A sinister totalitarian ministry called the Palace of Dreams recruits Mark-Alem to sort, classify, and interpret the dreams of the people in the empire, seeking the master-dreams that give clues to the empire's destiny. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published February 5th by Arcade Publishing first published More Details Original Title. Angelus Nominee Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about The Palace of Dreams , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. After all, what did it really matter if he did get lost? He was merely inside the Palace.
But still the thought of getting lost terrified him. How would he get through the night amid all these walls, these rooms, these cellars full of dreams and wild imaginings? Yes, a thousand times rather! He hurried on faster. How long had he been walking now? Suddenly he thought he hear a noise in the distance.
He went down another two or three steps and found himself in another corridor, which he deduced must be on the ground floor. The sound of voices faded for a few moments, then returned, nearer Mark-Alem was practically running by now, his eyes fixed on the end of the corridor, where a faint square of light came in from outside. Please, God.
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There are no signs directing people in the proper directions at the Palace of Dreams. Mark-Alem finds himself lost not only in the corridors of the Palace, but also in the hour upon hour day to day work of selecting and interpreting dreams. He is descended from a prominent family called the Quprilis.
They have contributed generations of powerful men to the Balkan Empire. If its chronicles included great dignitaries, secretaries of state, governors, and prime ministers, they also told how just as many members of the family had been imprisoned or decapitated or had simply vanished. After a few messy decapitations or quarterings these families eventually rise from the ashes sometimes those ashes are relatives and find that eventually the state has need of their services again. He is timid enough that he does not offer that information readily.
Of course when he is summoned to the Palace of Dreams to be offered a position they are very aware of who he is. He is assured he is the right sort of man. Instead of starting at the bottom he starts in the middle of the hierarchy. He moves up so quickly he barely has time to settle into one job before he is sent on to the next one.
Given the nature of the job which is to select dreams and interpret those dreams with the most important ones being sent to the Sultan to help him make decisions about the course of action he will take in running the empire you would think there would be a long and arduous training regime. There is not, at least not for Mark-Alem, but as the plot advances we start to get inklings that he is a pawn in a much bigger, much more dangerous game.
He is absolutely oblivious. He is too worried about his workload and whether his interpretations of these dreams are correct. He wears out erasures writing what he thinks and then becoming paralyzed with doubt as to how his superiors would interpret his thoughts.
The Palace of Dreams
Like any good bureaucrat he finds it is much safer to stifle any creativity and pass along the most bland, safest interpretations of the dreams he finds in his folder. Not that they need a reason to separate your head from your body, but certainly try not to hand it to them on a silver platter. The empire is ruled by dreams. Every dream, no matter how mundane, is required to be written down by every citizen in the realm. My luck somehow that would mean I was secretly plotting the downfall of the empire. These dreams are collected and hauled to the Palace of Dreams where they start the cycle of elimination of those dreams that are deemed worthless or fabricated mine and those that are thought to be important are pushed up the chain for further interpretation.
As Mark-Alem wanders around his work, usually trying to find a door and usually on the wrong floor to find it, he discovers that sometimes the dreamers are brought in for further questioning about a dream they submitted. The questioning must be rigorous because sometimes those dreamers leave in a black coffin. You're not paranoid if actually there are reasons to be paranoid. There is no sex in this book, barely a hint of desire. There is one moment where he passes a house where he knows two pretty sisters live and Mark-Alem might have felt a twitch or tingle, but other than that it seems as if the terror of his daily life is all consuming.
There is talk at the end of the book of an arranged married, but Mark-Alem is about as interested in the details as he is in catalogued Elephant stool samples. Ismail Kadare was in Albanian politics during the communist rule in the s. He wrote a satirical poem in that came to the attention of the government and he was punished by not being able to publish for three years. Kadare later said that the book was the price of his freedom. In when the Palace of Dreams is published the book is immediately banned.
Not a big surprise, dictatorships tend to not appreciate books that are Orwellian or Kafkaesque in nature. It seems to me that Kadare was fairly politically astute. He managed to be critical without getting himself killed. In he applied for asylum in France. Ismail Kadare: dissident against a dictatorship or did he collude to survive?
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Both I do believe and brilliantly in my opinion. This book is the English translation of the French translation of the Albanian version. I found myself as nervous, paranoid, and as frustrated as Mark-Alem in trying to figure out what really was going on. This is must read for those fans of Franz Kafka and George Orwell. View all 29 comments.
Shelves: favs , magical-and-surreal , albania , bookish-gems , read-in I wonder why so few people have read this novel, because it's quite amazing. I can't say that it's completely original, because it reminded me of Kafka The Castle and Saramago All the Names , but imagining an institution where people's dreams are analyzed Thus he begins his ascent to the top, although fearful and confused, never fully aware of what he is supposed to do. In this huge machinery of control, the dreams from all over the empire are gathered, sorted and analysed, in order to choose one Master Dream that is presented each Friday to the Sultan.
Dreams are believed to foretell important political events, thus being of utmost importance to the Empire. We follow Mark-Alem's journey through the mysterious Palace of Dreams, with its nightmarish passages where he usually gets lost, with the thousands of dreams stacked away in its huge underground archive, with the kafkian beaurocracy and the strange happenings that make people paranoid.
Without realising, Mark-Alem becomes an active part in the events that will unfold in the story, bringing misfortune to his family. Absorbed in the world of dreams, Mark-Alem comes to believe that this is the real world, powerful and vivid, while the reality outside gradually becomes gray, dull and less and less attractive.
He gets more and more isolated, his relatives remaining his only connection to the earthly world. He seems oblivious to any romantic relationship and the only mention of a possible wife comes from his uncles, but we don't ever get to know the girl. View all 5 comments. Jul 02, john Adams rated it it was amazing Shelves: reviewed. Karade is an Albanian and I would argue that the Palace of Dreams belongs to the long and productive tradition of subversive communist literature that cleverly disguises its critique in a novel about the fantastic.
Karade's subversion isn't so disguised; it kind of hits in the face, but he's Albanian and not a Russian and he lives in France, but the novel is of this type. The Palace of Dreams is a monolithic government agency that feels like it comes out of Orwell or the movie Brazil. The agency's mission is to gather and interpret the dreams of all the citizens.
The protagonist, Mark-Alem, gets assigned to a mid-level position in Selection. The job of Selection is to to choose the dreams that are worthy of Interpretation from those that are garbage. Mark-Alem starts at a mid-level position because his family is second in the land only to the Sultan the book is set in the Ottoman Empire, but this time period is of little consequence. The Palace itself feels like Kafka's The Castle. It is a labyrinth in which Mark-Alem is constantly lost and he winds up turning corners to find himself face to face with busy bureaucrats and big desks.
As he spends his time in Selection more of the Palace is revealed. It is by design mysterious. Everyone works at their position but few know to what end. It is revealed to him that there is a Master Dream that is of interest to the Sultan. The Master Dream has something to do with major political events, such as assassinations and wars and has existed and interpreted for hundreds of years. After more of the Palace is revealed, Mark-Alem goes to work one day and finds himself promoted into the division of Interpretation.
In Interpretation he reads several dreams and in particular one he choose earlier from Selection to be interpreted. Little of the dream is discussed, but it has to do with a bridge, a raging bull, and a fire. In a nut shell, the story follows the life of Mark-Alem as a bureaucrat in the Palace.
He works, he has coffee breaks, he files papers, and he discusses his work with his family despite the fact that he is supposed to be secretive. Underlying the Palace and the prose is a tension. Everyone works, but because they do not know to what end and because they are forced to be secretive, everyone is paranoid and second guesses their selections and interpretations. Then one day it all changes. His family is raided by the secret Police. Their servants are killed and his Uncle is arrested.
Mark-Alem feels his family may know why, but he is left in the dark. He goes to work the next day and the Palace is a buzz in whispered gossip. The bureaucrats all talk of what happened to Mark-Alem's family. The next day there is retaliation. Mark-Alem's family, second in the nation, has retaliated in assignations and political moves.
Mark-Alem finds him again promoted, but his time into a directors position. As a director he has the access to research what has happened. He discovers that the dream he Selected and Interpreted was a part of the Master Dream and predicted a power struggle between his family and the Sultan. His family would gain power at the cost of his Uncle's life. He wonders if it was a coincidence that he is now a man in power or that if he were set up to be handed the Master Dream and raised to Interpret it as such.
He wonders and he waits, for he knows one day the secret police will come and take him. Until that time he continues to work. Mark-Alem's life is directionless, mundane, and worst all he waits in ignorance of a when horrible future will catch up to him. I think that having the knowledge that the future will be 'bad' but not knowing when or how is one of the worst feelings of all time.
It creates anticipation and expectation and these feelings are often more powerful than the reality itself. At the same time, Mark-Alem's life is mundane and pointless. He is not waiting for death by living an exciting fun life, he is waiting for death by barely getting by in isolation and paranoia.
It is a hell, a very modern and distinct vision. The only critique I could offer is that this reality of hell is present, but that the emotion behind those feelings isn't well captured. The book is not character driven, but setting driven. But I don't consider this a bad thing, but a good choice. The setting, The Palace of Dreams is ultra cool. The prose is quick and fun. Together those elements make this a fun book to read. The result is that Karade captures a modern hell in a fun way, and that makes this a really great book.
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Kadare's metaphor for a monolithic police state and its workings. Set in the late 19th century Ottoman Empire--I figured this out from several subtle hints in the novel--along with elements from the late 20th century, this novel tells of a young man, Mark Alem, who is employed by the Palace of Dreams, the author's surreal intelligence agency, where dreams from all over the empire are collected, sorted, interpreted, with an eye to discovering which might be a "Master-Dream" pointing to a possible Kadare's metaphor for a monolithic police state and its workings.
Set in the late 19th century Ottoman Empire--I figured this out from several subtle hints in the novel--along with elements from the late 20th century, this novel tells of a young man, Mark Alem, who is employed by the Palace of Dreams, the author's surreal intelligence agency, where dreams from all over the empire are collected, sorted, interpreted, with an eye to discovering which might be a "Master-Dream" pointing to a possible coup or other upheaval in the State.
When one is discovered, the sultan's secret police can nip a possible plot in the bud and do away with any perpetrators. Mark Alem starts out in the Selection Department and passes along a file containing what he feels might be a possibly incriminating dream: a wasteland filled with garbage, a musical instrument, a rampaging bull, and a bridge. When he is promoted to the Interpretation Section, he is faced with the very same dream. We don't know his final interpretation, but agents from the Master Dream Section become very busy A chilling and nightmarish novel, reminiscent of Kafka--the claustrophobic, labyrinthine corridors of the Palace are evoked frighteningly.
Mark-Alem must find his way from one department to another alone, hoping for help. On his day off, he notices how pale and insipid the real world has become as compared with the inner lives of people in the Palace. Very highly recommended. I'd advise reading the author's Three-Arched Bridge first if possible to get some backstory. The unique idea at the heart of this story is instantly intriguing.
Mark-Alem, scion of the powerful Quprili family, is given a job at a prestigious institution: the Tabir Sarrail, or Palace of Dreams. Transcriptions of citizens' dreams are collected here in their thousands, then pored over, analysed and interpreted for indications that they contain some divine prediction, a message of glory or doom for the Empire. The eventual aim of this mammoth task is to identify the 'Master-Dream', the mo The unique idea at the heart of this story is instantly intriguing.
The eventual aim of this mammoth task is to identify the 'Master-Dream', the most meaningful and portentous of them all, which is delivered to the Sultan on a weekly basis. Unsurprisingly, the novel has often been compared to the works of Orwell and Kafka. Mark-Alem's job is bureaucratic yet bizarre, and cloaked in so much mystery that at first, he doesn't even know what he's supposed to be doing, or the way around the vast Palace, or what all the oddly-named departments do. There are recurring scenes in which he wanders the corridors, lost and disorientated.
Parallels are drawn between being swallowed up by this place and the experience of sleep - or even death. Having become accustomed to its strange ways, Mark-Alem finds real life comparatively insipid: 'the whole world seemed to have lost all its colour, as if after a long illness How tedious, grasping and confined this world seemed in comparison with the one he now served! At times he marks them at random, and it's this cavalier approach to the task that ultimately brings about the plot's bloody climax.
Its meaning as a political allegory is clear, but the novel is always equally enjoyable as an imaginative often quite suspenseful story. Had this been a smoother read, my rating would be higher, as I really liked the story. However, I thought it had a stilted and awkward feel all the way through, and I'm convinced this can only be the result of it having been translated twice - this English version is not translated directly from the original Albanian, but from the the French edition. There were a couple of unusual recurring phrases that really jarred, and seemed like inaccurate choices; certain words were repeated with irritating frequency.
I found all of this really offputting and I'm afraid it also makes me less likely to read more Kadare though I'd first need to establish whether all of them have been through the weird Albanian-French-English treatment. View 2 comments. Sep 01, Ruqaiya Said rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Noor al zubaidy.
Shelves: extraordinary , favorites. I put this book down in complete awe. I remember feeling the same when I put down Chronicle in Stone. Kadare is an amazing writer. The Palace of Dreams like most of Kadare's work is political. It talks about the "Tabir Sarail", a secret government agency under the watchful eyes of a totalitarian government that specializes in analyzing dreams of the citizens. The main character, Mark- Alem belongs to the influential Quprili family who have had their share of political trials and tribulations ove I put this book down in complete awe.
The main character, Mark- Alem belongs to the influential Quprili family who have had their share of political trials and tribulations over the yeas. He is however not in the least bit interested in pursuing a political career. Ironically, he is sucked into the very political whirlpool he has always avoided and that his mother sought to protect him from over the years. Don't be fooled by the synopsis of the book, this is no fast paced thriller.
Yet, Kadare manages to keep you interested the whole time with the calm narrative,mellifluous prose and of course what he does with the topic of dream analysis and interpretation. How he does this, I have absolutely no idea. The man is a genius,and although this might be impetuous of me to say considering I haven't read ALL his work, why on earth hasn't he received the Nobel prize yet??!!!
Some of my favorite quotes are: "Yes, of course there were risks, but they were of dream dangers in a world of dreams- the very world the Ancients used to wish to be transported to when they were in trouble and cried," Oh God, let it be only a dream" "In those files was all the sleep in the world, an ocean of terror on the vast surface of which they tried to find some tiny signs or signals.
Hapless wretches that we are! There- he smiled inwardly as if at some precious secret- there, in his files, all was so different, so beautiful, so full of imagination The colors of the clouds, the trees,the snow, the bridges, the chimneys, the birds- all were so much more vivid and strong.
And the movement of people and things was freer and more graceful, like stags running the mist, defying the laws of space and time! How tedious,grasping , and confined this world seemed in comparison with the one he now served! To all intents and purposes it covered the sleep of the entire planet- terrible and infinite shadows, a bottomless abyss from which Mark- Alem was trying to dredge up a few fragments of truth. Hypnos himself, the Greek god of sleep, couldn't have known more than he did about dreams. Mar 31, Louise rated it it was amazing Shelves: eastern-eur-fic-lit , fiction.
In this spare novel Ismail Kadare creates a metaphor for the police state. A young distaff scion of a family powerful enough to rival the leaders of Ottoman Empire is given a job in the Palace of Dreams. Here, a huge machinery gathers the dreams from around the Empire. It copies, sorts, interprets, sifts and archives them. Just as a thought police thrives on rumor and innuendo, so does the Palace. The power struggles of the mighty, are not discussed or understood even among the intimates of the p In this spare novel Ismail Kadare creates a metaphor for the police state.
The power struggles of the mighty, are not discussed or understood even among the intimates of the participants, but are palpable throughout the empire and very keenly felt at the Palace of Dreams. Kadare demonstrates how the fear of the unknown paralyzes bystanders and how participants keep everyone in the dark. While this book is over 15 years old, I had not heard of it or its author.
I found it through an Amazon reviewer whose interests run parallel to mine. This book and perhaps the author-I'll have to read more Kadare should be on academic reading lists along with the works of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. Jul 12, Alta added it. The Palace of Dreams, written in Tirana between and , takes us into an entirely different universe set at the fictitious crossroads of a 20th century dictatorship and the 14th century Ottoman Empire.
The Palace of Dreams incorporates the traits of all powerful secret institutions—one cannot help think of the Sigurimi, the Albanian Secret Police of the Communist era—as well as the characteristics of an almost Totemic figure, a Kafkaesque Castle whose rules no one can figure out. Kadare himself has declared that this is probably his best novel from a literary standpoint, and very likely his most courageous, an opinion the Albanian Communist regime must have agreed with, considering that shortly after its release the novel was banned.
Thus, at the end of the novel, one of the dreams that the main character, Mark-Alem Quprili, who works at the Palace, sorted and filed at the beginning of the novel, makes an unexpected appearance, literally acting upon the present and causing the drama the reader has been anticipating all along. Dec 26, Sonsoles rated it it was ok Shelves: fantasy , politics.
At the begining, the complicated description of the Tabir Saray and how it works was so delightful, the idea of compilate all the dreams and trying to find the meaning is great, the complicated society, government and the way of working reminded me to George Orwell The powerful family wich the main character has is also very interesting. The atmosphere of the book i it has disappointed me The atmosphere of the book is dark, with a touch of thrill Mark Alem, the main character, is always afraid, scared, in the beginning is easy to feel pity for him, afterwards everything changes and several issues have lack of sense, the so fine descriptions and well writen pages turn into a precipitated finish by Kadare, just like he didn't feel to keep writing this book, like if he got bored of it and didn't have the feeling of gifting a good end to it.
Feb 26, Philippe Malzieu rated it it was amazing. Why some writers express the plenitude of their talent while resisting a totalitarian mode? Why we have the impression they lose their talent when they live in democracy? I met him a few years ago in a Bookstore. I bought his new book that I did not like and I had told him that in any event, his best book was "The Why some writers express the plenitude of their talent while resisting a totalitarian mode?
I bought his new book that I did not like and I had told him that in any event, his best book was "The Palace of dream". He was raised,shaked my hand and said " Dear Sir, you're right. A totalitarian state wants to be all to control its inhabitants. Only space of freedom is dreamed.
One attends the supreme stage of totalitarianism or a state wants to control dreamed. Itis a remarkably written tale, a mastepiece of the political book of the same level as Orwell. Feb 10, Nema Al-Araby rated it it was amazing. I love love love this novel, it's definitely one of my fave ever!
I admire novels that talk about dreams and their interpretation. And because I believe in conspiracy, this even made the novel greater. I loved several quotes, the language was very poetic and wise. I truly admire Kadare for this masterpiece! Oct 04, Caitlin rated it it was amazing. This dystopic novel in some ways works much better than George Orwell's , which had Gregory Zamyatin's "We" as its predecessor.
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It is a more original work than and is delightfully written. A powerful and important critique of totalitarian regimes. Kadare, an Albanian, wrote the Palace of Dreams as a critique of Tito's Yugoslavia, but it can be applied to all hegemonic states. The Palace of Dreams has been translated in numerous languages. Other notable translations of the novel include:. Shirin Neshat , an acclaimed New York City -based Iranian visual artist , has expressed interest to turn The Palace of Dreams into a film, using the novel to explore "the beautiful parallel" between Albania 's "dark history and struggle with communism and the Iranian plight with the Islamic revolution.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Palace of Dreams Cover of Arcade 's edition. The New Yorker. Retrieved 18 August The Independent. Albanian Literature: A Short History. London: I. In Kadare, Ismail ed. Retrieved 13 August Works by Ismail Kadare. Hidden categories: Articles containing Albanian-language text All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from August Namespaces Article Talk.