What is the origin of the phrase 'fevered dream?'
October 12, 2004 8:26 PM   Subscribe

English/Literature question: I was watching some old Futurama episodes, and I noted on two occasions the use of the phrase "fevered dream"... [mo inside yo]

In Futurestock, Scruffy the Janitor suddenly says "...what fevered dream is this that bids tear this company in twain?" And in another episode, either Leela or Scruffy says "...without L-beams, spaceflight would be but the fevered dream of a madman..." I love that phrase, could have sworn I heard it somewhere before, possible Shakespeare? Googling turns up naught but bad poetry. This is driving me nuts. Thanks!
posted by ac to Writing & Language (6 answers total)
Have you tried "fever dream" (as in, a dream you have when you have a fever)? That's the version of the phrase I most often see.
posted by hattifattener at 8:46 PM on October 12, 2004

The closest I've seen so far is this:

Reality seems valueless by comparison with the dreams of fevered imaginations; reality is therefore abandoned.

-- Emile Durkheim (1858–1917), French sociologist.
posted by Sangre Azul at 8:47 PM on October 12, 2004

You know, I should really finish looking up quotes at Bartleby before I post.

Another possibility.
posted by Sangre Azul at 8:50 PM on October 12, 2004

I think its just a literary cliche. The best I could do is this letter to Edgar Allan Poe from his fiance in 1870:

Sweet, mournful eyes, long closed upon earth's sorrow
Sleep restfully after life's fevered dream!
Sleep, wayward heart! till on some cool, bright morrow
Thy soul, refreshed, shall bathe in morning's beam.
posted by vacapinta at 8:58 PM on October 12, 2004

There are also innumerable quotes using "febrile"
posted by aramaic at 9:05 PM on October 12, 2004

I think hattifattener has it. Unless you saw the phrase written down, what you heard was probably "fever dream," which is a cliche going back at least a couple hundred years (1834 Mrs. Hemans Eng. Martyrs i. 2 The cavern of the prisoner's fever-dream).
posted by languagehat at 9:39 AM on October 13, 2004

« Older Are Popular Women More Likely to Cheat Than...   |   Health Insurance in IL Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.