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Stalking Nabokov$
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Brian Boyd

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231158572

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231158572.001.0001

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The Psychological Work of Fictional Play

The Psychological Work of Fictional Play

Chapter:
(p.109) 10. The Psychological Work of Fictional Play
Source:
Stalking Nabokov
Author(s):

Brain Boyd

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231158572.003.0010

This chapter focuses on Vladimir Nabokov's psychology as it relates to his literature. Nabokov once dismissed as “preposterous” Alain Robbe-Grillet's claims that his novels eliminated psychology. When asked if he is a psychological novelist, Nabokov replied: “All novelists of any worth are psychological novelists.” Since he evidently did not consider himself a novelist of no worth, we can infer he saw himself as a psychological novelist. Psychology fills vastly wider channels now than when Nabokov, in the mid-twentieth century, refused to sail between the Scylla of behaviorism and the Charybdis of Sigmund Freud. Nabokov treasured critical independence, but he did not merely resist others: he happily imbibed as much psychology as he could from the art of Leo Tolstoy and the science of William James. This chapter offers a reading of Ada to understand how the psychology Nabokov observes and experiments with in his fiction is intertwined with the modern psychology about whose possibilities he was so skeptical.

Keywords:   psychology, Vladimir Nabokov, literature, novel, behaviorism, Sigmund Freud, Leo Tolstoy, William James, Ada, fiction

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