----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, December 03, 2002 10:20
Subject: Re: PF & literary doubles
& multiple personalities
Stevenson was himself anticipated by several
decades by James Hogg's
"Confessions of a Justified Sinner". First
published in 1824. Quote: "This
terrifying account of a man haunted by
the Devil in the form of his own
evil double anticipates Dostoevsky's
great dramas of sin, self-accusation and
damnation by half a century."
Dear Charles HW,
I think Mr
Geduld's point was the importance the RLS story has had for introducing the
concept of the double into the general culture. Stevenson himself seems to
have been inspired to some degree by the curious history of Deacon William
Brodie (respected cabinet maker by day, thief and ne'er do well by night ),
himself inspired by Captain MacHeath in Gay's Beggar's
Dear Sandy Drescher,
Whether the double was or was
not an interest of Freud's is really besides the point. In France Pierre
Janet, Freud's great rival, was very interested in the phenomenon. Also
interesting in view of the many references to hypnosis in Pale Fire is
the fact that hypnosis was used from the beginning in the medical treatment of
people suffering from what is now called multiple personality disorder.
Robert Alter [Cycnos, 1993] gives a clear
exposition of how authors [Nabokov in his essay] make use of aspects
of their own personalities in creating fictive characters [in this case, in
Pale Fire]. It's a long jump to finding multiple personalities in this
and other texts, but only a short, easy deviation to superimpose this as yet
poorly understood phenomenon upon unsuspecting readers.
I am unaware of the article you cite, but the fact
that Nabokov, and probably most authors, uses autobiographical material
played no part in the conclusion I reached.
If I have
"superimposed [foisted?] this as yet poorly understood phenomenon* upon [any]
unsuspecting readers," I'm sure it hasn't been on this list.
*There is, by the way, a very wonderful book on the subject of
multiple personalities and its vogue especially among the French in the late
19th century by Ian Hacking, Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and
the Sciences of Memory. Interestingly, Marina Warner in her new book on
Metamorphosis "from Ovid to Nabokov" as it was described here recently, cites
this book as helping her to understand two of the metamorphic processes she
discusses, doubling and splitting. The psychological phenomena and some its
literary reflections are discussed clearly and in enjoyable English.
**Marina Warner's Fantastic Metamorphoses is also a wonderful
book. She discusses James Hogg and the work mentioned here by Charles