‘Observed, Measured, Contained’: Contemporary Fiction and the Science of Sleep

  • Michael Greaney


This chapter examines a cluster of recent texts, including Jonathan Coe’s The House of Sleep (1997), William Boyd’s Armadillo (1998), Ralph Cohen’s Inspired Sleep (2002), David Foster Wallace’s ‘Oblivion’ (2004) and Alison MacLeod’s The Wave Theory of Angels (2005), that have taken inspiration—albeit often of a decidedly negative kind—from the discoveries, institutions, practices and discourses of contemporary sleep science. These texts are evidence of an emerging and indeed flourishing subgenre in contemporary fiction, one that we can call ‘sleep-science fiction’, a subgenre that despite its fascination with the hi-tech world of the sleep laboratory is conspicuously nostalgic for natural, pre-technological and ‘unplugged’ forms of human slumber.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Greaney
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of English and Creative WritingLancaster UniversityLancasterUK

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