The Shapeless Unease: an insomniac’s account of elusive sleep

Book review: Samantha Harvey explores the challenges she endures when exiled from sweet oblivion

The Shapeless Unease chronicles Samantha Harvey’s year of sleeplessness in a stream-of-consciousness memoir. Photograph: Matt Lincoln

The Shapeless Unease chronicles Samantha Harvey’s year of sleeplessness in a stream-of-consciousness memoir. Photograph: Matt Lincoln

“Death, so call’d, is a thing which makes men weep, And yet a third of life is pass’d in sleep”, writes Lord Byron in his epic poem Don Juan.

The tradition of using sleep and death as conjugated concepts in literature dates back to ancient Greek mythology which regards Hypnos, the god of sleep, to be the brother of Thanatos, a nature god that personifies death. The Shapeless Unease is a memoir of an insomniac woman who becomes preoccupied with our mortal condition and with death.

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