'Royal Roads' : the representation of dream in the modernism of H.D., Virginia Woolf and James Joyce
This thesis aims to establish the importance of dream in the fictions of H. D., Virginia
Woolf and James Joyce. By examining the emergent dream psychology at the turn of
the 20th century, I chart its impact on their writing, and in particular I explore the way in
which these writers are deeply resistant to the theories of Freud. I suggest that they
harbour what Harold Bloom has called an 'anxiety of influence' towards contemporary
psychoanalysts. I investigate their sense of rivalry, which is due partly to their parallel
venture of finding an adequate language and framework for representing the life of the
dream. I argue that these three writers' 'resistance' to psychoanalysis precipitates a
radical negotiation and transformation of the dream psychology of their milieu, which
they render in their fiction.
H. D., Woolf and Joyce search for a vision in which scienceand spirituality can
be united. Freud was criticised by these writers for his scientific and positivistic outlook,
which Jung had already articulated as 'psychology without the soul.' These writers are
on a quest to put the soul back into what they see as a materialist psychology, and
often look towards mystical phenomena to transcend the split that they discern. H. D.
epitomises this search in her admonition that she wishes to found a dream
psychoanalysisthat could embrace occult phenomena, which lay 'outside the province
of established psychoanalysis.'She was, of course referring to Freudian psychoanalysis,
but Jungian psychologywas amenable to this spirituality. This thesis also explores how
these three writers, unknown to themselves, beckon towards a Jungian dream
psychology, especially in their rendering of a collective unconsciousand use of mythical
I have named my thesis 'Royal Roads', after Freud's famous assertion that
'Dreams are the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.'
Yet this thesis maintains that H. D., Woolf and Joyce embody the modernist impulse to
'make it new', and thus embark on a journey of revisionism in which they create their
own 'royal roads' to the dream.