Study Guide

Spring in Fialta Summary

By Vladimir Nabokov

Spring in Fialta Summary

"Spring in Fialta" opens with a description of Fialta, a seaside town on the Mediterranean Sea. Narrator Victor brings us to a cloudy, damp, dull and grey Fialta day in the spring of 1932, when he accidentally bumps into a woman named Nina. This triggers for Victor a whole slew of memories, starting with the day he met Nina in 1917 in Russia. The two of them had a brief but passionate encounter (not that passionate – all clothes remained on, and besides, it was outside in the snow) at a party, though Nina was engaged to be married at the time. Much to Victor’s dismay, the two of them parted before making any plans to meet again.

For the next fifteen years, and up until the present in Fialta, Victor bumped into Nina again and again, in the oddest of places and by the strangest of luck. These encounters sometimes, though not always, were romantic (yes, now we are talking about sex), even after they were both married to other people. It’s clear that Victor harbors significant feelings for Nina, but she’s a different animal altogether. Carefree, casual, and cheerfully oblivious, Nina seems to forget all about Victor every time they part, even moments after they’ve hooked up. Victor is not so happy about this.

Victor’s series of memories is interwoven with the present in Fialta, where he and Nina interact with her husband, Ferdinand, and his aesthete friend Segur. Victor dislikes both men, but seems to especially resent Ferdinand, an author whose work Victor finds pretentious and useless. The text is riddled with attention to detail, in particular, a series of wall advertisements for a traveling circus on its way to Fialta.

As Nina readies to depart from Fialta, Victor takes her aside and declares that he loves her. It’s clear from Nina’s reaction that this is a totally unexpected and unwarranted claim. Everyone is embarrassed, and Victor takes it back. Shortly after, Nina gets into Segur’s car with Ferdinand, and the trio departs from Fialta, leaving Victor behind alone. Looking up at the sky, Victor suddenly realizes that, without his having noticed it at all, the sky above Fialta has become bright with sunshine. Soon after, he reads from a newspaper that, outside of Fialta, Segur’s little car crashed into a truck from the traveling circus coming to town. Ferdinand and Segur escaped, but Nina died.