NABOKV-L post 0010473, Sat, 30 Oct 2004 12:59:18 -0700

Re: ADA: hysteria - hysteritis
Hi, John
One has to take into consideration what VN could have intended when he
connected Ada and "hysteria". It might express a theatrical and exagerated
aspect of what is generally named in the US as "having hysterics", but I
favor a reference to a neurotic erotization that oscillates bt. coldness and
excess. There´s no need to bring in Freud in this context, I think.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Donald B. Johnson" <>
Sent: Saturday, October 30, 2004 4:16 PM
Subject: Re: Fwd: ADA: hysteria - hysteritis

> The source of the word hysteria and others like it is in Greek. It
> meant, loosely "bottom" ("hysteron proteron" could be translated
> roughtly as colloquial "bass ackwards"). It was especially used
> with reference to felmale sexual organs (one thinks "hysterectomy"
> the removal thereof. Late nineteenth century and early twentiety
> century psychotherapists etc, including Nabokov's cherished Dr
> Sigmund Freud, attributed most aberrant female behavior and
> psychoneurotic conditions to problems (including "traumas") based
> on their sexual organs. Dr Freud has, I believe, a whole book
> on "Hysteria", although he also said that he didn't understand
> women! Havelock Ellis also devoted space to these problems.
> We can thus connect the "hysteria" thread in _Ada_ with the
> "bottom" "motif" Boyd has dealt with. Suspected instances of
> "aberrant female behavior" in the case of Ada would be
> covered by the term, whether this involved sexual excesses,
> or the opposite.
> Please don't take these as expert or professional statements, but
> as a starting point. Many times a seemingly common term like
> "hysteria" means different things to people at present and to
> earlier persons, and to experts versus laymen.
> John
> ----- End forwarded message -----
> EDNOTE. And let us not forget Mr. Nymphobottomus of Speak, Memory!

----- End forwarded message -----