Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0016303, Wed, 30 Apr 2008 21:29:53 EDT

Re: SIGNS: why "deranged in his mind" and "unreliable narrators".

In a message dated 30/04/2008 17:27:31 GMT Standard Time, jansy@AETERN.US

Rilke, in these stories, described how an omniscient God was oonce
absent-minded enough to be unable to return a lost bird to its original forest.
Because of this godly distraction an adolescent angel, who hovered around him
singing praises to the "All-seeing God", was rendered mute because he'd sung a
lie. Still the faithful angel flew around and his lips continued to shape his
soundless praise.

This is beautiful. But before Rilke, God, in the Torah, puts the rainbow in
the sky to remind himself not to flood the world again. He also says, after
giving the ten commandments: "In every place where I am reminded of my name, I
will come to you and bless you." God needs man to remind him of his own
name. It is a collaboration.

So even on the traditional belief that God is the narrator of the Torah (the
five books of Moses), God the narrator explicitly describes himself as in
need of the reader even to remind him of his own name. He is some way short of
omniscient. He is not Aristotle's unmoved mover. Rabbi Abraham Heschel calls
him the most moved mover.

So why should even a narrator who does not use the first person be thought
of as omniscient, if God doesn't claim to be?

Anthony Stadlen

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