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Artistic harmonious balance between the reader’s mind and the author’s mind

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  1. Introduction
  2. Aspects of the artistic life
  3. Concept of interwoven literary relationships
  4. Nabokov's game-play
  5. The main focus of Nabokov's fiction
  6. Nabokov's own instructions
  7. The act of mirroring reality
  8. Nabokov's vehement resentment
  9. Similarities between the role of the reader to Nabokov and the role of the patient to Freud
  10. Psychoanalysis
  11. Example of the game-play
  12. Notion of the uncanny
  13. The Gift
  14. Freud's examination
  15. Nabokov's penchant for trickery
  16. Conclusion
  17. Works cited

Vladimir Nabokov boasts an impressive resume. As a writer, critic and scholar, he perfected both his own craft, and his ability to analyze the work of others. Similarly, within his texts, he focused a great deal of energy on the manipulation of his readers own reactions, earning him a reputation as a jokester and a game-player who actively sought to enhance the experience of the reader. He held famously high standards for his ?ideal reader,? lecturing his students on the qualities such a reader should, preferably, possess (see quote above); while any lover of literature can certainly access meaning in his texts, it is this ideal reader who is able to best consume his novels, able to read between the lines to identify hidden meanings. This reader can identify the games Nabokov plays with them, and understands why he is reaching out to them in that way. This reader recognizes glimpses of their own society in his writing, and - more importantly - their perception is changed by virtue of his unique presentation of reality. They recognize, in the artificial worlds of his novels, an uncanny similarity to their own world.

Many of Nabokov's novels focus on specific aspects of the artistic life - they are about writers, readers, critics and other assorted literati. In The Gift, for example, we meet an entire community of expatriate writers, from the young boy who dreams of poetic greatness to the celebrated but jaded novelist.

[...] The process of differentiating between what is intended as fact and what is pure fiction is an example of one of Nabokov's less obvious ?games.' "In Nabokov's case it is not that the action or characters of a novel 'stand for' or 'represent' the writing of a novel or the figure of the artist, but that certain descriptions of experience, character, or emotion illuminate and approximate artistic creation" (Bader 3). While this may seem at odds with what we have previously stated about Nabokov's use of autobiographical elements, it is meant to distinguish the difference between assuming that Nabokov is always writing about himself, versus the knowledge that he is weaving elements of reality into his narrative. [...]

[...] As we have begun to discuss, the fact that a clear link exists between the fictional creation and his creator does not suggest that Nabokov intended us to substitute his image for Fyodor's - rather, we see that the portrayal of this artistic community, of the writers who inhabit it, is factually based. It is similar to an observed reality, yet contains elements of the extraordinary, prompting us to label it ?uncanny'. Paired with our observation that Fyodor himself is haunted by apparitions that remind him what has been, what could have been, and what may be, we are able to come to several conclusions regarding the nature of this text, and the web of doubling we observe. [...]

[...] However, if we take a closer look, the similarities between Nabokov's artistic intent and the ways in which psychoanalysis aims to facilitate a greater understanding of the lived experience are quite noteworthy - even uncanny. All my books should be stamped ?Freudians, Keep Out'. Sinister? xii) Nabokov's vehement resentment of all things Freudian has been called grandest and most extravagant contempt for psychoanalysis known in modern literature? (Green 1). He routinely peppered tongue-in-cheek references to some of Freud's more noteworthy theories into his fiction - for example, proclaiming must remember that a pistol is the Freudian symbol of the Ur-father's central forelimb? 216), an obvious reference to Freud's views on the repression of infantile desire. [...]

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