© 2018

Sleep and the Novel

Fictions of Somnolence from Jane Austen to the Present


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vii
  2. Michael Greaney
    Pages 1-36
  3. Michael Greaney
    Pages 141-178
  4. Michael Greaney
    Pages 209-217
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 219-228

About this book


Sleep and the Novel is a study of representations of the sleeping body in fiction from 1800 to the present day which traces the ways in which novelists have engaged with this universal, indispensable -- but seemingly nondescript -- region of human experience. Covering the narrativization of sleep in Austen, the politicization of sleep in Dickens, the queering of sleep in Goncharov, the aestheticization of sleep in Proust, and the medicalization of sleep in contemporary fiction, it examines the ways in which novelists envision the figure of the sleeper, the meanings they discover in human sleep, and the values they attach to it. It argues that literary fiction harbours, on its margins, a “sleeping partner”, one that we can nickname the Schlafroman or “sleep-novel”, whose quiet absorption in the wordlessness and passivity of human slumber subtly complicates the imperatives of self-awareness and purposive action that traditionally govern the novel. 


Charles Dickens Ivan Goncharov Marcel Proust Schlafroman Critical sleep studies Insomnia Jane Austen Sleep and the novel

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English and Creative WritingLancaster UniversityLancasterUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Michael Greaney is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing, Lancaster University, UK. He is the author of Conrad, Language and Narrative (2001) and Contemporary Fiction and the Uses of Theory (2006). He has published widely on sleep studies, and is one of the co-founders of the website ‘Sleep Cultures’, an online hub for humanities scholars working in the field of sleep studies. 

Bibliographic information


“With Sleep and the Novel, Michael Greaney makes a valuable contribution to an under-researched area of the novel and makes a good case for ways in which attention to sleep—and expressly not dream sleep—might, despite its marginal position in narrative, have wider-ranging effects on our reading. … Fluent, attentive, and engaging, this is a book that deserves to be read.” (Stephen Thomson, The Review of English Studies, September, 2018)