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Character Role Analysis

Victor and Ferdinand

Victor hates Ferdinand so much, and condemns him so vehemently, we have to wonder: what’s up with that? It could be, as we discuss in Ferdinand’s character analysis, that Nabokov is comically mocking himself, that Ferdinand is actually a shadow of the author. But it also could be that Victor hates in Ferdinand that which he really hates in himself. Take a look at the one passage of Ferdinand’s prose which Victor repeats for his readers verbatim: "Her face was rather nature’s snapshot than a meticulous portrait, so that when…tried to imagine it, all he could visualize were fleeting glimpses of disconnected features: the downy outline of her pommetttes in the sun, the amber-tinted brown darkness of quick eyes, lips shaped into a friendly smile which was always ready to change into an ardent kiss." Compare this to, oh, ANY paragraph of "Spring in Fialta" and you’ll find that Victor’s prose is a lot like Ferdinand’s prose. So either Nabokov was incapable of writing in other fashion, or this is intentional. (Hint: it’s intentional.)

In fact, Victor makes a lot of weird detours away from the subject of Nina and onto the subject of Ferdinand and literature. He directly compares himself to the man, particularly when it comes to the art of writing: "He particularly prided himself on being a weaver of words. […] Were I a writer, I should allow only my heart to have imagination, and for the rest rely upon memory." Later, Victor says, "One can no longer see anything any [human landscape] through that […] ghastly rich glass [of his words]." And finally, "I have always been irritated by the complacent conviction that a ripple of stream consciousness, a few healthy obscenities, and a dash of Communism in any old slop-pail will alchemically and automatically produce ultra-modern literature." Victor claims that he himself would write about human truth and emotion, whereas Ferdinand is obsessed with showy and flowery prose. If you’ve read "Spring in Fialta" at all, you can see how this is a bit contradictory.