Spring in Fialta
How we cite our quotes:
That day, in the blue shade of the Paris car, Ferdinand was first mentioned: I learned with a ridiculous pang that she was about to marry him. Doors were beginning to slam; she quickly but piously kissed her friends, climbed into the vestibule, disappeared; and then I saw her through the glass settling herself in her compartment, having suddenly forgotten about us or passed into another world…
Victor describes the pain he feels over Nina’s engagement as "ridiculous," which is apt. He has no reason to feel possessive over her, and yet we know that he does. There is no justification for his jealousy, yet it exists nevertheless. Victor’s pain, like his desire, is irrational.
…and I shall never forget my first night there: how I waited, how certain I was that without my having to tell her she would steal to my room, how she did not come, and the din thousands of crickets made in the delirious depth of the rocky garden dripping with moonlight, the mad bubbling brooks, and my struggle between blissful southern fatigue after a long day of hunting on the screes and the wild thirst for her stealthy coming, low laugh, pink ankles above the swan's-down trimming of high-heeled slippers; but the night raved on, and she did not come, and when next day, in the course of a general ramble in the mountains, I told her of my waiting, she clasped her hands in dismay — and at once with a rapid glance estimated whether the backs of the gesticulating Ferd and his friend had sufficiently receded. (31)
This is like a one-two punch for the reader. We experience Victor’s hopeless waiting and the bitterness of his let down, but on top of that is the embarrassment of his confessing it all to Nina, who was apparently clueless. Ouch.
I grew apprehensive because something lovely, delicate, and unrepeatable was being wasted, something which I abused by snapping off poor bright bits in gross haste while neglecting the modest but true core which perhaps it kept offering me in a pitiful whisper. I was apprehensive because, in the long run, I was somehow accepting Nina's life, the lies, the futility, the gibberish of that life. […] But then what should I have done with you, Nina, how should I have disposed of the store of sadness that had gradually accumulated as a result of our seemingly carefree, but really hopeless meetings! (31)
Nina’s transient presence seems to be what bothers Victor the most. He continues to feel that there’s some greater "core" to Nina – but is there? Could it be that this is simply all there is to Nina – a "carefree" woman with no desire for attachment and no sense of the pain she causes men like Victor? If this is true, then Victor’s desire really is as hopeless as he suspects; he’s longing for something that doesn’t exist.