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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 61 / 69





61 / 69

Cohen 58

reductive and distasteful. But even in this sharply acerbic dismissal of

psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic reading, Nabokov acknowledges, however

begrudgingly, an affinity with Freud on the basis of their shared fondness for literary

gamesmanship. Freud sees the transference as a kind of cooperative combat between

analyst and patient, "the peculiar space of a deadly serious play"


as Brooks

puts it, where the past can be acted out symbolically and reformulated (234-35);

Nabokov sees games and puzzles as embodying the admirable qualities of ingenious

deception on the part of the composer and eager curiosity on the part of the solver,

dramatizing the "clash," as he says, "between the author and the reader" and "the

author and the world" (qtd. in Discovery 8). To Nabokov, then, the problem with

Freud is not that he puts such stale in verbal games, but that his style of play is so


Like his maker, Shade loves puzzles and games. "My illustrious friend,"

Kinbote tells us,

Showed a childish predilection for all sorts of word games and especially for

so-called word golf. He would interrupt the flow of a prismatic conversation

to indulge in this particular pastime, and


it would have been boorish

of me to refuse playing with him. Some of my records are: hate-love in three,

lass-male in four, and live-dead in five (with "lend in the middle). (262)

Shade's "childish predilection" annoys Kinbote in the same way that Kinbote's

incessant recounting of the Zembla narrative (this is what he means by "prismatic

conversation") eventually bores Shade. Now that Kinbote has an uninterrupted forum

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