Plot[ edit ] Dream Story is set in earlyth-century Vienna. The protagonist of the story is Fridolin, a successful year-old doctor who lives with his wife Albertina also translated as Albertine and their young daughter. One night, Albertina confesses that the previous summer, while they were on vacation in Denmark, she had a sexual fantasy about a young Danish military officer. Fridolin then admits that during that same vacation he had been attracted to a young girl on the beach. Later that night, Fridolin is called to the deathbed of an important patient. Restless, Fridolin leaves and begins to walk the streets.
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Shelves: 20th-century , read-in-translation , short-stories , fiction The big shock and surprise for me about this story was that it written in , it feels like something that belongs to an era twenty or thirty years earlier, perhaps that is part of the point.
In a cafe by chance the main character Doctor Fridolin, meets his old friend Nightingale, Nightingale has a wife and four children back in Lemburg who he supports by playing the piano badly in various shady establishments. Is one name, one identity more real, more correct, or did they all co-exist in reality, just that mostly only one is on display at anyone time? Yet the city is a fact. It does exist, it did exist, it will exist, just what it is called changes and each name implies a radically different reality without the reorientation of a single street or even the remodelling of a modest house.
Are all these names just masks? Does the mask hide, does it protect or project? This is a geographical story, with clearly marked zones and spaces.
The Fridolin at the beginning of the story has a safe space, within this space are himself, his wife and their daughter, however nothing happens and as a result of that his space is revealed in fact to be polluted. He talks to Nightingale. In Lemburg there is the wife and child zone, Vienna is the work zone and in the wallet is some money that belongs correctly to Fridolin, a debt is repaid, however Nightingale asserts that Vienna is not what Fridolin is familiar with, no, weird things happen, secret societies, masked faces, naked bodies - everything smells of sex.
Fridolin decides he wants in to transition from safe space to a danger zone. Later Fridolin visits the mortuary, the mortuary we can read as the underworld, traditionally there the hero is given certain and precise guidance.
This mortuary is presided over by Doctor Eagle, Fridolin is neither an eagle nor a nightingale, but each attracts him non-sexually as representing a certain attitude towards life, science versus sensuality.
In a modern world we can read the mortuary as a place of science, definite, precise, analytic. Fridolin looks at a woman. Is she a woman who may have protected him, or not? All he can see is that this woman is dead, the woman he knew was alive, he moves through a space of secret knowledge but within himself finds only doubt and uncertainty. Fridolin and his wife exchange almost erotic memories, once, says Fridolin, I saw a naked teenaged girl walking down a gangplank early one morning, just as the sun was rising by the seaside.
But we look at this and how difficult it is for Fridolin - is she a girl or a woman? Is this virginal innocence or a sexual display that is, frankly whorish?
Is this a family holiday and therefore a safe zone, or is it out there in dangerous Denmark? The answer I feel is, Hello Dr. Freud, also geographic, specifically in that particular zone between the ears, above the tongue and below the scalp. He is bumped against by a member of a student fraternity - harmless accident or evidence of hostility on the street, he turn he suspects both.
Can he cope with himself without the constant projection of his own lust on to others? In the end maybe a naked juvenile of the female variety enjoying the privacy of the early morning by the seaside is just that, as a Doctor we might think his duty was to warn her of the dangers of sunburn as a man we know he is doing a not so good a job of repressing his sexuality because it pops up everywhere and troubles him.
It is though a very cold story, oddly enough for a exploration of a man in a certain psychological state - wanting to have sex with all the women but when specific opportunities come his way he turns away, believing with some fierceness that everybody around him is busily having sex almost whereever he goes - and to me it felt like a Freudian word association game- hearse?
I think Jewishness and Vienna are essential here, Vienna was both a relatively safe space for Jews in the twilight of the Austro-Hungarian empire, but also a city in which anti-Semitism had become fused into main-stream politics. You might want to pass unnoticed, being exposed, unmasked, might be dangerous.
Also, hello Dr. Whose dream is this story?
Rhapsody; A Dream Novel