poets have adopted the conventions of the dream vision, as in Shelley's The Triumph of Life (1824). Significant examples in prose include Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1678) and William Morris's vision of socialism in News from Nowhere (1890).

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval).

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