The Dream Pool Essays was an extensive book written by the polymath Chinese scientist and statesman Shen Kuo (1031-1095) by 1088 AD, during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) of China. Although Shen was previously a highly renowned government official and military general, he compiled this enormous written work while virtually isolated on his lavish garden estate near modern-day Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province. He named the book after the name he gave to his estate, the "Dream Brook". The literal translated meaning is Brush Talks from a Dream Brook, and in his biography in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York 1970-1990), Shen Kuo is quoted as saying: Because I had only my writing brush and ink slab to converse with, I call it Brush Talks.
The new Chancellor Cai Que ( 蔡確 ; 1036–1093) held Shen responsible for the disaster and loss of life.  Along with abandoning the territory which Shen Kuo had fought for, Cai ousted Shen from his seat of office.  Shen's life was now forever changed, as he lost his once reputable career in state governance and the military.  Shen was then put under probation in a fixed residence for the next six years. However, as he was isolated from governance, he decided to pick up the ink brush and dedicate himself to intensive scholarly studies. After completing two geographical atlases for a state-sponsored program, Shen was rewarded by having his sentence of probation lifted, allowing him to live in a place of his choice.  Shen was also pardoned by the court for any previous faults or crimes that were claimed against him.