NABOKV-L post 0005865, Wed, 28 Mar 2001 10:59:01 -0800

[Fwd: last vol. of SYMPOSIUM "Collected Nabokov" (and S. Freud)

I have been browsing the fifth and last volume of the SYMPOSIUM Nabokov.
It contains (in Russian) THE ENCHANTER, SOLUS REX, OTHER SHORES (the
Russian version of _Conclusive Evidence_), late stories, poems, and
plays, i.e., VN's Russian writings 1938-77.

The greatest virtue of this set for the serious, Russian-reading
Nabokovian is the appended critical apparatus -- Alexander Dolinin's
"Introductions" and the copious "Commentaries" provided by a team of
outstanding Russian Nabokovians -- in this case: Yuri Leving, Mariya
Malikova, Olga Skonechnaya, Aexandr Babikov, & G.B. Glushanok. The
volume offers 650 pages of Nabokov texts PLUS 180 pages of commentary
that often illuminate and add a substantial new dimension to the text
cited. I offer one example from Malikova's commentary on _Drugie
berega_ (a.k.a. the Russian version of _Speak, Memory_).

In section 2 of chapter 15, VN writes of his young son's fascination
with trains and his insistence on long, cold hours on overpasses
awaiting the thrill of the train passing below: "It might be rewarding
to go into the phylogenetic aspects of the passion male children have
for things on wheels, particularly railway trains. Of course, we know
what the Viennese Quack thought..."

Most of us have only a vague idea of what Freud thought about trains
(although it's not too hard to guess in a general sort of way), but
Malikova quotes the specific
passage in Freud's essay "Infant Sexuality" that VN had in mind. I
quote from my ever-at-the-ready English translation of Freud:

"Shaking sensations experienced in wagons and railroad trains exert such
a fascinating influence on older children that all boys, at least at one
time in their lives, wish to become conductors and drivers. They are
wont to ascribe to railroad activities an extraordinary and mysterious
interest, ... they utilize these as a nucleus for exquisite sexual

And not just symbolism. The rest of Freud's passage on "Mechanical
Excitation" is even more hilarious. His argument has been brilliantly
recapitulated in the song lyric "It ain't the meat, it's the motion"
-- all prompting one to wonder whether Freud had been reading
Tolstoy's "Kreutzer Sonata" (or A.K) or, perhaps vice-versa.