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The Oracle of Night

Best Seller
The Oracle of Night by Sidarta Ribeiro
Hardcover $32.50
Aug 17, 2021 | ISBN 9781524746902

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  • Aug 17, 2021 | ISBN 9781524746902

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A Jabuti Award Finalist for Best “Brazilian Book Published Abroad”

“A sweeping account as tangled and chaotic—and fascinating—as the dreams themselves . . . It reinfuses the dreamscape with beauty, mystery and significance . . . The Oracle of Night takes a breakneck journey through history, from cave paintings and the ancient Greeks to Celtic myths, Egyptian pharaohs, Gilgamesh and Julius Caesar. The text, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn, moves fluidly from systemic historiography to guesswork and lighthearted extrapolation . . . The result is a curiously hybridized book, at times playful, at times intensely scientific . . . Poetic and visceral.”
—The Wall Street Journal

The Oracle of Night makes a resounding case for the mystery, beauty and cognitive importance of dreams . . . This book is the culmination of decades of thought and collaborative work. It’s also the expression of remarkable, if sometimes all-over-the-map, scholarship, drawing on history, literature, biology, anthropology, neuroscience, sociology and psychology, among other disciplines . . . [Ribeiro’s] lyrical account is aided by Daniel Hahn’s beautiful translation from the Portuguese . . . You can’t help being awed and enchanted by the wonder with which Ribeiro approaches his subject, by the depth of his knowledge and passion.”
—The New York Times
“[Ribeiro] explores hypotheses about the evolutionary value of sleep to humans, presenting a fascinating analysis of the debate about the relationship between sleep and cognitive ability . . . concluding, among other things, that nap rooms would be a valuable addition to school environments.”
Publishers Weekly
“A comprehensive consideration of the sleeping mind . . . [Ribeiro] offers a capacious examination of the phenomenon of dreaming. The author draws on biology, chemistry, neurophysiology, anthropology, mythology, history, literature, biography, and art—along with myriad examples of dream narratives—to create a rich history of the human mind . . . A stimulating and informative overview.”
Kirkus Reviews
“A groundbreaking history of the human mind told through our experience of dreams—from the earliest accounts to current scientific findings—and the essential role of dreams in the formation of who we are and the world we have made.”
Next Big Idea Club

Table Of Contents

1. Why Do We Dream? 3

2. The Ancestral Dream 30

3. From Living Gods to Psychoanalysis 59

4. Unique Dreams and Typical Dreams 77

5. First Images 99

6. The Evolution of Dreaming 114

7. The Biochemistry of Dreams 129

8. Madness Is a Dream One Dreams Alone 145

9. Sleeping and Remembering 159

10. The Reverberation of Memories 174

11. Genes and Memes 198

12. Sleeping to Create 216

13. REM Sleep Isn’t Dreaming 247

14. Desires, Emotions, and Nightmares 267

15. The Probabilistic Oracle 289

16. Missing the Dead, and the Inner World of Culture 320

17. Does Dreaming Have a Future? 332

18. Dreaming and Destiny 348

Epilogue 379

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