Spring in Fialta
by Vladimir Nabokov
Spring in Fialta Theme of Sadness
Sadness has a lot to do with love in "Spring in Fialta," or at least a lot to do with that messy, ambiguous feeling of longing that we may or may not choose to label with the four-letter "L" word. Every chance romantic encounter is followed by a good-bye, a desire for more, a sense of jealousy and frustrated possessiveness. Sadness pervades the reflective tone of the story, and in this way is also tied to memory. Nostalgia in itself involves melancholy, so this story, composed of a series of recollections, explores the ache of memory.
Questions About Sadness
- Does Victor’s involvement with Nina cause him more pain or more happiness? In short…is she worth it?
- Victor says he feels that "something lovely, delicate, and unrepeatable [is] being wasted" in the time he spends with Nina. What does he mean?
- Victor nixes any possibility of a real relationship with Nina because "it would be penetrated […] with a passionate, intolerable bitterness and every moment of it would be aware of a past, teeming with protean partners." Does the past embitter Victor’s narrative? Or has he moved on from his melancholy? In other words, is narrator Victor still as heartbroken as the Victor standing "on the train station of Mlech"?
Chew on This
Nina’s death is not tragic because her life is over, but rather because Victor’s relationship with her has ended.
The comic playfulness in "Spring in Fialta" undermines the story’s tragedy.