NABOKV-L post 0011838, Mon, 12 Sep 2005 08:07:20 -0700

Fwd: Re: Re: JO Morgan & Michael Maar's evidence/ J-1
Jo Morgan,
Apologies accepted as to your presumption about that one rhetorical question
( not to be confused with my other comments, though).

Dear List,

I may clarify something even further concerning how I understand a
discussion about Jo Morgan´s theories ( so far ).

I don´t doubt the merits and seriousness of those who research into VN´s
personal story and actually find that parts of it were turned into hidden
allusions in his novels. It´s the kind of research that goes in the same
direction as M.Maar´s or Centerwall´s.

They may generate the same kind of interest that happened with freudian
theories themselves. Freud was not interested in the mere transposition of
sexual meaning into some "encrypted content", it occurs in dreams. These
indirect references to the penis as rifles and cigars, to vagina in "small
purses" ( "bucetta", a famous swear word now) have been used for at least
three thousand years . One has only to read the Bible, Indian Epics, Greek
poets to check this rather common resource. This symbolic transposition was
not Freud´s "invention" as he presented it in "Die Traumdeutung".
Perhaps that´s what Nabokov himself feared to encounter as "Psychoanalysis"
( i.e a "sexual police state" I think he called it). Many psychoanalysts
actually worked only in this way (Cf. Princess Marie Bonaparte´s
interpretation of Poe´s novels...)

Freud´s genius lay in the discovery that the same mechanisms that prompted
dream symbolism were those that produced neurotic symptoms, lapsus linguae
and other parapraxies, poems...He initially worked with psychotherapy and
wanted to treat these neurotic symptoms and not to gloat over them. Freud´s
research went not in the direction of establishing equivalences for
penis/cigar but on the mechanisms that lay behind this kind of

Freud wrote of condensation and displacement taking place in dreams and
symptoms, that is, about metaphor and metonimy ( just to give you a
"rhetorical" example) generating poems or diseases.

This is why, among other things, I´m interested in Nabokov. He developed to
new levels his writer´s talent that was actually quite similar to Freud´s
( wasn´t it Rorty who wrote that Nabokov might have been jealous because
Freud got all the good lines ahead of him?)

I am not as interested in VN´s secrets as how he transposed them in his
novels and made they become interesting to a wide audience ( sexual abuse
stories, for example, are unfortunately too common and not very "creative"
when they appear as simple confessions). How a deliberate hiding-game
developed new rules and what was born by his ingenious strategy with words

Does it matter if a boy becomes a girl in a novel, or when the seduction by
a rich relative becomes the story of an old sweet lady haunted by ghosts
when we only exchange the images of one into the other ? This is to trivial
to engage Nabokov´s genius and his reader´s talents, as I see it. The
importance lies in the mechanisms through which these transformations took
place. The tactics of a "Word Golf" in the transposition from lame into lass
or Lady.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Donald B. Johnson" <>
Sent: Sunday, September 11, 2005 11:20 PM
Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: JO Morgan & Michael Maar's evidence

It seems it was presumptuous of me to treat Jansy's query as to why Nabokov
would bother encrypting information about his incest as genuine, rather
than rhetorical. I feel suitably chastised and will refrain from making
this kind of mistake re Jansy's comments in the future.

Jo Morgan

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