JM: "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..."
Brian Boyd:"...Humbert sneers at the Shade household and America in general for their poor taste, while himself exemplifying far poorer morals. The following (from my article “Arts, Humanities, Sciences, Uses” in the current special issue on “Use” in literature and the humanities, in New Literary History, 2013, 53, 577-96, pp. 593–94) makes not quite the same point, but a similar one: Nabokov’s critique, although he thinks that art and imagination are ultimately on the side of good (see the foreword to The Waltz Invention), of any notion that by themselves they guarantee good*:
Jansy Mello: Your words ("Literature cannot guarantee superior sensitivity of conduct" [  ]" Humbert...draws on literature as exalted romantic aestheticism, as if it underwrites what he thinks the rare elevation and refinement of his passion" [  ]" Literature does not guarantee elevation of conduct or extension of sympathies."[  ]"Literature at its best...can invite, though never ensure, an expansion of human possibilities, into a world where 'curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy become 'the norm'.") immediately reminded me of the conceptual meanders related to Freud's theory of "sublimation"  and the first example that came to my mind was from "Pale Fire," in John Shade's ironical reference to "torquated beauty, sublimated grouse.
This sufficed to goad me towards a search for other similar uses of it in "Lolita."  His intention is quite clear in the following paragraphs:
"The able psychiatrist who studies my case — and whom by now Dr. Humbert has plunged, I trust, into a state of leporine fascination — is no doubt anxious to have me take Lolita to the seaside and have me find there, at last, the "gratification" of a lifetime urge, and release from the "subconscious" obsession of an incomplete childhood romance with the initial little Miss Lee.
Well, comrade, let me tell you that I did look for a beach, though I also have to confess that by the time we reached its mirage of gray water, so many delights had already been granted me by my traveling companion that the search for a Kingdom by the Sea, a Sublimated Riviera, or whatnot, far from being the impulse of the subconscious, had become the rational pursuit of a purely theoretical thrill. The angels knew it, and arranged things accordingly [  ] Perhaps, my learned readers may perk up if I tell them that even had we discovered a piece of sympathetic seaside somewhere, it would have come too late, since my real liberation had occurred much earlier: at the moment, in point of fact, when Annabel Haze, alias Dolores Lee, alias Loleeta, had appeared tome, golden and brown, kneeling, looking up, on that shoddy veranda, in a kind of fictitious, dishonest, but eminently satisfactory seaside arrangement (although there was nothing but a second-rate lake in the neighborhood.) ** So much for those special sensations, influence, if not actually brought about, by the tenets of modern psychiatry.[   ] However, in recollection, I suppose, of my hopeless hauntings of public parks in Europe, I was still keenly interested in outdoor activities and desirous of finding suitable playgrounds in the open where I had suffered such shameful privations.

* -  Brian Boyd: "The best art, like the best science, critiques itself, both building on and challenging what has gone before. In Lolita, Nabokov throws down a strong challenge to his own chosen art. Despite John Ray, the pages that follow his foreword show literature cannot guarantee superior sensitivity or conduct. It is no accident that the two men who prey on Lolita are both littérateurs, one a scholar and poet who tries to marshal Dante, Petrarch, and Poe as precursors, exemplars, and excusers of his own love for Lolita, the other a playwright who knows his Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Molière, Sheridan, Shaw, and Maeterlinck and who has fashioned “many plays for children.” Humbert, the lone, tense, scholarly European, draws on literature as exalted romantic aestheticism, as if it underwrites what he thinks the rare elevation and refinement of his passion. Quilty, the relaxed, gregarious, and populist American, sees little difference between art and commerce, piquant pleasure and pornography, the slick and the sleazy. Both are “well-read” in literature, but neither is morally better for it. . . .// As Nabokov shows, literature does not guarantee elevation of conduct or extension of sympathies: those who engage with literature are too various, and literature itself would run counter its own deepest nature if it sought to impose a rigid, and rigidly enforced, uniformity of response on the diversity of real readers. But here in Lolita, Nabokov invites good readers, as we respond to Humbert’s perspective, to reject that perspective precisely for its failing to consider or see Lolita’s. Lolita invites us to confront the human capacity to ignore the suffering of others, in the supposedly refined Humbert; to see beyond the blinkers of our own roles as protagonists and narrators of our own stories, and beyond the privileges and power our education may give us; to expand our sympathies to those with little power or voice. Literature at its best, Nabokov suggests, can invite, though never ensure, an expansion of human possibilities, into a world where “curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy” become “the norm”—ecstasy in its root sense of standing outside oneself, not at all in the sense of Humbert on the davenport crushing out against Lolita’s left buttock “the last throb of the longest ecstasy man or monster had ever known.” //Art guarantees nothing, Nabokov’s critique of Humbert and Quilty suggests, but then this complex world precludes large guarantees."
** Cp. these lines with "... we would become strangely embarrassed whenever I tried to discuss something she and an older friend, she and a parent, she and a real healthy sweetheart, I and Annabel, Lolita and a sublime, purified, analyzed, deified Harold Haze, might have discussed — an abstract idea, a painting, stippled Hopkins or shorn Baudelaire, God or Shakespeare, anything of genuine kind." because of the contrast he establishes between genuine art and all sorts of fictitious and dishonest arrangements which, in spite of their falsehood, remain effective towards his "real liberation" It sounds as if Humbert couldn't make up his mind in connection to Freudian "sublimation" (except to affirm that is had to be a sham) 
*** - Richard Rorty's The Barber of Kasbeam: Nabokov on Cruelty. (Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity - Cambridge University Press) while focusing on Nabokov's confessed "irrational belief in the goodness of man...a solid, iridescent truth," doesn't dwell on "sublimation" (nor on  Nabokov's ironical use of it) although he mentions that, like Freud, Nabokov knew that "the only thing which can let a human being combine altruism and joy, the only thing that makes either heroic action or splendid speech possible, is some very specific chain of associations with some highly idiosyncratic memories."  
He also quotes the lines about  'curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy ' to raise two questions:"Is aesthetic bliss an intrinsic good?" and "Is aesthetic bliss the proper aim of the writer?" when arguing that "Orwell does the same as Nabokov: He helps us to get inside cruelty, and thereby helps articulate the dimly felt connection between art and torture."
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