But Pale Fire criticizes and engages with the Freud of "Constructions in
Analysis" on a level deeper than that of damning parody. Responding to a variant
from the section of Canto Three in which Shade recounts his brief and disastrous
a lay Institute (I) of Preparation (P) For the Hereafter (H)"
The ultimate destiny of madmen's souls has been probed by many Zemblan
theologians who generally hold the view that even the most demented mind
still contains within its diseased mass a sane basic particle that survives death
and suddenly expands, bursts out as it were, in peals of healthy and
triumphant laughter when the world of timorous fools and trim blockheads has
fallen away far behind. (237)
To Freud, the "fragment of historical truth" (23: 267) within madness should be
separated from the delusional detritus surrounding it and firmly relocated within the
patient's infantile past; to Kinbote, the trappings of madness are shed by death, and it
is in the otherworld that the preserved kernel of selfhood, presumably the soul,
joyously explodes open like
The context of Kinbote's theological point is
significant, prefacing an account of his stumbling in on cocktail conversation between
Mrs. H. and Shade: "'That is the wrong word,' he said. 'One should not apply it to a
person who deliberately peels off a drab and unhappy past and replaces it with a
brilliant invention. That's merely turning a new leaf with the left hand"' (238).
While Mrs. H. claims that she and Shade were debating "the old man . . . at the
We can also recall Niagarin and Andronnikov about to pillage Eystein's portrait of Count Kernel, whose strongbox, Nabokov tells us, contains only "the broken bits of a nutshell" (Pale Fire 131).