About The Dreamtime: Background information when reading Lost Paradise

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Lost Paradise

A Novel

by Cees Nooteboom

Lost Paradise by Cees Nooteboom X
Lost Paradise by Cees Nooteboom
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2007, 208 pages

    Nov 2008, 160 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva
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About this Book

About The Dreamtime

This article relates to Lost Paradise

Print Review

In Lost Paradise, Nooteboom introduces us to Alma and Almut, best friends barely out of teenagehood, as they leave their childhood homes in Sao Paulo, Brazil for Australia. They're on a rather listless quest in search of The Dreamtime, an Aboriginal concept of creation and spiritual existence with which the two best friends have become enamored and obsessed. The psychological and spiritual experience of The Dreamtime is notoriously impossible to explain to those outside the secretive Aboriginal culture, but the basis for the belief is well documented.

Considered by some to be the longest continuous culture on earth, the Aborigines are the descendents of the first known human inhabitants of Australia. Divided into over 500 tribal groups with about half as many languages and countless dialects within them, they share a common belief system based on what translates to "The Dreamtime" or "The Dreaming".

The Dreamtime refers at once to a creation story, the ancient time of creation, and a parallel spiritual cycle that infuses all life, and is experienced as a confluence of past, present and future. In the creation story, giant beings, interchangeably human and animal, rose from the then-desolate Australian continent, and in their travels created mountain ranges, rivers, hills, plains, and other formations. Exhausted by their work, they sank back into the earth, and their resting places became sites of great spiritual importance, to which all ceremonies and rites are tied.

The bonds with the mythical beings of the Dreamtime are such that Aborigines believe in a united world of body and spirit for every form of life in the land, both living and non-living. This makes the land formations more than just symbols of creation, but rather a reality and eternal truth of the laws set forth by the mythical beings of The Dreamtime. The Aboriginal belief in reincarnation completes a circular cycle back to their ancestors of The Dreamtime.

An individual person's Dreaming is a combination of sacred sites, the sacred stories connected with those sites, and the rituals that honor them. Each person has a totem that connects them to their ancestral beings and their land, which may take the form of animal, reptile, bird, or plant, and shapes their personal connection to The Dreaming, in the physical, spiritual, past, present, and future.

Interesting Links

Filed under Places, Cultures & Identities

Article by Lucia Silva

This "beyond the book article" relates to Lost Paradise. It originally ran in November 2007 and has been updated for the November 2008 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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