Re-reading Jack London's Martin Eden for my project, I've come across this passage:
Martin had ascended from pitch to pitch of intellectual living, and here he was at a higher pitch than ever. All the hidden things were laying their secrets bare. He was drunken with comprehension. At night, asleep, he lived with the gods in colossal nightmare; and awake, in the day, he went around like a somnambulist, with absent stare, gazing upon the world he had just discovered.
Martin Eden, chapter XIII. Emphasis mine.
This appears right after Martin discovers Herbert Spencer, whose works will play a major role in Martin's later life.
I can understand the sentences before the one with highlighted bit; I can also understand why he "went around like a somnambulist".
What I can't understand is the "nightmare" and "gods". If "nightmare" is used in a literal sense here, why would he have nightmares at all, especially with gods?
If the nightmares are meant in a more symbolic sense, then what do they represent? It is stated in the book that Martin resented sleep, seeing it as a waste of time, and thus sleeping for only 5 hours a day (even trying sleeping for only 4 hours, but that was too hard).
I just don't see why Martin would experience anything negative in his sleep, since everything thus far has only been good for him - Ruth, studying, writing, and now Spencer.