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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 6 / 69





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Cohen 3

Since imagination, memory, and desire are Freud's concerns as well, Nabokov's

dispute with Freud is less a pure polernic than a turf war: Naboltov is out to

reconquer occupied territory (640-41). Naboltov thus sees Freud not only as an

enemy but as a rival artist with the ability to create whole worlds from idiosyncrasies,

in Freud's case from "unlikely orifices and old Greek myths" (641).

Shute notes that while Nabokov challenges Freud in most of his texts, Pale

Fire contains more direct references to Freud and psychoanalysis than nearly any

other. The novel, she argues, dramatizes the contest between competing discourses

that is the essence of Nabokov's relationship to Freud (641-43). Giving Pale Fire a

cursory glance,


point seems somewhat of a stretch. The novel appears most

overtly as a satire of literary criticism, with deranged scholar Charles Kinbote

interpreting an autobiographical poem by John Shade as the disguised story of his

own reign and exile as the king of "Zembla." On this level, Pale Fire is a protracted

laugh at the critical enterprise, a novel-length extension of the interviews Nabokov

gave in the years of his literary celebrity following Lolita.

By doing a little digging, however, we can see that Freud is written into Pale

Fire in subtle and thematically significant ways. Glossing the


mix-up that leads Shade to believe he can understand death through art, Kinbote

triumphantly reports "one absolutely extraordinary, unbelievably elegant case, where

not only two but three words are involved," a Russian newspaper misprint of "korona

(crown)" as "vovona (crow)," and its subsequent correction as "korova (cow)." The

cross-linguistic playfulness of the blunders "is something that would have, I am sure,

enraptured my poet. I have seen nothing


it on lexical playfields and the odds

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