What We Are Reading Today: Insomniac Dreams by Vladimir Nabokov

Updated 05 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Insomniac Dreams by Vladimir Nabokov

On Oct. 14, 1964, Vladimir Nabokov, a lifelong insomniac, began a curious experiment. 

Over the next 80 days, immediately upon waking, he wrote down his dreams, following the instructions in An Experiment with Time by British philosopher John Dunne. The purpose was to test the theory that time may go in reverse, so that a later event may generate an earlier dream. The result—published here for the first time—is a fascinating diary in which Nabokov recorded 64  dreams (and subsequent daytime episodes) on 118 index cards, providing a rare glimpse of the artist at his most private.

 Insomniac Dreams presents the text of Nabokov’s dream experiment, illustrated with a selection of his original index cards, and provides rich annotations and analysis that put them in the context of his life and writings.


What We Are Reading Today: Crossing the Pomerium by Michael Koortbojian

Updated 23 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Crossing the Pomerium by Michael Koortbojian

The ancient Romans famously distinguished between civic life in Rome and military matters outside the city — a division marked by the pomerium, an abstract religious and legal boundary that was central to the myth of the city’s foundation. 

Michael Koortbojian explores how the Romans used social practices and public monuments to assert their capital’s distinction from its growing empire, to delimit the proper realms of religion and law from those of war and conquest, and to establish and disseminate so many fundamental Roman institutions across three centuries of imperial rule. Crossing the Pomerium probes such topics as the appearance in the city of Romans in armor, whether in representation or in life, the role of religious rites on the battlefield, and the military image of Constantine on the arch built in his name. 

The book reveals how, in these instances and others, the ancient ideology of crossing the pomerium reflects the efforts of Romans not only to live up to the ideals they had inherited, but also to reconceive their past and to validate contemporary practices during a time when Rome enjoyed growing dominance in the Mediterranean world.