The Golden Notebook

The Golden Notebook

by

Doris Lessing

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Anna’s Dreams Symbol Icon

Anna’s blue notebook records her conversations with her psychoanalyst, Mrs Marks, which largely focus on Anna’s peculiar dreams. Whereas she feels emotionally blunted in real life, Anna notes that “all my creativity is going into my dreams”; in dreams, she experiences a tremendous depth of feeling, and they become her main source of insight into her fears, suffering, and emotional needs. Anna’s dreams contain their own individual significance as well. Her first dream is about failing to perform, which represents her “lack of feeling”; the next few dreams represent “false art,” which reflects her fear that her writing does not adequately represent the truth of her experience. Mrs Marks’s ability to dictate when Anna stops and starts dreaming, as well as her eventual appearance as a benevolent figure in Anna’s dreams, represents her powerful (if underappreciated) role in helping Anna restore her creativity by processing her emotions, moving them from the unconscious to the conscious mind.

Anna’s most important dreams are her nightmare about “joy in spite,” and those about Saul as the projectionist replaying her memories in the golden notebook; both of these dreams represent her struggle to overcome contradictions, not necessarily by resolving them to one side or the other (picking joy or spite, herself or Saul as the true driving force of her identity) but rather by holding both sides of the contradiction in herself at once. Mrs Marks teaches Anna to dream the “joy in spite” dream “positively,” and to awake “filled with joy and peace.” The projectionist dreams allow Anna to see her plurality of perspectives on her life and the world, which begin to meld into words on a page that represent her ultimate achievement in the novel: the creative energy to write Free Women. Throughout the novel, Anna’s dreams (much like the golden notebook) integrate the divisions Anna creates for herself in her life, incorporating material from her four notebooks and offering her the self-knowledge (and sometimes foresight) that she can only gain when she unconsciously sees herself as whole rather than fragmented.

Anna’s Dreams Quotes in The Golden Notebook

The The Golden Notebook quotes below all refer to the symbol of Anna’s Dreams. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon and Schuster edition of The Golden Notebook published in 1962.
The Notebooks: 1 Quotes

Literature is analysis after the event.

Related Characters: Anna Wulf (speaker), Ella
Page Number: 216
Explanation and Analysis:
The Golden Notebook Quotes

Still asleep, I read the words off a page I had written: That was about courage, but not the sort of courage I have ever understood. It's a small painful sort of courage which is at the root of every life, because injustice and cruelty is at the root of life. And the reason why I have only given my attention to the heroic or the beautiful or the intelligent is because I won't accept that injustice and the cruelty and so won't accept the small endurance that is bigger than anything.

Related Characters: Anna Wulf (speaker), Mrs Marks / Mother Sugar, Saul Green
Related Symbols: Anna’s Dreams
Page Number: 606
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Golden Notebook PDF

Anna’s Dreams Symbol Timeline in The Golden Notebook

The timeline below shows where the symbol Anna’s Dreams appears in The Golden Notebook. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Notebooks: 1
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...of depression and rejection, which she imagines Paul Tanner’s wife must have felt, too. She dreams that she is keeping Paul’s house, waiting for him to return from Nigeria, and awakens... (full context)
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On January 14, 1950: Anna dreams “a great deal.” In one dream, she is “dressed absurdly,” sitting at a grand-piano in... (full context)
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On January 31, 1950: Anna tells Mrs Marks about numerous recent dreams that have felt like “false art, caricature, illustration, parody.” They were pleasant and vivid—even though... (full context)
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Anna adds that, the day of the above entry, she “stopped dreaming as if a magic wand had been waved.” She and Mrs Marks talk about her... (full context)
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...with Michael, but hates him every morning. Mrs Marks suggests it is “time you started dreaming again,” and as if following an order, Anna does. (full context)
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...about “the anarchic principle” as “an inhuman sort of dwarf.” Mrs Marks is in the dream “like a kind of amiable witch” but, in their session, insists that this figure is... (full context)
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...way of “keep[ing] things in proportion,” reminding herself of problems beyond her own. She also dreams about these horrible things, as if they are personal—Mrs Marks asks if it is “an... (full context)
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On April 15, 1954: Anna has multiple dreams about Michael leaving, which convince her that he will indeed leave soon. Though unhappy in... (full context)
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On April 23: during her last appointment, Anna recounts a dream of walking a casket through a room “full of dead pictures and statues.” She hands... (full context)
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Mrs Marks has no reply to this dream, but says Anna should “drop in to see her” if necessary. Anna knows Mrs Marks... (full context)
The Notebooks: 2
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Anna has a wonderful dream about “an enormous web of beautiful fabric” covered with moving images of myths, all in... (full context)
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...moment, then one man calls it “good honest basic stuff,” Anna cracks a joke about dreaming the same fantasy, and the same man says he “thought it was a parody at... (full context)
Free Women: 3
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Imagining a dried-out well, Anna determines to dream about water. Instead, she dreams about needing to trek across the desert, toward beautiful, colorful... (full context)
The Notebooks: 3
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November 12: Anna dreams about the pigeon, realizing only upon waking that it reminds her of a story from... (full context)
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...she does not want to be “better at the cost of living inside myth and dreams,” that she is less in conflict, but perhaps not morally better. For a moment, as... (full context)
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...her refusal to see herself in the terms of history, to simply fulfill “the old dream of the golden age” or any other dream—she wants to cut off the “old and... (full context)
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...nightmare, which Mother Sugar made her realize was about “joy in spite.” At first, she dreamed that her Russian vase had an “anarchistic and uncontrollable” personality and threatened “everything that was... (full context)
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Anna says she will write about “the experience to which the dream related,” but simply draws a black line and writes that she does not want to.... (full context)
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While the dream has not repeated, Anna has rejected a man she met at Molly’s house, for she... (full context)
The Notebooks: 4
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...suffering in Africa in 1955-1957, as well as a single entry from September 1956: Anna dreams there is a television film being made about the people she knew at the Mashopi... (full context)
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In the morning, Anna can smell fear on Saul’s neck—she falls back asleep and dreams that she is the malicious man. Saul is still cold in the morning and smiles... (full context)
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...fascinating experience.” They fall asleep. In the morning, Saul is cold and asks what Anna dreamed about—it is “the terrible dream, but the malicious irresponsible principle was embodied in Saul.” (full context)
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...“celebrating destruction.” She awakens “filled with joy and peace” and wonders if she has finally “dreamed the dream ‘positively,’” as Mother Sugar always hoped for her. (full context)
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Anna is in the old “flying dream” about “joy, joy in light, free movement.” She flies to China and finds a pregnant... (full context)
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Anna is sick in the bathroom and goes to sleep, then dreams of “playing roles” against Saul, as in variations of the same play. In the morning,... (full context)
The Golden Notebook
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...sanity than ever before. She crawls to bed and remembers when she could control her dreams, time, and motions. The ceiling becomes a tiger, the curtains the “shreds of stinking sour... (full context)
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Anna wakes up, “exhausted by the dreaming,” but actually, she soon realizes, exhausted because Saul has returned. She can feel that he... (full context)
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Anna watches Saul fight “to refuse entrance to alien personalities,” like she did during the dream. They put on jazz and lose track of the sick versions of themselves. She wonders... (full context)
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...knowledge, like her other recent moments of insight, is powerful but inexpressible through words. The dream simply feels like “words spoken after the event, or a summing-up, for emphasis’ sake, of... (full context)
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...projectionist will not answer, so Anna turns off the machine, and then (still in her dream) reads her own words from a page: these scenes are about the “small painful sort... (full context)
Free Women: 5
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...she worries they might be responsible, she sees the notebooks as alien. One night, she dreams that both the healthy Janet and the starved Tommy are her children; Tommy disappears and... (full context)