Spring in Fialta
by Vladimir Nabokov
Spring in Fialta Memory and the Past Quotes
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Back into the past, back into the past, as I did every time I met her, repeating the whole accumulation of the plot from the very beginning up to the last increment — thus in Russian fairy tales the already told is bunched up again at every new turn of the story. (9)
Memory in this story renders the narrative somewhat mystical. Look at how Victor compares his story to a fairy tale…
I cannot recall why we had all wandered out of the sonorous hall into the still darkness […]; did the watchmen invite us to look at a sullen red glow in the sky, portent of nearing arson? Possibly. Did we go to admire an equestrian statue of ice sculptured near the pond by the Swiss tutor of my cousins? Quite as likely. My memory revives only on the way back to the brightly symmetrical mansion. (11)
Notice that Victor remembers some details and forgets others. There isn’t really any logical sense to this. We’ll see as the story progresses that even the most trivial particulars are recalled.
…and that melody, the pain, the offence, the link between hymen and death evoked by the rhythm, and the voice itself of the dead singer, which accompanied the recollection as the sole owner of the song, gave me no rest for several hours after Nina's departure and even later arose at increasing intervals like the last flat little waves sent to the beach by a passing ship, lapping ever more frequently and dreamily, or like the bronze agony of a vibrating belfry after the bell ringer has already re-seated himself in the cheerful circle of his family. (21)
This is a great image to represent the way memory works in "Spring in Fialta." It’s a series of layers, one built over the other, all adding up to a final product which is no more than the sum of its iterative pieces.