Click to Subscribe
▶  More from Blog A Well of Heroes REH Dream
Dream
A Mythic Dimension in Fiction


"The conviction was growing that I had experienced all this before; it was like living an episode forewarned in a dream."

-For the love of Barbara Allen

In the passage above Howard writes of blood memory, of ghost-affirming dreams passed down through the blood of our ancestors that well up and inform us, that permit our predecessors to communicate with us across the ages. Very often such sequences in Howard's fiction are linked to the protagonist's race. But not all. Much of Howard's dreamscape is tapped into by characters who might fall asleep in a certain place, a haunted intersection of time, space and race. Even when there is a site-based conduit for the transmission of dreams, the dream is very often a projection from an extinct race whose collective ego seeps up from the timeless well of dreams to inform their temporal successors.

In Queen of the Black Coast Conan falls asleep beneath a wicked plant and is transported by way of the dimension of dreams to view a past civilizations, the ruins of which he had stumbled through like an errant child. Once awakened, he is now armed against the lingering horrors of that age that yet stalk the world of men.

In The Phoenix on the Sword Conan slumbers as an alien usurper king within the chamber of another ancient race as killers seek to creep upon him in the night. He is then warned in a well-articulated dream by a long dead wise man, for Conan occupies the Throne of this people's place and so rates another race's ghostly attention.

In Howard's imagined worlds—from pre-cataclysmic Atlantis to modern America—the dimension of dreams supersedes all; no cataclysm extinguishes it, the death of a race does not nullify its message, no palace walls are protection against it's penetrating glare, no wild land is without its ghostly song, no savage race escapes its claws, and even eons and gulfs beyond the original dreamer's wildest comprehension may not cut off the needful sleeper from the source of all myth. The worlds of Robert E. Howard are certainly of the dream, but they themselves and their imagined heroes yet dreamed as well.

Add Comment