I acquired this curious little book in the early 1970s, paying 5 pence for it. I was attracted by the title, but I found the contents to be rather underwhelming (you can judge for yourself if you like as it is possible to read the complete text online). It remained neglected on my shelves until I started these pages, when I took it down, skimmed it, decided it was no better than I remembered, wrote a quick and rather unfair overview for the benefit of the websurfing public and replaced it.
That was that for many months until I got an e-mail from a chap in Canada named Michael Osler, asking if he might buy Blobbs from me. I was happy to sell it, but I had to ask why he was interested in it. He sent me a most informative response, which by his permission I quote:
Why my interest in Peter Blobbs?
I have found Jung's work on dreams more useful that that of anyone else.
Carl Jung visited Cornwall in the summer of 1920, There, at Sennen Cove, he gave his first English seminar. There is no record of what he said. What is known, however, is that his topic was the dreams in the Peter Blobbs book.
In the late 1930's Jung gave a seminar in Switzerland on the interpretation of children's dreams. In that seminar he included two dreams from the Blobbs for interpretation. The book on children's dreams has not been translated into English. I managed to wade through the German, but it did seem odd to be making a translation of a translation of a truncated version of the original text. I hoped that I would be able to track down a copy of the original version.
There is no demand in the therapeutic community, Jungian or otherwise, for the book, to the best of my knowledge. I have yet to meet anyone who has heard of it. The fact that there was no transcript of the original seminar means that there is no record of Jung's interpretations, saving the brief mention in the childrens' dreams volume.
Jung rejected Freud's interpretation of dreams as too narrow and doctrinaire. I must say that I feel Freud works best for adolescent boys and adult men who are stuck in adolescence.
Jung observed that most dreams seemed to have their origin in the personal experience of the dreamer. He was at a loss to explain the smaller number of dreams (10-15%) that had mythological themes. His tentative suggestion was that there exists a level of the human mind which is utterly unconscious and is common to all human beings. Dream images contain many of the same elements as myth, fairytale and the tales of religion throughout the world. Much of the same imagery turns up in the visions, hallucinations and dreams of people who are diagnosed as insane-and in the dreams of normal people. The Cain and Abel tale appears in Australian aboriginal groups, Babylonian religious poetry and in the folklore of various people in outlandish places with no possibility of mutual contact. One hypothesis is that they are the product of a common tendency to order experience along the lines of archetypal images. Hypothesis, not evidence, not in fact ultimately provable. It may be that the whole thing is a solipsistic hallucination and not in any way linked to reality.
Given Jung's hypothesis, which explains the range of dream material from banal to psychotic as part of a spectrum of human experience, not simply as an inexplicable phenomenon of the mind, but as a reflection of an unconscious reality, he was able to suggest that the undercurrents of society, the great unspoken themes of history, are present in the dreams of individuals occasionally. They can reflect everyday reality, compensate it-and occasionally predict it.
If the First World War was the great watershed of the 20th century, it might be worth looking at the dreams of people of that day and age to explore the possibility that they saw-at night-what was on the verge of happening in the days and the years to come.
Michael's interest in the book stimulated me to do a little research of my own, and I discovered by checking the British Library catalogue that in fact 'Peter Blobbs' was a man called Arthur John Hubbard. It was only then that I noticed the rather obvious clues in the book itself: there are two advertisements for other books by Hubbard just before the title page, and the monograph 'AJH' appears in the picture shown, which is printed facing the Preface.
I couldn't decide on a fair price for a book which had only cost me 5p and whose market value was indeterminate, so I asked Michael to send me a book in exchange instead. He sent me Recollections of a Society Clairvoyant.