Manuscript Dream

Manuscript Dream

The Dream

I go to Oxford to sell a medieval manuscript that was given to me.

It was given to me by a librarian at some small library, it has “Bodleian” stamped on its edges. I bring it to the Bodleian to sell it although it was a gift and I half-remember the original librarian telling me that I should notify her if I sell it.

I open the book up to show it to the librarians and at first they’re unimpressed but then they are impressed. One says, “Congratulations.” They arrange a huge event to celebrate the sale. I have to give a kind of talk through the contents, to a huge group of medievalists and map historians (it contains maps). I manage to improvise something good, although a cartography expert questions me when I comment on the sharp angles in the shapes representing the British Isles. I say they’re unusual and he retorts that there were only 3,000 of them anyway. We move on.

This is way out of control and I don’t feel sure that I’m within my rights to be selling this thing at all. In a smaller meeting with various librarians some women express an outrage that I don’t quite understand. I get frustrated and then shout that I’m here to give it back, somebody gave it to me, I’m not going to cash the cheque. Things get very confusing. Somehow the head of the library and I are then together. It rains. I am topless in a long skirt. We make a dash for it.

At first he and I run together and I feel that I am taking long marvelous strides. He is very tall and handsome. Then I slow down and fall. I can’t move. Then, I realize that an elderly newsreader from the United States is trying to beat me up. She is so angry with me about the manuscript, I think she calls me a thief. Eventually I drag myself through the rain to some ledge where the librarian are. I want them to notice that I’m spitting blood. Instead they kiss each other. I’m so hurt and furious, I leave. I wanted it, I’ve wanted it for ten years, I say. Then in the dream I have to cross a long unstable bridge holding the manuscript over a gorge of knives. I clutch it to my chest. Then I look for the bathroom and it is this incredible, bizarrely high-tech situation. The showers have screens that light up. I’m confused but play it cool.

The Manuscript

Cambridge, Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Typ 7, folios 2 verso and 3 recto.

The Text

From the dream itself:

From Macrobius's analysis of the dream: