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The Palace Of Dreams [Paperback]

Ismail Kadare , Barbara Bray
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Aug 2001

At the heart of the Sultan's vast but fragile empire stands the mysterious Palace of Dreams: the most secret and powerful Ministry ever invented. Its task is to scour every town, village and hamlet to collect the citizens' dreams, then to sift, sort and classify them, and ultimately to interpret them, in order to identify the "master-dreams" that will provide the clues to the Empire's destinies and those of its Monarch. An entire nation's consciousness is thus tapped into and meticulously laid bare in the form of images and symbols of the dreaming mind.

Kadare's Palace of Dreams stands as the symbol of the thought-police who have, through history, been the most effective instruments of oppression at the service of dictators.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Press; New edition edition (31 Aug 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860464106
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860464102
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,741,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


""Kadare's most daring novel, one of the most complete visions of totalitarianism ever committed to paper" Jean-Christophe Castelli, Vanity Fair"

""If there is a book worth banning in a dictatorship, this is it" Julian Evans, Guardian"

""Kadare's delicately misted view of another world (as much internal as totalitarian) lives up to the splendour of his title" Julian Duplain, Independent on Sunday"

Book Description

A novel which arose from the author's ambition to invent a hell of his own, Kadare's macabre vision of tyranny and oppression was banned immediately when it first appeared in Albania in 1981.

Translated by Barbara Bray from the French version of the Albanianby Jusuf Vrioni

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come.
Ismail Kadare's "The Palace of Dreams" is a book that reads like Kafka as influenced by the painter M.C. Escher with a bit of "1001 Arabian Nights" thrown in for good measure.
Ismail Kadare is an Albanian poet and writer. He is also the winner of the first Man Booker International Prize in 2005 and was selected from a list of nominees that included Saul Bellow, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Naguib Mahfouz, Milan Kundera, and Gunter Grass. The Palace of Dreams is one of his best known, many say best, work.
"Palace of Dreams" is set some time in the 19th-century in an Islamic-ruled Ottoman Empire that includes the Balkans (including Kadare's native Albania). The Palace of the title is a mammoth office building where the dreams of everyone in the kingdom are submitted for analysis. It is a Byzantine bureaucracy whose complexity is matched only by the dark, complex hallways and byways of the building itself. The Sultanate considers the dreams of his subjects to contain clues to the future. Like an oracle of Delphi, dreams are interpreted to predict plots against the Sultan or threat to the Empire generally. The interpretation of dreams is a powerful tool used to run the Empire and control its citizens and as a result the Palace of Dreams is the most feared agency in existence.
Into the Palace of Dreams steps a young new employee, Mark-Alem. Mark-Alem is a member of the Quprili family. The Quprilis are a powerful family of Albanian origin. For generations the family has produced high-ranking Viziers, the approximate equivalent of Cabinet Ministers, to the Sultan. Although a powerful family the Quprili's relationship over the years with various Sultans has been rocky and has been marked by purges and bitter in-fighting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For people who enjoy dystopian dictatorships 11 Aug 2010
The book follows Mark-Alem, a member of the Quprilis, a very important family in an Empire under a totalitarian regime, who starts working in the Tabir Sarrail. Known as the Palace of Dreams, the Tabir Sarrail is a kind of government department that catalogues and interprets all the dreams that the people report as the dreams sometimes include prophecies. As Mark-Alem rises in the Palace's hierarchy, he learns about its purpose, the most important one being the choice and interpretation of the Master-Dream, one which has consequences to the state or its rulers and for that is presented directly to the state's Sovereign, the Sultan.
The story is always told from Mark-Alem's point of view, and the reader learns everything as he does, understanding the event as they unravel around him. In the beginning, the author seems to concentrate in making the reader understand Mark-Alem, his thoughts, his habits, his insecurities, his family and his work. But after a while, the plot thickens as it focuses on the relationships between the Quprili family and the Tabir Sarrail, as Mark-Alem himself starts to understand what happens inside the Palace of Dreams, building up to the moment where he understands how far the rulers will go acting solely on what has been interpreted in a dream. Kadare still keeps a surprise to the very end of the book, which you may predict if you were paying attention to the details all the way from the very beginning.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality, unreality, surrealism 30 May 2007
By Flembo
Kadare succeeds in this novel by weaving together the fabrics of nightmarish surrealism and the reflections of a trapped subject to portray the fear and paranoia generated by a communistic ideal, his own world.

This is classic Kadare, creating both apprehension and anticipation. A haunting allegory which leaves you questioning the boundaries where real meets surreal.

An excellent read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Somnolent. 25 Aug 2014
I appreciate that a story about a (past) regime's fear revealed in the mass scrutiny of dreams might be challenging enough to ban and respect to those who lived in late communist times.

However, potential reader, be aware this is no 1984, nor One Day in the Life, nor Kafka, nor Angela Carter, nor Peake. A very slight plot with more tedium than menace. Disappointed.
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