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NO.360 12.18.2017

“Why Did Nabokov Mimic Freud?”

Teckyoung Kwon, Professor Emeritus of the Department of English Literature at Kyung Hee University, has published a new book titled Nabokov’s Mimicry of Freud: Art as Science by Lexington Books.


It examines the connection between Vladimir Nabokov and Sigmund Freud with such diverse tools from relevant academic fields as English literature, psychology, cognitive science, and art. It is a detailed exploration of the relationship between Freud's psychology and Nabokov's literature through a convergent study of art and natural science.


Art of Nabokov utilizing mimicry and criticism

Russian-born Vladimir Nabokov is famous for several novels heavily influenced by Freudian Psychoanalysis. In his novel Lolita, a relationship between an adult man and an underage girl is depicted. Another novel Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle deals with an incestuous relationship. Based on the Freudian theory that childhood memory plays a pivotal role in later life, Nabokov showed aspects of similarity, mimicry, criticism and hatred in his novels.


Professor Kwon noted, “In psychology, memory and perception are not two separate fields, but one. Nabokov has sublimated it aesthetically by using a strategy of ‘mimicry.’ I was interested in the subtle viewpoint of Nabokov who was hostile toward Freud yet still mimicked him.”


It took over five years for Professor Kwon to finish her book after publishing a seminal essay in 2011 titled, “Nabokov’s Memory War against Freud” in American Imago, an academic journal founded by Sigmund Freud and Hanns Sachs in 1939. While working on the book as part of the “Dialog-on-Freud” series by Lexington Books, Professor Kwon spoke on this issue at several international symposiums.


Professor Kwon’s research under global spotlight

The book, Nabokov’s Mimicry of Freud: Art as Science, has been very well-received by world-renowned scholars. Jeffery Berman, Professor of English at the University at Albany, State University of New York, said, “This wonderful book by Kwon draws an amazing conclusion about the connection between Nabokov and Freud.”


University of Pennsylvania English Professor Jean-Michel Rabat? commented, “Teckyoung Kwon smartly analyzes Nabokov and Freud using various theories and philosophies. This is the first-ever systemic research which deepens our understanding toward connections between literature and Psychoanalysis.”


Peter L. Rudnytsky, Professor of the Department of English at the University of Florida, applauded the book, saying, “This in-depth book is a masterpiece of convergent research. It utilizes art, science, philosophy and psychoanalysis to boost our understanding toward Nabokov.”


A preview of the book will appear in six leading international journals including Studies in the Novel.

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