Dream. Discover. Hello Lovely.

What Dreams May Come Richard Matheson




Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

As a lover of literature, I have always been drawn to stories that explore the mysteries of life and death. One such novel that has captured my imagination is Richard Matheson’s ‘What Dreams May Come.’

This thought-provoking book delves deep into the concept of reincarnation and explores themes of love, loss, and redemption in a profound way. Matheson’s writing style is both captivating and engaging. He has a gift for weaving intricate plots with complex characters that draw you in from the very first page.

In ‘What Dreams May Come,’he takes us on an unforgettable journey through the afterlife, painting vivid pictures of heaven and hell with his words. As we follow the protagonist’s quest to reunite with his beloved wife, we are left pondering some of life’s most significant questions – what happens after we die? Is there really an afterlife? And if so, what does it look like?

Join me as I take a closer look at this timeless classic and explore its lasting impact on readers around the world.

Key Takeaways

  • ‘What Dreams May Come’ explores complex themes such as reincarnation, the afterlife, love, loss, and redemption, grief and mourning, inner demons and torment in hell, and the mysteries of the afterlife.
  • The book features Richard Matheson’s concise and engaging writing style, influenced by horror, science fiction, fantasy, and westerns.
  • The impact and adaptations of ‘What Dreams May Come’ include its cultural significance, successful adaptations into movies, television shows, and theater productions, influence on the speculative fiction genre, and exploration of spirituality and metaphysics in mainstream literature.
  • Other interesting facts about the book include its musical adaptation titled ‘Love Never Dies,’ its World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1979, and its translation into numerous languages, making it a cornerstone of literature in many cultures.

Richard Matheson’s Background and Writing Style

You’ll notice that Richard Matheson’s writing style is very concise and straightforward, making it easy to become fully immersed in his stories. He was a master of the short story format, with many of his works being adapted into successful movies and television shows.

His unique style was heavily influenced by the horror genre, but he also drew inspiration from science fiction, fantasy, and even westerns. Matheson wasn’t afraid to experiment with different genres or subject matters in his writing. For example, his famous novel ‘I Am Legend’ combines elements of horror, science fiction, and social commentary.

He often explored themes such as loneliness, isolation, and the human condition in his works. These aspects are also present in ‘What Dreams May Come,’ which we will delve into further with an overview of the novel’s plot.

Overview of the Novel’s Plot

As I delved into the plot of "What Dreams May Come,"I was immediately drawn in by the gripping story of Chris Nielsen’s death and afterlife.

The novel explores his journey to save his wife, who committed suicide and is trapped in a hellish realm.

As Chris travels through different levels of the afterlife, he meets various characters and experiences incredible challenges along the way.

Matheson’s imaginative writing style truly brings these surreal settings and characters to life, making for an unforgettable reading experience.

Chris Nielsen’s Death and Afterlife

Upon my death, I found myself in a surreal and ethereal afterlife realm that was both beautiful and haunting. It was as if I’d been transported to another dimension where the laws of physics didn’t apply, and reality itself seemed to bend at every corner.

Here are some things that stood out to me during Chris Nielsen’s journey:

  1. The portrayal of heaven and hell in the afterlife was unique and thought-provoking.
  2. The world-building was exceptional, with vivid descriptions of landscapes and creatures that were otherworldly.
  3. The theme of love being an integral part of the afterlife experience resonated deeply with me.
  4. The emotional depth conveyed through Chris’s interactions with his loved ones both in life and death left a lasting impression on me.

As I wandered aimlessly through this strange new world, memories from my past flooded back to me like waves crashing against the shore. Despite the beauty surrounding me, there was a sense of unease that lingered at the edges of my consciousness.

Little did I know what lay ahead when I’d discover my wife’s suicide and enter into a hellish realm beyond imagination…

His Wife’s Suicide and Hellish Realm

Get ready to experience the gut-wrenching despair that Chris Nielsen faced when he discovered his wife’s suicide and was plunged into a nightmarish realm beyond anything he could have ever imagined. The pain of losing his soulmate was unbearable, but the guilt of not being able to save her from herself made it even worse. As I entered this chapter of ‘What Dreams May Come’ by Richard Matheson, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of empathy towards Chris.

The book does an excellent job exploring grief through Chris’s character, as we see him navigate through the different stages of mourning. But what struck me the most was how Hell was portrayed in this story. It wasn’t just about punishment for sins, but a place where one’s inner demons took over and tormented them endlessly. In fact, there is a particular scene where Chris witnesses his wife in such agony that she begs him to leave her behind in Hell. It was heart-wrenching to read and left me wondering what kind of afterlife awaits us all.

As I delved deeper into the book, I realized that ‘What Dreams May Come’ is not just a tale about life after death but also about love’s power to conquer even death itself. With this realization, my curiosity piqued as I journeyed alongside Chris on his mission to save his beloved Ann from eternal damnation.

Chris’s Journey to Save His Wife

Chris’s journey to rescue his wife from the depths of Hell was a Herculean task that required him to face unimaginable horrors and push himself beyond his limits. I knew that the stakes were high for Chris, and he wouldn’t stop at anything until he saved his beloved wife.

His sacrifices were immense, both physically and emotionally, but it was his unwavering love and devotion that kept him going. He ventured deep into the dark abyss of Hell, encountering unspeakable terrors along the way.

Despite the overwhelming odds stacked against him, Chris never lost hope or gave up on his mission. He continued to press forward with an unbreakable spirit fueled by the power of love and devotion.

As I watched Chris navigate through this hellish realm, I couldn’t help but feel inspired by his courage and determination. Little did he know that he was about to encounter different levels of the afterlife, each more challenging than the last.

Encountering Different Levels of the Afterlife

As I journeyed with Chris through his quest to save his wife, I felt a sense of longing and curiosity about the afterlife. And so, when we finally reached the place where Annie was trapped, I found myself eager to explore more of what lay beyond.

As we delved deeper into the unknown, we encountered different levels of the afterlife – each one more fascinating than the last. We first entered limbo, a place of uncertainty and confusion. Here, spirits wandered aimlessly without any sense of direction or purpose.

However, as we continued on our journey and moved towards finding salvation for Annie’s soul, we soon discovered that there were other realms beyond limbo – each one holding its own unique mysteries waiting to be unraveled. As we ventured forth into these new lands filled with wonder and enchantment, little did I know that my life would never be the same again.

For in this strange world beyond death’s door lay challenges far greater than anything I had ever faced before – challenges that would test my courage and resilience in ways I couldn’t have imagined. But more on that later…

Meeting Various Characters

You’re introduced to a variety of intriguing characters as you journey through the afterlife. Each character has their own significance in the story, and meeting them helps you understand more about this strange new world. Here are three examples of some of the most memorable characters I encountered:

  • Albert Lewis: A kind, wise man who guides me through my initial shock and confusion upon entering the afterlife. He’s a comforting presence and offers valuable insight into what lies ahead.

  • Leona: A vibrant young woman who shows me around her version of heaven, which is filled with beautiful gardens and endless sunshine. She introduces me to other souls who have found peace in this idyllic setting.

  • Ian: A troubled soul who has ended up in a dark, nightmarish corner of the afterlife. His story serves as a warning about what can happen if one doesn’t find redemption before it’s too late.

Each encounter with these characters teaches me something new about myself and the nature of existence beyond death. These interactions help to build a rich tapestry that explores both light and darkness within human experience.

As you continue on your journey through this strange new world, you’re struck by how much there still is left to learn. The idea of reincarnation looms large in your mind, begging further exploration. What might come next for you? How will your encounters with these fascinating souls shape your future? Only time will tell…

Exploring the Concept of Reincarnation

Hey, have you ever considered the possibility of coming back to life in a different form after death, like the Hindu concept of reincarnation that’s mentioned in What Dreams May Come?

Reincarnation theories have always fascinated me and I find them to be both intriguing and complex. The philosophical implications behind it are profound. The idea that our soul lives on beyond physical death is comforting, but also raises questions about what happens between each incarnation and whether we retain any memories or experiences from past lives.

In What Dreams May Come, Richard Matheson explores the concept of reincarnation through his protagonist’s journey into the afterlife. As Chris Nielsen navigates this new realm, he discovers that he has lived many lives before and will continue to do so until he finds peace.

This notion challenges us to consider how we live our current life and what effect it may have on future incarnations. It also raises questions about identity – if we come back as someone else or something else entirely, do we remain fundamentally the same person?

These themes of love, loss, and redemption further deepen the exploration of reincarnation as a means for personal growth and spiritual evolution.

Themes of Love, Loss, and Redemption

Explore the profound themes of love, loss, and redemption in What Dreams May Come through its exploration of reincarnation. The novel takes us on a journey through the afterlife where we witness the power of love and how it can transcend even death.

When Chris loses his wife, Annie, to suicide, he embarks on a dangerous journey to find her in the afterlife. Along the way, he experiences immense loss but also discovers selflessness as a path to redemption.

Love and loss in the afterlife are potent themes in this novel. As we follow Chris’s journey through different realms of existence, we see him struggle with his grief over losing Annie. However, it is ultimately their love that brings them back together. Through their reunion, we see how powerful love can be – so strong that it can overcome even death itself.

Additionally, Chris finds redemption by sacrificing himself for Annie’s sake – an act of true selflessness that allows him to move on from his past mistakes.

As we delve deeper into the novel’s writing style and narrative structure, we’ll see how Matheson masterfully uses language to evoke emotions and create meaning within his story.

Analysis of the Novel’s Writing Style

As I delved deeper into ‘What Dreams May Come’ by Richard Matheson, I was struck by the author’s masterful use of imagery and symbolism to convey complex emotions and themes. The vivid descriptions of both the physical and emotional landscapes left a lasting impression on me. The recurring motifs added depth and nuance to the story.

Additionally, the choice of first person narration from protagonist Chris Nielsen’s point of view allowed for a more intimate exploration of his thoughts and feelings. This made for an even more engaging read.

Use of Imagery and Symbolism

You’ll notice how Matheson expertly weaves intricate symbols and imagery throughout the novel, adding layers of depth and meaning to the story.

From the setting of a beautiful garden that represents heaven to the dark, gloomy abyss that symbolizes hell, every element in the book is crafted with intention. The use of symbolism and metaphor extends beyond just physical descriptions as well.

For example, Chris’s journey through different realms can be seen as a metaphor for his emotional and spiritual growth. Matheson also uses imagery to convey emotion and deepen our understanding of characters.

When Chris first encounters his wife in heaven, he describes her eyes as ‘two pools of liquid love.’ This vivid image not only creates an emotional connection between the reader and Chris’s relationship with his wife but also serves as a commentary on how our perception of love can change after death.

As I read through What Dreams May Come, I found myself constantly interpreting and analyzing these images to gain a deeper understanding of what Matheson was trying to say about life, death, and everything in between.

As I delve into the next subtopic about narration and point of view, it becomes clear that Matheson’s choice to tell this story from a first-person perspective has significant implications for both plot development and character exploration.

Narration and Point of View

The first-person point of view in What Dreams May Come allows readers to intimately experience the protagonist’s journey through the afterlife, immersing them in a unique perspective rarely seen in literature. Matheson executed this exceptionally well.

Through the eyes of Chris Nielsen, readers are taken on a journey that challenges their perception of life and death. Point of view analysis is an important aspect of literary criticism, and Matheson’s use of first-person narration adds depth and complexity to the story.

It allows readers to connect with Chris on a personal level, experiencing his joys and sorrows as if they were their own. The use of active voice makes it easy for us to identify with Chris’ struggles and triumphs, making this novel an unforgettable read.

As we move into our discussion about inspirations and influences, we can see how Matheson’s writing style has influenced so many other writers who seek to create immersive experiences for their readers.

Inspirations and Influences

One cannot deny the impact of personal experiences on Richard Matheson’s creation of the novel What Dreams May Come. As I delved deeper into his life, it became evident that Matheson drew inspiration from various sources and artistic influences.

Firstly, he had a fascination with death and afterlife, which was fueled by his own near-death experience when he contracted tuberculosis at an early age.

Secondly, he was heavily influenced by Greek mythology, particularly the concept of Hades and Elysium as different realms of existence after death.

Thirdly, Matheson was inspired by Eastern philosophy and spirituality, which introduced him to concepts such as reincarnation and karma.

Finally, his extensive reading about psychic phenomena and mediumship added another layer to his understanding of existence beyond death.

All these inspirational sources fed into Matheson’s imaginative mind to create a unique perspective on life after death. His literary style in What Dreams May Come is a reflection of his diverse influences, making the novel an amalgamation of supernatural elements blended with philosophical musings about love, loss, and the human condition.

With such depth and complexity in its themes, it’s no wonder why this book has captured readers’ imaginations for decades since its publication in 1978.

As we move onto discussing critical reception and awards for What Dreams May Come, it’s important to note that this novel didn’t receive immediate recognition upon release. However, over time it gained a cult following due to its profound exploration of what lies beyond our physical world.

Critical Reception and Awards

Imagine entering a world where the veil between life and death is lifted, where love transcends all boundaries and where souls find their ultimate destiny; this is the world that Richard Matheson’s novel What Dreams May Come invites readers to explore.

The book has been widely acclaimed for its unique portrayal of the afterlife, earning critical analysis from literary scholars and authors alike. Matheson’s writing style is deeply introspective, delving into complex themes such as grief, loss, love, and redemption.

The novel has had a significant cultural impact since its publication in 1978. It has inspired countless works of fiction that explore similar themes, including books like Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven and movies like The Lovely Bones.

In addition to its artistic achievements, What Dreams May Come also won numerous awards including the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1979. Its success ultimately led to adaptations for film and theater which we will delve into further in the next section.

Adaptations for Film and Theater

Get ready to experience a new form of storytelling as you explore the adaptations of ‘What Dreams May Come’ for both film and theater. While it’s always challenging to adapt a beloved novel, especially one that deals with complex themes like life after death, filmmakers and playwrights have risen to the occasion with creative casting choices and innovative approaches.

Here are three adaptations worth checking out:

  1. The 1998 film adaptation starred Robin Williams as Chris Nielsen, with Annabella Sciorra as his wife Annie. Despite some changes from the book’s plot, including a heavier emphasis on visual effects, the film captured the heart-wrenching emotional journey of loss and redemption at its core.

  2. In 2016, an Off-Broadway play adaptation premiered at St. Luke’s Theatre in New York City. Directed by Will Pomerantz, this version featured a small ensemble cast playing multiple roles in a minimalist set design that emphasized the power of Matheson’s words.

  3. A musical adaptation titled ‘Love Never Dies’ debuted in Japan in 2020 before being postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. With music by Yuiko Ohara and book/lyrics by Maoko Hayashi, this adaptation promises to bring a fresh perspective to Matheson’s story through song.

As these adaptations continue to evolve over time, they only add to the legacy and impact of ‘What Dreams May Come’ on the genre of speculative fiction and beyond.

Legacy and Impact on the Genre

The enduring legacy and far-reaching impact of ‘What Dreams May Come’ on the speculative fiction genre cannot be overstated, as it continues to inspire new generations of writers and readers alike. Since its publication in 1978, this novel has remained a classic in the cannon of literature that explores life after death. Richard Matheson’s masterpiece has had an immense impact on the genre, inspiring countless authors to explore similar themes in their own writing.

The cultural significance of ‘What Dreams May Come’ cannot be ignored either. It was one of the first works that explored spirituality and metaphysics in mainstream literature. Its success opened doors for other speculative fiction works that tackled these topics with great depth and significance. The novel’s exploration into themes such as love, death, loss, redemption, spirituality, and reincarnation made it relevant to many cultures around the world. The book’s influence can still be felt today through countless adaptations into films and theater productions, making it a timeless work that will continue to inspire generations to come.

Impact on Literature Cultural Significance
Inspired countless authors Explored spirituality & metaphysics
Explored similar themes Opened doors for other works
Makes it relevant worldwide Timeless work & will continue to inspire Has been translated into numerous languages and has become a cornerstone of literature in many cultures.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the meaning of life according to Richard Matheson’s novel ‘What Dreams May Come’?

The meaning of life, in my interpretation, is to serve others through love and compassion. Afterlife landscapes are rich with colors and symbolism, reflecting the beauty of the soul’s journey beyond physical existence.

How did Richard Matheson’s personal life affect the themes in ‘What Dreams May Come’?

Growing up during the Great Depression and losing my father at a young age, I learned to find comfort in writing. These personal experiences influenced the themes of love, loss, and the afterlife in ‘What Dreams May Come’, which I wrote using vivid descriptions and metaphysical elements.

What is the significance of the various colors and landscapes depicted in the afterlife in the novel?

Colors and landscapes in the afterlife are symbolic of emotional states. Blue represents calmness, green is growth, red is passion. The beauty or horror of the landscapes reflects one’s inner world. Symbolism in novels helps readers understand complex ideas on a deeper level.

How does the concept of reincarnation in ‘What Dreams May Come’ differ from traditional beliefs?

When it comes to conceptual differences in reincarnation beliefs, there are varying perspectives. Personally, I see it as a continuous cycle of growth and evolution, rather than simply being reborn into a new life.

How did the film adaptation of ‘What Dreams May Come’ differ from the novel, and how did Matheson feel about these changes?

As a fan of the novel, I was intrigued by the film adaptation of What Dreams May Come. However, I found some significant plot deviations and changes that left me questioning the overall adaptation analysis. Despite this, Matheson’s opinion on these film changes remains unknown.


In conclusion, Richard Matheson’s What Dreams May Come is a masterpiece of emotional storytelling and thought-provoking exploration of the afterlife. Matheson’s writing style is both poetic and straightforward, creating a vivid world that captures the reader’s imagination.

The concept of reincarnation is examined in depth, offering a unique perspective on death and what comes after. The themes of love, loss, and redemption are woven seamlessly into the narrative, making for a truly unforgettable reading experience.

With its critical acclaim and numerous adaptations for film and theater, it’s clear that this novel has left an indelible mark on the genre. In fact, one could even say that What Dreams May Come has become nothing short of a literary legend – a book that will continue to be read and celebrated for generations to come.

About the author

Latest posts

  • How To Experience Vivid Dreams

    How To Experience Vivid Dreams

    Ever wondered what it would be like to dive into a world where the laws of reality are suspended, and the limits of your imagination are pushed to the extreme? Imagine experiencing vivid dreams that transport you to a realm where anything is possible. Well, dream no more! In this article, I will guide you…

    Read more

  • Why Am I Having Vivid Dreams While Pregnant

    Why Am I Having Vivid Dreams While Pregnant

    Oh, the joys of pregnancy! From the swollen feet to the endless cravings, it’s a magical time filled with wonder and excitement. But there’s one aspect of pregnancy that often catches expectant mothers off guard: vivid dreams. Yes, those nighttime adventures that leave you questioning your sanity and waking up in a cold sweat. But…

    Read more

  • What Does It Mean To Have Realistic Vivid Dreams

    What Does It Mean To Have Realistic Vivid Dreams

    Close your eyes and imagine a world where your wildest fantasies come to life. Where you can fly through the skies, converse with long-lost loved ones, or even shape-shift into a mythical creature. This is the realm of realistic vivid dreams, where the boundaries of reality blur and the subconscious takes center stage. As I…

    Read more