Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0016661, Fri, 4 Jul 2008 02:20:48 -0400

Re: THOUGHTS: artists don't have to be consistent...or do
On Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 10:17 AM, Jansy <jansy@aetern.us> wrote:

> BTW: VN's explicit opinions about psychoanalysis were apparently informed
> only by his contact with Freud's very early writings and, probably, by the
> "utilitarian Freudians". Therefore, as I see it, he actually was a true
> Freudian inspite of himself.

I couldn't agree more, Jansy. Clearly (from my recent re-reading of *Lolita
* and "Signs and Symbols"--most of the rest of his work I read many years
ago and re-read from time to time) Nabokov had a good deal of what can now
be known as contemporary psychoanalytic knowledge drawn from various
schools, and is a "true Freudian" (since that is the phrase you used) in the
most contemporary sense combining progressive interpretations of
psychoanalytic knowledge, but he did insist on separating literature from
science, or on vexing and playing with that question, enchantingly adding
humor and philosophy to his magical fairy tales. I think he was making fun
of anti-Freudians as well as certain kinds of Freudians he had in mind
(probably mainly popularized vulgarized notions of them), and of didactic
writers. The fairy tales that he was after are not inconsistent with
embodying such psychoanalytic and other knowledge in literature, and the
ascription "Freudian" seems dated. It seems strange to me that anyone might
say "I am not a Freudian" and "I love VN." It seems strange to go to the
trouble to say "I am not a Freudian" unless one is not up-to-date with
psychoanalysis. It's an old-fashioned idea of what psychoanalytic thought
really is, and an old-fashioned idea, extremely inappropriate, that
psychoanalytic knowledge is incompatible with enchanting literature. It
seems important to see how psychoanalytic thought understands and encourages
creativity in a way that is quite compatible with VN's work. I think Jansy
can explain this better than I.

Barrie Karp

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