Dear Jansy and the List,

The concept of original sin post-dates Judaism. We are currently reading Genesis (another pair of murderous twins have just been born) and it seems to me that disobedience only (i.e. not hubris) is closer to what Adam and Eve did and for which they were punished with mortality. 

In regards to Humbert's guilt or innocence, I personally lean toward innocence partly because there has been no trial, and except in Wonderland, the trial usually precedes the verdict. But what I think is the most important question raised has so far not been addressed by the List, to wit, is Humbert a reliable narrator, which those who condemn him must accept at least to some degree, and if so, can someone please give me another example from Nabokov's oeuvre?

That is the real question.


p.s. I am a very lackadaisical Nabokovian and have not read most of the novels, so this is a serious, not a rhetorical, question.

From: Jansy Mello <jansy.nabokv-L@AETERN.US>
Sent: Sunday, November 3, 2013 3:03 AM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] An Exchange on Humbert's Innocence

A. Stadlen's arguments about HH and Humpty Dumpty humoristically indicate that  "Humbert's fall, like Humpty's, like Finnegan's, is the Fall of Mankind. But the Fall is a Christian notion. Judaism does not have Original Sin [    ] "Lolita" may have no moral in tow, but this is because it itself is the pilot not the piloted, being moral through and through, the paradigmatic moral and negative-theological discourse of our age. Disprove that! It's a possible hypothesis.." However, part of his assertions seem to mingle informations derived from common-sense reality and established dogmas, with those that are purely fictional (a very Nabokovian trait) - like the philosophical implications related to "the Fall." (I always thought that biblical Adam's and Eve's disobedience and hybris, later imaged in Lucifer's fall, were related to the theory of the Original Sin and were still valid for Christians and for Jews.) 
Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to bring up an instance from "Pale Fire" (CK's note to line 549) in which we find Shade and Nabokov discussing sin, in the context of "obsolete terminology." 
shade: All the seven deadly sins are peccadilloes but without three of them, Pride, Lust and Sloth, poetry might never have been born.
kinbote: Is it fair to base objections upon obsolete terminology?
shade: All religions are based upon obsolete terminology.
kinbote: What we term Original Sin can never grow obsolete.
shade: I know nothing about that. In fact when I was small I thought it meant Cain killing Abel. Personally, I am with the old snuff-takers: L’homme est né bon.
kinbote: Yet disobeying the Divine Will is a fundamental definition of Sin.
shade: I cannot disobey something which I do not know and the reality of which I have the right to deny.
kinbote: Tut-tut. Do you also deny that there are sins?
shade: I can name only two: murder, and the deliberate infliction of pain.
Nowadays words like "honor" and "dignity" like "sin" seem to be losing their former impact. Would they be obsolete, too, in John Shade's eyes? (V.Nabokov, elsewhere,* mentions "a norm," not sin or morality).
I agree with A.Stadlen's and J.Aisenberg's ideas, following J.A's quotes from "Lolita,"about HH having made up the information concerning the paternity of Lolita. (there are many other discrepancies in the plot related to it).  
* For Nabokov “a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss” (Lolita, Afterword, page 314), described as "a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness) is the norm

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