Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025046, Wed, 5 Feb 2014 22:54:26 -0200

Re: [Old SIGHTING] Nabokov's Berlin

"Nabokov, who saw in art the possibility of redemption, was tempted to think taste ruled out evil.". Nabokov in Berlin by Lesley Chamberlain (July/August 2010 - Standpoint Magazine)

I isolated this commentary by Lesley Chamberlain with the hope that some Nabler would clash against it or chime in. His wording is careful, but the intention is clear (taste rules out evil and redemption is possible through art). Nevertheless, what Nabokov expresses, when speaking through a possibly sincere Humbert, denies L.C's conclusion. Isn't he saying that art is a melancholy consolation for the pains and horrors which are a part of earthly life or that the hope of a redemption is selfish because it doesn't make past wrongs to other people acceptable?

In "Lolita" we find that: "Unless it can be proven to me - to me as I am now, today, with my heart and by beard, and my putrefaction - that in the infinite run it does not matter a jot that a North American girl-child named Dolores Haze had been deprived of her childhood by a maniac, unless this can be proven (and if it can, then life is a joke), I see nothing for the treatment of my misery but the melancholy and very local palliative of articulate art. To quote an old poet:
The moral sense in mortals is the duty
We have to pay on mortal sense of beauty."
and, in the last lines: "I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita." No examples that corroborate L.C's thesis occur to me now...

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