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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 56 / 69





56 / 69

Cohen 53

railway station, who thought he was God and began redirecting the trains"



"glazed eyes" (238) Shade directs at Kinbote suggest that either the two were

discussing him as well, or that he is the "person" Shade really had in mind. Either

way, the implication is that Shade regards Kinbote as "a fellow poet"


a gesture

of shared imagination and humanity we do not encounter directly in almost any of

their other


What is at stake here is the shared territory of art and madness, and it is one of

many moments in Pale Fire in which we can sense Nabokov's presence behind that

of his characters. Brian Boyd notes that Nabokov often flags important passages in

the novel with ironic dismissal, and here Kinbote concludes by shrugging that "I am

not sure this trivial variant has been worth commenting; indeed, the whole passage

about the activities of the


would be quite Hudibrastic had its pedestrian verse

been one foot shorter" (238). To the Zemblan theologians, the agnostic John Shade,

and Nabokov himself, then, delusions are not merely "attempts at explanation and

cure," as Freud says, but are "brilliant


that shed the


and unhappy

past" where the Viennese witch-doctor imprisons them. That is, while Freud seeks to

firmly lodge the truth at the core of madness within an infantile beforetime, Nabokov

envisions its redemption in an otherworldly aftertime.

It is significant in this respect that while Brian Boyd is able to fill a book with

elaborate demonstrations of how Hazel influences Shade from beyond the grave, how

One exception is found in Kinbote's gloss on "Freud" in his note to line 929. Kinbote describes here his and Shade's violently scornful laughter at Kinbote's reciting "certain tidbits from a book I had filched from a classroom"-Prof. C's classroom, in fact-"a learned work on psychoanalysis, used in American colleges, repeat, used in American colleges" (271). Two passages from actual books, the


first from Oskar Pfister's


Method and the second from Erich Fromm's The Forgotten

are reprinted in the note, with bibliographic information and page numbers included (271).


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