Spring in Fialta
by Vladimir Nabokov
Spring in Fialta Theme of Memory and the Past
"Spring in Fialta" explores the nature of memory through its first person narrator, who recalls for his readers a series of past events. The story is essentially a series of memories, each laid on top of the next and together creating a composite narrative. We see that memory is selective, manipulative, and not to be trusted. In many ways, memory conceals; we can’t possibly hope to get an accurate idea of the past through one man’s spotty recollection. On the other hand, memory illuminates, since with it comes the benefit of retrospect, heightened awareness, and understanding that are clear only after the fact.
Questions About Memory and the Past
- Does memory reveal the truth, or conceal it in "Spring in Fialta"?
- Do we get a sense from the narrative of how removed Victor is from the happenings he describes? He starts off by introducing this "day in the early thirties" in Fialta; does his recollection seem recent, or sometime far in the past?
- Is there any reasoning to what Victor remembers and what he does not? Why, for example, does he remember the line about dark-haired girls all smelling like "burnt-leaf"?
Chew on This
"Spring in Fialta" is primarily about the process of memory. Victor’s actual relationship with Nina is less important than the way in which he remembers it, the consequences of recollection, and the nostalgic qualities of his narrative.