The definition of literature I give at the end of the previous chapter has, no doubt, little general currency these days. It was, however, widely current in a different form in the medieval tradition of the dream vision. The dream vision gets its greatest expression in Dante's (1265-1321) Divine Comedy (1300 ff.). It goes on having vitality as a genre as late as Percy Bysshe Shelley's (1792-1822) The Triumph of Life (written in 1822) and even in more recent books. Carroll's Alice books (1865, 1872) are also, after all, dream visions too. (Lewis Carroll was the pen-name of Charles Dodgson (1832-98).) A dream vision presupposes the independent existence of what the dreamer sees. Dante's speaks as though the experiences of his pilgrim had really taken place. They are only being reported in poetic language by the poet. Medieval dream visions differ from my theory of literature in that they presuppose a single supernal realm that is glimpsed in the visions, whereas for me each work gives access to a different realm.
Though dream visions are, it must be admitted, out of fashion, nevertheless several curious passages in certain great modernist authors and theorists quite surprisingly affirm one version or another of the concept of literature I have proposed. I shall cite and discuss five of these. This will