Famously, Nabokov could not resist deriding Freud. And for good reason: Freud’s ideas were enormously influential, especially in Nabokov’s American years, but his claims were hollow. Nobel laureate Peter Medawar, perhaps the greatest of science essayists, declared in his book Pluto’s Republic, in terms akin to Nabokov’s, that Freudianism was “the most stupendous intellectual confidence trick of the twentieth century.” Nabokov saw the intellectual vacuity of Freudian theory and its pervasiveness in the popular and the professional imagination. He thought it corrupted intellectual standards, infringed on personal freedom, undermined the ethics of personal responsibility, destroyed literary sensitivity, and distorted the real nature of childhood attachment to parents–the last of which has been amply confirmed by modern developmental psychology.From an essay by Brian Boyd, in The American Scholar. Boyd is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of English at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Tuesday, 6 September 2011
Nabokov on Freud