The Palace Of Dreams
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The Palace Of Dreams

3.95 (1,777 ratings by Goodreads)
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Translated by Barbara Bray from the French version of the Albanian by Jusuf Vrioni At the heart of the Sultan's vast empire stands the mysterious Palace of Dreams. Inside, the dreams of every citizen are collected, sorted and interpreted in order to identify the 'master-dreams' that will provide the clues to the Empire's destiny and that of its Monarch. An entire nation's consciousness is thus meticulously laid bare and at the mercy of its government... The Palace of Dreams is Kadare's macabre vision of tyranny and oppression, and was banned upon publication in Albania in 1981.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 130 x 196 x 14mm | 158.76g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • Vintage Classics
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0099518279
  • 9780099518273
  • 122,914

About Ismail Kadare

Ismail Kadare, born in 1936 in the mountain town of Gjirokaster, near the Greek border, is Albania's best-known poet and novelist. Since the appearance of The General of the Dead Army in 1965, Kadare has published scores of stories and novels that make up a panorama of Albanian history linked by a constant meditation on the nature and human consequences of dictatorship. His works brought him into frequent conflict with the authorities from 1945 to 1985. In 1990 he sought political asylum in France, and now divides his time between Paris and Tirana. He is the winner of the first ever Man Booker International Prize.show more

Review quote

"Kadare's most daring novel, one of the most complete visions of totalitarianism ever committed to paper" * Vanity Fair * "If there is a book worth banning in a dictatorship, this is it" * Guardian * "Kadare's delicately misted view of another world (as much internal as totalitarian) lives up to the splendour of his title" * Independent on Sunday * "Inexorably takes your breath away" * Herald *show more

Back cover copy

'Kadare's most daring novel, one of the most complete visions of totalitarianism ever committed to paper' Vanity Fair At the heart of the Sultan's vast empire stands the mysterious Palace of Dreams. Inside, the dreams of every citizen are collected, sorted and interpreted in order to identify the 'master-dreams' that will provide the clues to the Empire's destiny and that of its Monarch. An entire nation's consciousness is thus meticulously laid bare and at the mercy of its government... The Palace of Dreams is Kadare's macabre vision of tyranny and oppression, and was banned upon publication in Albania in 1981. See also: Broken Aprilshow more

Review Text

"Inexorably takes your breath away"show more

Rating details

1,777 ratings
3.95 out of 5 stars
5 33% (585)
4 37% (659)
3 24% (421)
2 5% (95)
1 1% (17)

Our customer reviews

I could compare Kadare to both Kafka and Orwell (and I would not be the first to do so), as this novel has both the surreal, nightmarish quality of The Trial and the social and political weight of Orwell's 1984. The novel allegorises a totalitarian police state though a bizarre, nightmarish bureaucracy in the form of the 'Tabir Sarrail' - the Palace of Dreams. The story is set in the 'United Ottoman States,' yet its culture and politics more closely resemble that of socialist eastern Europe; there is no sense of the exotic one might associate with the Ottoman empire. At the Palace, the dreams of each of the state's inhabitants are recorded, sorted, interpreted and analysed, with the purpose of identifying and anticipating any threats to the security of the vast empire. It's a horrifyingly extreme form of surveillance and control enforced by a state institution. The protagonist is Mark-Alem, and it is through his eyes that we are shown both the terror and the ridiculousness of the system. Mark-Alem gets lost countless times while working in the Palace, as he tries to navigate his way between the various departments and sections: '... it took him nearly half an hour to get to the basement. Now what? he wondered when he found himself alone in a long vaulted passage ... Whatever happened he was bound to find his way out, as he had done the other times. He was used to this kind of misadventure now. As he walked along he discovered that the circular passage was crossed by others of varying widths, but he didn't dare go along any of them for fear of getting lost. After half an hour it seemed to him he was back where he started from.' And yet with infinite patience, or simply a lack of will to question the status quo, Mark-Alem progresses his career through the ranks of the palace. It is through Mark-Alem's career success that the tension in the novel is developed, as he has to balance his role as a functionary of the state against his desire to reconnect with his ethnic Albanian background.show more
by Lilla Smee
Just when you thought it safe to dream, Albanian writer, Ismail Kadare, shatters that illusion with his haunting exposé of totalitarianism, The Palace of Dreams. Kadare is in the elite company of George Orwell (1984), Aldous Huxley (Brave New World), and Arthur Koestler (Darkness at Noon). Kadare paints a chilling landscape centred on an intrusive organism of state, dedicated to the interpretation of dreams across an empire. An empire committed to Freud's view that wish fulfillment motivates dreams. A paranoid regime committed to a central tenet: "For in the nocturnal realm of sleep are to be found both the light and the darkness of humanity, its honey and its poison, its greatness and its vulnerability. All that is murky and harmful, or that will become so in a few years or centuries, makes its first appearance in men's dreams." As Kadare notes, "Anyone who ruled over the dark zones of men's lives wielded enormous power." Welcome to a waking nightmare.show more
by Robert Davis
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