transference thus creates an intermediate region between illness and real life through
which the transition from the one to the other is made" (154).
As in his regard for the artistic potential of madness, Nabokov angrily opposes
Freud's use of infantile repressions as an ultimate explanatory paradigm. In a
passage in Speak,
he declares that in exploring the
"spherical" "prison of time"
I have ransacked my oldest dreams for keys and clues-and let me say at once
that I reject completely the vulgar, shabby, fundamentally medieval world of
Freud, with its crankish quest for sexual symbols (something like searching
for Baconian acrostics in Shakespeare's works) and its bitter little embryos
spying, from their natural nooks, upon the love life of their
The parenthetical aside is a sly wink to the reader familiar with Nabokov. In "The
Vane Sisters," the protagonist awakes from a dream, tries to look in it for signs of the
recently deceased Cynthia Vane, and, as the story ends, despairs. Reading every first
letter of the last paragraph, though, yields an otherworldly message from Cynthia and
her sister Sybil, ironically affirming the possibility of a kind of communication with
the dead (Boyd, Discovery 213-14). Clearly, planting and searching for acrostics was
not beneath Nabokov, nor was, for that matter, comparing himself to Shakespeare on
the pretense of their shared birthdays (Lee 85-86).
This is not to say that Nabokov is covertly approving of Freudian dream
interpretation and the infantile traumas it often uncovers; he undoubtedly finds both
19 Shade offers a similar, pithier barb in recalling the downfall of the I.P.H.: "And to fulfill the fish wish of the womb, A school of Freudians headed for the tomb" (Pale Fire 57).