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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 9 / 69

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Cohen 6

validity of the primal scene, suggesting the possibility that the child imagined it after

witnessing the copulation of sheepdogs. In the absence of actual experience, he adds,

the "phylogenetic heritage" (238) of

humankind

compels children to invent such

memories of parental intercourse. Peter Brooks describes the combined text as "a

kind

of palimpsest," with its self-questioning of a firm origin implying "that all tales

may lead back not so much to events as to other tales, to man as a structure of the

fictions he tells about himself' (277).

The problem of origins is central to Pale Fire, as well, whose title alludes to a

passage from Shaltespeare's Timon of Athens that laments, "The sun's a thief, and

with his great attraction Robs the vast sea; the moon's an arrant thief, And her pale

/

/

fire she snatches from the sun; The sea's a thief, whose liquid surge resolves The

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moon into salt tears" (qtd. in

McCarthy

100). Mirror images and doubled characters

abound in Pale Fire, as do uncanny correspondences between Zembla and New Wye,

and between Kinbote's commentary and Shade's poem. And if, as J.P. Shute

suggests, "the question of origin is ultimately undecideable"

(642),

Nabokov

encourages us to seek it nonetheless, to find the "real" story behind Kinbote's

delusional commentary and relationship to Shade. Indeed, arguments claiming one or

the other as true author of both poem and commentary date back to immediately after

the novel's 1962 publication (Boyd, Discovery 4).

Freud similarly implicates the reader in The Wolf-Man, apologizing that since

his account is so complex, "I must therefore content myself with bringing forward

fragmentary portions, which the reader can then put together into a living whole"

(214). Here as in Pale Fire, we are empowered by the author to complete and explain

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