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Cohen 47

Chapter 3: Constructions, Transference, and Otherworlds

In the previous two chapters, we have attempted to close the distance between

two seemingly antithetical writers. We first looked at how origins function in The

Wolf-Man

and Pale Fire, noting their importance as the vertices around which Freud

and Nabokov weave webs of significance. We then explored the implications of their

shared affinity for detective fiction, noticing how both texts invite readers to complete

and repeat the investigations they describe-to spin, as it were, explanatory webs of

their own. In this concluding chapter, we will shift our focus from

looking

at Pale

Fire in conjunction with The

Wolf-Man

to

looking

at Nabokov's novel in opposition

to the psychoanalytic theory that informed and was informed by Freud's greatest

case. Specifically, we will read three of Freud's papers on the inner

workings

of

psychoanalytic psychotherapy, "Constructions in Analysis"

(1937),

"The Dynamics

of Transference"

(1912),

and "Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through"

(1914),

a triptych of related essays that together form a complete account of orthodox

psychoanalysis.

Readers familiar with psychoanalytic theory may well have anticipated this

discussion. Repetition is a key concept in Freud's psychological theory and

metapsychological philosophy, as well as, we might add, in the works of the literary

critics who study

to Freud, neurotics unknowingly act out their

him.I4 ~ c c o r d i n ~

repressions, a state of unhealthy repetition that is intensified and overcome in the

14 Most notably, Peter Brooks finds useful and compelling analogues for "the repetition compulsion" in the chapter of Rending for the Plot entitled "Freud's Masterplot: A Model for Narrative" (originally

published in Yale French Studies, 55/56

[I9771

with Felman's "Turning the Screw of Interpretation"),

applying the cryptic and discursive metapsychology of Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920)to literary texts. For our purposes, though, we will be most concerned with repetition as a symptom of neurotic illness.

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