Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0019915, Mon, 26 Apr 2010 19:56:15 EDT

Re: Semblable: neighbour, fellow, but not double
Dear Carolyn,

I do not agree at all that "brothers" and "kinsmen" are being contrasted,
in Leviticus, with "fellows" and "neghbours". You are making the same
mistake the Christians made when, not understanding Hebrew literary expression,
they thought that the Messiah was going to arrive straddling an "ass" and
the "son of an ass". The two descriptions refer to one and the same animal,
not two. The whole point of the Holiness Code, in Leviticus 19, is that a
dispute has arisen between oneself and one's "fellow", "neighbour",
"kinsman", or "brother". These are not, here, different people. It is all a question
of the one person one happens to have a dispute with. He or she may even
be a "stranger", whom one is also enjoined to "love" in the same chapter.
The question is, what does one do when there is a dispute, when one thinks
one's neighbour, kinsman, or a stranger has wronged one. The chapter spells
it out: one must not spread idle gossip, but nor must one be a bystander to
evil ("standing on the blood" of a victim). One must not take revenge or
bear a grudge, or have hate in one's heart, but one must nevertheless speak
out, and "surely rebuke" the other. This is how one loves him, or more
accurately acts with love "for him" (lere'acha, not et re'acha; dative, not
accusative), because he is like yourself (kamocha, adjective, not adverb), not
a mirror image, but perhaps your "semblable", because both you and he are
"made in the image of God" -- but not identical images or twins. This is
not sentimental rosy-glow love, it is honest love-as-action. As Auden said:
"You shall love your crooked neighbour with your crooked heart."

I hope this will be regarded as sufficiently relevant to discussion of VN,
as this is as it were the primal literature of our civilisation that
underlies all discussions of Baudelaire, Shakespeare, Nabokov and others.



Anthony Stadlen
2A Alexandra Avenue
GB - London N22 7XE
Tel.: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857
Email: stadlen@aol.com
"Existential Psychotherapy & Inner Circle Seminars" at_

In a message dated 26/04/2010 22:19:38 GMT Daylight Time,
chaiselongue@EARTHLINK.NET writes:

The word under question here ("neighbor") in Hebrew has the root
resh-ayin-kaf. Unfortunately I can't lay hands on a Hebrew dictionary at the moment,
but I can tell you that the two phrases in Leviticus distinguish between
brothers (literally: sons of thy people) whom we are enjoined not to hate or
hold grudges against, and the neighbor (in the singular) [ואהבת לרעך
כמוך] towards whom we are enjoined to bear the same love as that we we
bear for our own. So it would appear not to refer to the fellow next door.

_ (http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/)

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