Nabokov on Freud and Schopenhauer

There is a fairly simple explanation why Nabokov would like Schopenhauer yet claim to hate Freud, despite their similarity. Schopenhauer had no followers and left no school. When you read Schopenhauer it is his own work.

Freud, on the contrary, had many followers and spawned several competing schools. As often happens when a person becomes an “-ism” their ideas become watered down, bastardized and eventually popularized. Much of what parades itself as “Freud” has little or nothing to do with the man or his work. Unless one digs carefully it is hard know the difference.

From what I have seen in interviews, Nabokov is reacting to this popularized notion of Freud. More specifically the heinous strand of Psychoanalytic literary interpretation that was popular at the time and inflicted on Nabokov in general and Lolita in particular. Schopenhauer, on the other hand, inspired no school of insipid cookie-cutter literary interpretation to shame his memory.

I feel like Nabokov’s public persona is just another one of his carefully controlled literary characters. Commentary, interpretation and meaning are key themes in Nabokov and his “hatred” of Freud is just part of that game. Pale Fire‘s  parapraxes “korona/vorona/korova,” commenting on Freud’s “Kronprinz/Kornprinz/Knorprinz” from the Introductory Lectures, is just one example that makes it is hard for me to believe Nabokov wasn’t, privately at least, very much interested in Freud.


~ by severalfourmany on March 25, 2013.

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