We are unable to display your institutional affiliation without JavaScript turned on.
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Find using OpenURL

Nabokov's Wiener-schnitzel Dreams: Despair and Anti-Freudian Poetics

From: Nabokov Studies
Volume 7, 2002/2003
pp. 129-150 | 10.1353/nab.2010.0014



By the time Nabokov composed Despair in mid-1932, he had been nurturing a growing antipathy to Freudian psychoanalysis since emigrating to the West thirteen years prior. After examining the history of Nabokov's probable exposure to Freudian ideas and epigones in Russia, in Cambridge, and in Berlin, the author turns to Despair as the culmination of Nabokov's early anti-Freudian creative activity. Countering Freud's famed "Oedipus complex," Nabokov fills his novel with mythological and sexual imagery, especially from the myth of Cybele and Attis. In so doing he creates a potential interpretive structure that leads, ultimately, nowhere—except to the demise of his main character, who is also the novel's leading Freudian practitioner. The novel's almost absurd proliferation of phalluses, referring to Freudianism, is undermined by the self-castration theme, which seems to be Nabokov's way of illustrating how a flawed ideology does violence to itself.

You must be logged in through an institution that subscribes to this journal or book to access the full text.


Shibboleth authentication is only available to registered institutions.

Project MUSE

For subscribing associations only.