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Spring in Fialta

Spring in Fialta

by Vladimir Nabokov

Transience Theme

"Spring in Fialta" explores the pain of missed opportunities, of "what could have been"s, and of the briefest of encounters with a woman who "had always either just arrived or was about to leave." The relationship on which the story focuses is indeed a transient one, built from a series of ephemeral meetings that are over as quickly and randomly as they began. Victor, the narrator of "Spring in Fialta," struggles to find meaning in these encounters despite their brevity. One of the story’s possible conclusions is that life is as transient as the series of moments which comprise it.

Questions About Transience

  1. The changing weather in Fialta reflects the changing everything else in the story: Nina’s attitude toward Victor, her presence in his life, her being alive at all, Ferdinand’s inkwell predilections, etc. Every character and every element of the setting seems to reflect the transience of life – does Victor as well? Does his prose? His feelings? His perspective on Nina? Or is he the one element of constancy we’ve got here?
  2. Nina is always running in and out of Victor’s life. Is this the fault of fate, or of chance, or is Nina simply inconstant and fickle? How much of her messy relationship with Victor is under her control?
  3. Nina’s time with Victor has always been fleeting, at most a few hours at a time. How is it possible that he feels so intensely for her despite the brevity of their meetings?
  4. Why is it that Segur and Ferdinand are allowed to live at the end of "Spring in Fialta," but Nina is killed?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Victor only thinks he loves Nina because her ephemeral nature makes a relationship impossible. He wants what he can’t have.

"Spring in Fialta" argues that life is made up of a series of moments, just as Nina and Victor’s relationship is the composite of all their momentary encounters.

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