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Tip: Books are sorted alphabetically…

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The list of books available on PEP Web is sorted alphabetically, with the exception of Freud’s Collected Works, Glossaries, and Dictionaries. You can find this list in the Books Section.

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Shengold, L. (2012). The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness, by Lila Azam Zanganeh, New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2011, 228 pp. ISBN: 978-0393079920. $23.95.. Psychoanal. Psychol., 29(3):380-382.

(2012). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 29(3):380-382

The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness, by Lila Azam Zanganeh, New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2011, 228 pp. ISBN: 978-0393079920. $23.95.

Review by:
Leonard Shengold, M.D.

This delightful book is a tribute by a talented and witty first-time author to the great writer Vladimir Nabokov. Her book celebrates Nabokov's life and works. She appreciates and evokes the great writer, stressing his capacity for joy and happiness not only from her own perceptive descriptions but by wonderful quotations from his writings.

Although she was only four months old when Nabokov died, Zanganeh (I will henceforth call her Z) has identified with, and idealized, him—seeing him both as a model from her recent past and as a parental figure—what Freud would call her “ego ideal.”

Psychoanalysts regard Freud as their “ego ideal.” Nabokov despised psychoanalysis; he often did not deign to use Freud's name but would repeatedly attack him sarcastically in the prefaces of many of his novels as “The Viennese Master” (a repetitive negative powerful reactive response to a kind of negative “ego ideal.”)

I feel Z has both transferred and projected her psychically internalized parents onto Nabokov. Because everyone is subject to the wish to murder one's parents—the part of the Oedipus complex that we all have a tendency to minimize and deny—it can be easier to idealize and/or demonize a great already-dead person from the past to deflect murderous wishes away from our much-needed parents.

The parricidal wishes amount to terror for the small child. The terror is frequently not retained in responsible consciousness but is always latently present in the unconscious mind in relation to godlike parents whom the child feels (and the adult continues to feel) he or she cannot live without.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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