History of 10 Dreams That Weren't Forgotten

About the history of ten dreams that were not forgotten such as Coleridge's Kubla Khan and Shelley's Frankenstein.

10 DREAMS THAT WEREN'T FORGOTTEN

1. CAEDMON'S "HYMN" (657 A.D.)

In a dream, a stranger commanded Caedmon to sing of the "beginning of created beings," and the illiterate herdsman found himself singing verses that he had never before heard. When he awoke, he remembered his dream poem: the nine-line "Hymn."

2. GIUSEPPE TARTINI'S TRILLO DEL DIAVOLO (1714)

The violinist and composer Tartini dreamed that he handed his violin to the devil and listened while the devil played a sonata of astonishing beauty. When he tried to reproduce the sonata on awakening, he could remember only one repeated trill. He used this trill as his theme in his Trillo del Diavolo.

3. HORACE WALPOLE'S THE CASTLE OF OTRANTO (1764)

Walpole dreamed that he was "in an ancient castle and on the uppermost banister of a great staircase saw a gigantic hand in armor." Taking this dream scene as his point of departure. Walpole immediately began to write The Castle of Otranto, the first Gothic novel in English.

4. SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE'S "KUBLA KHAN" (1798)

After taking opium, Samuel Taylor Coleridge fell asleep in his chair while reading. During three hours of profound sleep, he "composed" between two and three hundred lines of poetry. After awakening, he had written down just 54 lines of "Kubla Khan" when he was interrupted by a visitor. Later, when Coleridge returned to his desk, he found that he could no longer remember his dream poem.

5. MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN (1818)

While lying in bed, Mary Shelley saw, in "an acute mental vision," the creation of a monster through the artificial reanimation of a hideous corpse. She told herself: "What terrified me will terrify others; and I need only describe the specter that haunted my midnight pillow." The next day she sat down to put to paper her vision and wrote the horror classic Frankenstein.

6. FRIEDRICH AUGUST KEKULE VON STRADONITZ'S DISCOVERY OF THE ORGANIC STRUCTURE OF CARBON ATOMS (1850)

While riding a London omnibus, the young German chemist Kekule had a "waking dream" in which he envisioned the organic structure of connected carbon atoms. This led to his publication in 1858 of The Structure Theory, which paved the way for modern structural organic chemistry.

7. RICHARD WAGNER'S ORCHESTRAL INTRODUCTION TO DAS RHEINGOLD (1853-1854)

While dozing, Wagner heard a "rushing sound" that gradually formed itself into the chord of E-flat major. Upon awakening, he realized that the orchestral overture to Das Rheingold had been revealed to him.

8. FRIEDRICH AUGUST KEKULE VON STRADONITZ'S BENZENE RING (1865)

Kekule struggled for years to formulate the structure of benzene. One night, in a dream, he saw snakes biting their tails, a graphic representation of the "ring" or "closed-chain" structure of the benzene molecule.

9. A. C. BENSON'S "THE PHOENIX" (1894)

Benson dreamed the four verses of his "Phoenix" and wrote them down on a scrap of paper in the middle of the night. He confessed that he himself was puzzled as to the meaning of the symbolism of his dream poem.

10. OTTO LOEWI'S TRANSMISSION OF NERVE IMPULSES (1921)

In the middle of the night on Easter Sunday, 1921, an idea for an experiment came to the German physiologist Loewi in a dream. Loewi rushed to his laboratory, performed the experiment, and proved his theory of a chemical presence in the transmission of nerve impulses. He shared the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1936 for his discovery.

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