12mo (137 x 84 mm). 12 pp. Drop-title. Stab-stitched in original blue printed wrappers. Modern folding moroco-backed chemise and slipcase.***
A late chapbook incarnation of Vulson de La Colombière’s treatise on dream interpretation (first published 1660), this pocket-sized alphabetical list of dreams and their meanings had a practical purpose, being sold as an aid for the selection of lottery numbers (but see below).
The association of dreams and lottery numbers derived from the Italian smorfia tradition, which linked (and still does) the lottery and its numbers to dreams and the occult. The word smorfia refers to keys associating dreams with winning numbers (also sometimes called cabala) and by extension to the ephemeral publications containing these keys. “A feature of the Italian lottery throughout its history is the intense interest in occult methods of predicting the winning numbers. Foremost is the smorfia — a slang word meaning a wry grimace but also having overtones associated with the dream god Morpheus, son of Hypnos, God of Sleep....“ (Adrian Seville, History Today, Vol. 49, no. 3, March 1999)
In this brief pamphlet, the connection with the lottery is indicated by a list of the 27 “most commonly pulled” lottery numbers printed at the end. (Oddly, all end in either 3, 7, or 9.) The dream descriptions, however, provide no lottery numbers. These highly abbreviated one-or-two-line summaries are simply followed by a verbal description of their degree and type of luck or lack of it, or their meaning. Thus “to dream of being a tree” portends illness, “kissing a dead person” promises long life, though just kissing anyone signifies trouble. Arranged by keyword, the list covers an impressive range of dream subjects: seeing oneself swimming in the sea (loss and harm), having long teeth (trouble from one’s parents), dreaming that one is a doctor (good luck), hearing bells ringing (signifies honor with boredom!), etc.
The attribution to the Caen chapbook printer/publishers Pierre-Jean-Aimé and Théodore Chalopin was made by René Helot, who found several copies of the pamphlet in the Chalopin archives. OCLC locates 2 copies, at the BnF and the Newberry. Cf. Helot, La Bibliothèque bleue en Normandie (1928), 245. Item #2712b