When was the last time you read a novel followed by nightmares? I mean proper nights of constant bad dreams that leave you exhausted the next morning. If you asked me that question a month ago I’d probably scratched my head for a couple of minutes before answering.
As a teenager I read a book about some evil spirits in a kind of fairy tale setting. I don’t remember the title or author of the novel but I suspect it was probably Scandinavian. The story talked about a family who moved into a cabbin in a wonderful green forest unaware of the “evil” spirits that lived in the other side of a river. As it happens the children cross the mythical water border as their dog felt the danger and acted strangely. This opened the path for “evil” to follow them and move into the house causing all sort of discomfort to the family. It was described as a “bad presence”, always there, always watching. Even today just the memory of that book makes me scared but out of curiosity I should try to find out the details.
But leaving evil spirits in enchanted forests, here I am confessing that at my age a novel gave me a week of bad dreams. The strange thing is that I made the connection when I was about to finish the book, because, it must be said, it was not reading a horror novel. I was reading Blindness by Jose Saramago.
My dreams were about chaos, not knowing where to go and what to do. I wasn’t blind (like most of the characters in the book) but I dreamed the stress, frustration, anger, sadness and fear of the lead female character. I woke up relieved to see myself in my bed and in a peaceful atmosphere, but still wondering what was causing me to dream those things.
A few days before finishing the novel I was fully aware that those dreams were inevitably linked to the book. So I decided to enjoy them thinking they would go away. At the end, I had to speed read the novel to avoid another night of bad dreams but at the same time I was enjoying the story tremendously!
The night I closed Blindness and went to sleep prepared for my last nightmare.
The whole experience left me thinking how literature can have such an impact in our unconsciousness and proved why the works of authors like Jose Saramago are simply to powerful to forget, even when you are asleep.