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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 55 / 69





55 / 69

Cohen 52

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

tenure at


a lay Institute (I) of Preparation (P) For the Hereafter (H)"





Kinbote notes:

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).


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