ABSTRACT

Essays on applied psychoanalysis always have a special fascination and a special set of difficulties. The fascination is due to the marked creative imagination required. The difficulties relate to the fact that they deal with topics that are not verifiable. Being more limited empirically, they become reduced from probabilities to plausabilities. Internal consistency becomes more critical as empirical possibilities are reduced. In addition, such variables as historical context, style, and artistic tradition have to be taken into account. These difficulties lead to a situation in which a critic can offer equally plausible and consistent alternate interpretations. As is developed below, Nabokov's Lolita, although rich in the possibility for such multiple interpretation, also carries within itself such consistent and frequently repeated imagery that it becomes possible to construct a portrait of the dominant instinctual sources, conflicts, compromise formations, and solutions to be described. At the same time, no effort can successfully be made to explain the syntheses, sublimations, esthetic effects, and secondary

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Psychoanalytic literary analyses have previously been carried out with notable success, beginning with Freud's brief and revolutionary comments on Oedipus Rex and Hamlet (1900), later expanded upon by Jones (1949) and others (Moloney and Rocklein, 1949; Oremland, 1983). These analyses were restricted to understanding the character within the work of art as a real person with understandable and internally consistent motives and conflicts (Wangh, 1950). Other writers (Arlow, 1978; Baudry, 1986) used biographical data as well as the internal evidence of the writings. The present essay focuses on the internal workings of the novel and its main characters, but some brief mention must also be made about Vladimir Nabokov.