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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 42 / 69





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Cohen 39

suffers from classical paranoia in all its three main forms," namely "delusions of

grandeur'' (Kinbote's belief that he is the exiled king of Zembla), "erotic paranoia"

(his being convinced of Shade's deep love and esteem for him, despite evidence

suggesting otherwise), and "persecution mania" (his fear of assassination) (60). Note

that Boyd uses the language of absolute conviction, with our doubts



"indentified" as fictional, and Kinbote "marked as "thoroughly mad."

This is a key moment in Boyd's case. In order to armor his account against

complaints that the world of New Wye is as much an artistic construction as

Kinbote's fantasies, Boyd must demonstrate the former to have the greater truth

claim. This accomplished, he can safely dismiss Kinbote's narrative and pay heed to

its details only to read, as the book's subsequent second part is subtitled, "In Search

of the Story Behind" (75). "For Nabokov," Boyd asserts here, "the kind of sensitivity

to particulars and the attention to the interrelations of things that he invites us to see

and shows Kinbote to be blind to is no mere aesthetic fussing over details: it carries a

moral charge" (86). It is evidently this "moral charge" that allows him to deride

Kinbote as a "sickening stalker"


and earlier, to brutally castigate him as "a

pathetic, lonely paranoid, utterly deluded about himself and his importance to Shade,

to Zembla, to anything outside the desperate compensations in his own mind" (61).

Pule Fire does indeed carry "a moral charge," but not in Boyd's perhaps unintended

sense of a direct command.


he sounds not dissimilar to the anonymous New

Wye resident who denounces Kinbote in the grocery store: "'You are remarkably

disagreeable person. I


to see how John and Sybil can stand you,' and,

exasperated by my polite smile, she added: 'What's more, you are insane"' (25).

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