Study Guide

Spring in Fialta Allusions

By Vladimir Nabokov


Literature, Philosophy, and Mythology

Literary and Philosophical References
Alphonse Daudet, Fromont jeune et Risler aine (19) – "…while a song of the last century (connected, it has been rumored, with some Parisian drama of love)…"
Anton Chekhov, "Lady with Lapdog"
There’s no specific moment in "Spring in Fialta" that explicitly shouts out to Chekhov, but the whole short story, many believe, is an allusion to "Lady with Lapdog." For one, Chekhov’s short story tells the tale of a married man, the first-person narrator, who meets a married woman, named Anna, while vacationing in the seaside town of Yalta. They have an affair, go their separate ways, can’t stop thinking about each other, and find each other back in Russia to continue the affair.

There are a number of specific words that lend weight to this theory. Fialta, of course, is a self-proclaimed echo of Yalta (which Nabokov refers to in his second paragraph as a "lovely Crimean town"). Images like flower bouquets and posters (for the theatre in Chekhov, for the circus in Nabokov) crop up in both pieces. The first-person male narrators both discuss fate’s role in their little love affairs. Of course, it’s possible that this is all coincidence, and there are certainly a fair number of scholars who think so. (The argument is that general motifs like "flower bouquets" and broad topic like "fate" are not enough to warrant this discussion.) You should probably just read "Lady with Lapdog" and go from there. (Not that we’re trying to get you to read great Russian literature or anything…)