Other Writings by Ross Lockridge, Jr.


--Letters--The Dream of the Flesh of Iron--Rhapsody in Words--On John Dos Passos--On Thomas Wolfe--

--Facsimiles of Notes on James Joyce--Sept. 1942, and Spring 1943--


The Dream Section to Raintree County

(An Unpublished "Vol. V" of Raintree County)

--On The Dream Section, from: SHADE OF THE RAINTREE, by Larry Lockridge. This has links to referenced selections.

--Information and selections from THE DREAM SECTION

--An Outline of "The Dream," by Ross Lockridge, Jr.

Selections of Letters

Ross Lockridge, Jr. LETTERS from Paris, 1933-4 (age 19-20):

The "idea-genesis of Raintree County"-- A brief history with transcription of letter: April 30, 1934 "I'm now installed at my new residence, 4bis Rue d'Ulm, Paris...." Facsimiles, Ap30, 1934 p. 1  (151 k) p. 2 (151 k)

Oct 8, 1933 p1, 2 - "Before I give you the latest developments along the European front . . . ."

Oct. 23, 1933 p1, 2 - "I write this letter in the gray of Paris morning . . . ."

Nov. 3, 1933 p1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - "This is going to be a huge letter . . . ."

Nov. 19, 1933 p1, 2, 3, 4 - "Work at the Sorbonne now promises to be very exacting . . . ."

Feb. 10, 1934 p1, 2, 3, 4 - "Have you felt any alarm over the exasperated condition of Paris?"

May 9, 1934 p.1, p.2: "I'm hitting mean weather just at present in my school work . . . ."


Selections: Planning notes for The Dream of the Flesh of Iron

On the The Dream of the Flesh of Iron, from Shade of the Raintree, by Larry Lockridge, pp. 183-90.

--They Earn a Living, 2 pages notes facsimile (313 k)
--Those Who Sleep, 2 pages notes facsimile (352 k)
--The Pyre, notes facsimile (176 k)
--The Rains Come, notes facsimile (139 k)

Selection from The Dream of the Flesh of Iron, "The Strike"--V, pp. 122-4


Copyright © Laurence Lockridge, 1994 All rights reserved

On Raintree County, THE DREAM SECTION

(What is the Dream Section like?)



By Larry Lockridge

Leaf Motif


From Chapter Nine, "Snake Pit in Paradise" (pp. 315-8):


     What was nagging him was the fate of the 356-page Dream Section that ended his novel, which Houghton Mifflin was urging that he drop. Earlier he had written them portentously that the issue "is one of great importance to me, the book, and possibly the future of American letters; and it is one upon which I beseech no sudden or rash decision but the most sober and careful consideration on the part of my editors." He thinks Joyce's Walpurgisnacht in Ulysses is "too clinical and pedantic and plain undramatic, though it pioneers the way. Finnegans Wake, not in any true sense a dream, is a retreat from the responsibility of communication.... You see, all through the book my purpose has been the opposite of Joyce's. He by his own confession attempted to make the simple obscure, having, as he expressed it, a natural antipathy to 'aquacity.' My whole intention is to make the obscure simple." His own use of dream material has in any event originated, he says, not in Joyce but in Freud.
     More than a coda, the Dream Section recapitulates the structure of the earlier novel in a new key. We move, he says, from Myths of Origin to the Growth of Identity to Wars of the Republic to the City of the Gilded Age to Homecoming. "All the symbols of the book at last achieve a rich confluence . . . We now pass through the looking glass of the map of Raintree County, and we are in the world where for the first time in the book, time no longer exists: the past and present (instead of shuttling back and forth as in the Day and Flashback passages) become simultaneous and identical." Dropping the Dream Section would leave the narrative intact but undo one third of the novel's conceptual apparatus.
     What is the Dream Section like? Lockridge claims new intensities here and sometimes he is right. Reverend Jarvey's slaying of his own father, only hinted at earlier, becomes vivid in the guilt-ridden dream. "The baptismal font was full of the old man's clotted blood, which had gushed in a hideous flood from his dead body.... Sooner or later the members of the congregation would smell the stench, or someone would go down a little too far and see the old man's stiff hand sticking out, and the jig would be up." [1]
     On one occasion Shawnessy is transformed into a black man who is about to marry the mulatto Susanna, when "several fat white men in ku-klux-klan robes, pig eyes through white eyepieces, rushed him and grabbed his arms." They lash him to the head of an iron bedstead. SECOND TYPICAL SOUTHERNER, fat, young, friendly smile and nice teeth, high friendly voice, 'Come on, boys, le's ball this buck, and then take turns on that little bitch. Hell, I ain't had a good black fuck for a week.' "
     The Battle of Gettysburg is fought again by walking corpses [2], John Shawnessy is crucified on a telegraph pole [3], the petals of the raintree in the City turn into coins [4], Shawnessy enters a patent office where all the world's dead bodies are stored and classified [5], he asks all the questions of Shakespeare one would wish answered [6], he encounters several eminent Victorian men who have been transformed into women [7], and he floats down the yellow waters of a river atop the huge old atlas of Raintree County.
     The dream format invites such conceits and transmutations, but my father is more at home with its accommodation of farce. Shawnessy floats through his dream world, never until the end in control of events or getting what he wants. Improving on reality, he finds himself in bed with Nell Gaither on their wedding night. "Give me lips, lover. Thrust home," she cries. Suddenly Garwood Jones appears, drunk, fully clothed, smoking a cigar and lying squarely in the middle of the bed: "Don't mind me, john. As best man, I'm very happy to lend any little service I can to you and the missus. Mind if I take a turn at the throttle?" Before Shawnessy has finished protesting, additional uninvited guests start showing up, first the president of the Ladies' Sitting and Sewing Society, then schoolchildren, then a cousin from Spokane, then a committee from the Ladies' Aid, then a delegation from the Baptist Church, then the county school board, then Reverend Jarvey, then his father and Bobby Burns and veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic. [9]
     The homecoming sequence begins with the Perfessor pressing a button and one by one blowing Garwood Jones, Cash Carney, General Jacob Jackson, and finally Shawnessy and himself off the Fourth of July speakers' platform into outer space, where they all reassemble on a red, white, and blue rocket and chew the fat. Down below, "some remains of cities were visible, here and there a human hand, and now and again a wheel or a bottle, but, as far as eye could see, no living thing." The Perfessor says, "Frankly, I think we got off the old ball just in time." Garwood Jones says, "Move over, boys. Here, john, let me take a spin at the controls. Remember--I'm still president." Shawnessy politely asks Evelina Brown to read the minutes of the last meeting of the Waycross Literary Society. And looking over the side of the rocket, the Perfessor says, "You know, there's one good thing about this: It's possible at last to be definitive about the human race. (Hawking and spitting over side of rocket) In a word, we stank." [10]
     Elsewhere [Dream VII], at the Centennial Exhibition, the Perfessor as barker auctions off Lockridge himself. "Now, ladies and gents, don't go away--we've a special offer for you today: a certain terrific professor of english--and everything else from jesus to jinglish; back from the wars without any hurts, after hiding behind a thousand skirts; faces the world with a pleasant smile, absolutely devoid of guile; took first honors and fat degree, at harvard, paris, and old pedee; juggles figures and facts and balls, imitates barnyard animals; fast and facile to parse and pun, jack of ten languages, master of one; converses of cabbages, kings, and crops, lallapaloosas and lollypops; good for thirty additional years, with quips and quotes running out of his ears; equipped with ribbons and recommendations, a beautiful wife and nice relations, scads of children and dissertations on everything since god was a greek, from homer's thunder to keats's squeak . . . Ladies and gentlemen, near and far, we're knocking you down this shining star at--(Rapping with gavel) Sold! For a good five-cent cigar!"
     Beyond farce Lockridge can return in dream to the time in Raintree County before there were human beings and county lines, when the earth was shining, pregnant, and unpolluted. [11] Elsie can revisit the world of her early memories, denying her father's mortality. "And now she was approaching the little house behind its white fence. She paused with her hand on the gate.... If now she entered, she would see them there. Her mother would be working in the kitchen where the smell of sealing wax lingered forever. The lost elsie and the forever lost ernest would be in the middle room reading . . . And if she went behind the house, she would see the sunlight falling through the apple trees. She would see the outhouse filled with clippings, and the barn, and the narrow backfield stretching to the railroad." [12]
     In the dream, time is a plenitude of luminous moments that can always be repossessed instead of a one-way tendency toward ruin. In the dream, Shawnessy finally overcomes nostalgia as history yields to prophecy and he plants a renewed myth of the Republic in the soil of Raintree County. [13]
     What was my father to do with all this?.....


Leaf Motif



Copyright © the Estate of Ross F. Lockridge, Jr., 1948 , 1998, 2001, All rights reserved


The Dream Section


     In December, 1945, Ross Lockridge, Jr. started the Dream Section, the finale to his novel, which had grown now to 1,650 retyped pages. --LL


Raintree County Vol 5 Cover


     The Dream Section of Raintree County is in nine chapters or "dreams," and comprises the final 356 pages (volume five) of the original 2,000 page manuscript of the novel as delivered to Houghton Mifflin in April, 1946. At the insistence of his editors, Ross Lockridge, Jr. dropped this lengthy finale, except for a few excerpts slipped in here and there. The 1948 first edition did not include it. Here we present in their entirety the first and last "dreams" (pages 1-47 and pages 306-56) of the original manuscript). Expect other excerpts. The complete manuscript of the Dream Section is in the Lilly Library of Indiana University.
     Background reading is first highly recommended: three pages about The Dream Section, from: SHADE OF THE RAINTREE, by Larry Lockridge. Included also are most of the referenced passages from the Dream Section.
     In an
OUTLINE of "The Dream", Ross Lockridge, Jr. wrote that the entire section "presents the night dreams of the five characters who have received special treatment during the Day".


--From Raintree County, p. 1060

Dream Section Contents--Dreams listed by first lines: pp. of original draft:      Selection:     
1. Of/having come/from lostness and from nightness and afar . . . 1--47 1--47
2. Of sadness and farewell,/of leaving on a train for parts unknown . . . 48--52 49-52
3. Of parting--/and farewell/to distant shores and elder days . . . 53--132 109-11
4. Of clubs,/committees,/bands of rapt disciples . . . 133--156 139-42
5. Of wars/and rumors of wars,/of monuments to comrades lost 157--223 217-23  &  199--203  &  184-91
6. Of the earth,/dark earth,/plowtorn . . . 224--232  
7. Of a city/whose walls were golden/and serene with summer . . . 233--293 236  &  265-9
8. Of faces,/faces pressing/through an intersection, 294--305 302-5
9. Of hunting/for a way/to get back home . . . 306--356 306--356


The Battle of Gettysburg is fought again by walking corpses.
From Dream Section, Dream V, ms. pp. 199-203.



thundering out of the woods, pants blown off, jacket smoking, head bandaged, saber broken, slapping mr. shawnessy on the back, thundering back into woods
     --Fine work, son! You--
     All sorts of generals in a variety of uniforms were rushing this way and that around the house in a mad melée. There was terrific explosion, scattering pages of war books all over.


trying to pick up shattered leaves and burst bindings, distraught, hunting for a treasured engraving,
     --Waterthon, maraburg, gettysloo, moaning plain! There was a sound of--O, pagod-thing with feet of clay--The same old story of lust and shame. And yet, comrades, were we not seeking a woman fair, a lovely--if dishonored--form? And will there always be stout hearts to defend her? Where are they? All those young men? The army! The army! The...
     Dense masses of soldiers were coming up from seminary ridge in the gray dawn. Blue pennants rode on the breasting waves. There were thousands marching in close ranks, repeating their famous charge to the center on the third day. They came on and on, an enigmatic and immortal army. He was all alone, a single union soldier, with a rusty old musket from which each time he pulled the trigger there fell a little trickling sand. The gray tide rose and rose, spreading, engulfing the plain below him, rising in streets of the town, steadily advancing with a shrill murmur. As they came closer, he saw that they were all dead men, bodies gray with earthrot, eyes lustreless, unblinking. Behind them he could see hundreds of thousands pressing on from the distant gate of seminary ridge. They came on, crying the names of lost nations, states, commonwealths, rivers, cities on the delta. The cry went up and down their massed ranks, their ghastly drums beat up the charge, their officers turned and waved them forward with swords.


     --Forward! The flag! Virginia to the front! Follow the colors! Forward!


running up and down in the empty union position, holding out hands in gestures of frantic expostulation,
     --comrades, stop! It is all over now! It is done! It is settled! We are one republic! Humanity, justice, progress, the future--


     --Shiloh! Malvern hill! Bull run! Fredericksburg! Chancellorsville! Gettysburg! Gettysburg! Gettysburg!


standing in a tide of gray faces and shadowy bayonets,
     --Comrades! It is all one now. That these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under god, shall have a new birth of--


unheeding, flooding by on either side, waving bullettorn flags, crying,
     --Vicksburg! Gaines mill! Antietam. Chickamauga! Chickamauga! Chickamauga!


--Comrades! A legend of the republic! We have agreed that it is done! No more war! No more wars ever! Stop! Stop!


more distantly, with fading drums,
     --Lookout mountain! Missionary ridge! Chattanooga! Chattanooga! Chattanooga!


wandering through dense woods,
     --Comrades! Comrades! Where are you! The army! The army!
     Along the dawnlit slopes to the river, he saw the debris of what had been an army--bayonets, knapsacks, canteens, newspapers, tobacco pouches. He must find again an army of sixty thousand young men, or else the republic would be lost in spite of all the bloodshed. He wandered down to the river where he saw the face of an old mill, huge letters across it wriggling like black snakes. Just on the other side the rebels were massing for the charge. But the army that had defended these hills and valleys was gone. Instead there were only dead men around him, men with rotted faces, sightless eyes.


crying up and down the river,
     --Hold fast, men! forward. Restore the line! Hold fast on the left! Hold like a rock! They come! They come!


trying to speak to them, trying to catch their arms,
     --Comrades--it is I, johnny shawnessy. It is all over now. The war is over. Stop! Stop!
     But they did not stop. They continued to go forward to the little bloodred river, they choked the roads with their wagons, the wagoneers cursed in high yelps, lashing the bodies of dead horses. The slain of chickamauga, lost faces, they were all here, fighting in darkness, rising from the clotted waters of the river.
     He was involved in the great rout again, part of a broken army of phantoms streaming down a road. It was afternoon. . . . .


To Other Writings by Ross, Jr.

Raintree County

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