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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 11 / 69





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Cohen 8

Chapter One: Rhetoric, Webs, and Origins

The WoZj-Man


Freud's analysis in

and Kinbote's commentary in Pale Fire

are, at least in part, efforts to

Freud wants to demonstrate the far-reaching

significance of infantile experience, Kinbote to prove to the reader (and perhaps to

himself) that "Pale Fire" is about him. Freud and Kinbote are not merely informed by

preconceptions, then: they write largely to justify and validate them. And lest we

make the


mistake of dismissing Kinbote as wholly divorced from his creator,

we ought to note both his consummate artistry (Rorty 164) and the short

anagrammatic distance from C. Kinbote to

V. Botkin

to V. Nabokov (Lee 83). The

rhetoric of The Wolf-Man and Pale Fire is thus closely associated with Freud's and


projects in these works, and is, I will argue, essential to the worlungs of

their narratives.

In the fifth chapter of the Wolf-Man, prefaced with the deceptively modest

title "A Few Discussions," Freud offers the rhetorical claims that foreground his

analysis of the neurosis. Freud's main concern here is to demonstrate the

irreconcilability of his infancy-centered theory of neurosis with the theories of Jung,

Adler, and their adherents, those who "look for the causes of neuroses almost

exclusively in the grave conflicts of later life" (192). According to these dissenters,

memories from infancy related by neurotic patients are fantasies concocted in the

present and located retroactively in the past due "to a regressive tendency, to a

turning-away from the tasks of the present" (193). Freud's first move is to insulate

psychoanalytic technique from the possibility that he might lose this critical point of

debate. Even if the analyst regards


experiences recalled by the patient as


I will use "commentary" to refer to the entirety of Kinbote's Foreword, Commentary, and Index.

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