“Life is just a bowl of cherries…”*

*popular song with music by Ray Henderson and lyrics by Lew Brown, published in 1931.

From The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym (2021), by Paula Byrne:

“…Writing to Jock and the Harveys with renewed vigour, she told them that she was starting a new novel…Pym did not mention that the character based on Henry was a widower whose wife had recently died.

Her novel was about two sisters, Frances and Beatrice Wyatt…

When Beatrice returns to Oxford, she goes to tea at Elliston’s and trembles with excitement when she overhears Gerald’s voice. He bluntly asks her out to lunch. She notices every detail about him, a scratch on his chin, his dark red tie, his black hair and hazel eyes. The effect overall is of brightness. They begin a romantic affair. Beatrice is not at all troubled by having a relationship with an undergraduate; her only concern about the age gap is what other people, especially her outspoken sister, will say.

But there is another man in her life. An Oxford don called Henry Grainger. He is an old flame, whose wife, Eve, has recently died. When Henry married Eve, Beatrice bought herself an expensive black lace dress, her widow’s weeds. But now he is free. There is little need to point out the wish fulfilment in Pym’s story…

…Pym had begun notes for a spy novel in January 1940, but she was now ready to begin writing in earnest…

…The heroine, Cassandra Swan, is busy at the militia camp canteen, poaching eggs, cutting thick sandwiches and distributing tea out of a huge urn to the ever-hungry and thirsty servicemen…

…She puts her curiosity down to a subconscious ‘Freudian’ feeling linked to her state of spinsterhood. Cassandra has renounced sex and this young woman is selling it.
There are two characters based on Julian Amery: a young Balliol man called Hugh Fordyce, whom Cassandra thinks might one day be Secretary of State for India (the post Leo Amery would hold throughout the war),


and the older man, Adrian, the love of her life…

…Cynically, she imagines him comforting pensioners and cuddling babies. He is no longer, as she had once written in a poem for him, the ‘Jewel of Balliol and Eaton Square / United in him virtues all too rare’. Pym’s wish fulfilment is self-evident…

…Nevertheless, encouraged by (Philip) Larkin, she went back to The Sweet Dove Died and made all the changes he suggested. Pym poured out all her frustration, her embarrassment, and her humiliation at the hands of selfish Skipper…In a wish-fulfilment plot point, James does come crawling back to Leonora, but is rejected. Skipper, of course, did not come crawling back…”

From: The Interpretation of Dreams, by Sigmund Freud. Edited and translated by JamesStrachey. NY: Basic Books, 1955(1900) .

“…Though we think highly of the happiness of childhood because it is still innocent of sexual desires, we should not forget what a fruitful source of disappointment and renunciation, and conse­quently what a stimulus to dreaming, may be provided by the other of the two great vital instincts. Here is another instance of this. My nephew, aged 22 months, had been entrusted with the duty of congratulating me on my birthday and of presenting me with a basket of cherries, which are still scarcely in season at that time of year. He seems to have found the task a hard one, for he kept on repeating ‘Chewwies in it’ but could not be induced to hand the present over. However, he found a means of compensation. He had been in the habit every morning of telling his mother that he had a dream of the ‘white soldier’­ – a Guards officer in his white cloak whom he had once gazed at admiringly in the street. On the day after his birthday sacrifice he awoke with a cheerful piece of news, which could only have originated from a dream: ‘Hermann eaten all the chewwies!’
I do not myself know what animals dream of. But a proverb, to which my attention was drawn by one of my students, does claim to know. ‘What’, asks the proverb, ‘do geese dream of?’ And it replies: ‘Of maize.’

[Footnote added 1911:] A Hungarian proverb quoted by Ferenczi [1910] goes further and declares that ‘pigs dream of acorns and geese dream of maize’.-[Added 1914:] A Jewish proverb runs: ‘What do hens dream of?-Of millet.’ (Bernstein and Segel, 1908, 116.)

The whole theory that dreams are wish-fulfilments is contained in these two phrases.
It will be seen that we might have arrived at our theory of the hidden meaning of dreams most rapidly merely by following linguistic usage. It is true that common language sometimes speaks of dreams with contempt. (The phrase ‘Traume sind Schaume [Dreams are froth]’ seems intended to support the scientific estimate of dreams.) But, on the whole, ordinary usage treats dreams above all as the blessed fulfillers of wishes: if ever we find our expectation surpassed by the event, we exclaim in our delight: ‘I should never have imagined such a thing even in my wildest dreams.’”

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