NABOKV-L post 0000645, Fri, 14 Jul 1995 08:20:16 -0700

EDITORIAL NOTE: Mr. Piercy's discussion below is in response to Roy
Johnson's analysis of "Spring in Fialta"
sent out onJuly 13, 1995. Your comments on both Roy Johnson's orignial
analysis adn Joseph Piercy's discussion are invited. Please address your
comments to NABOKV-L.

A few points regarding Ron Johnson's excellent and incisive essay
on "Spring In Fialta": I agree that to look too deeply for
autobiographical undercurrents detracts from the stunning artistry of the
story. However, I am not entirely convinced of the double motif described
in Roy's piece (Ferdinand / Victor). Firstly, although there is a good
deal of evidence to support Victor's dislike of Ferdinand on the grounds
of his "possession" of Nina, it is also entirely possible that Victor's
envy runs even deeper. Roy points out that they have similar prose styles
and yet it could also be possible that Victor is a typical example of one
of Nabokov's unfulfilled artists (Hermann in "Despair"; Humbert, Kinbote
and countless other less obvious characters such as Dreyer in "King,
Queen, Knave" etc.). Victor takes great pleasure in the recent critical
failure of Ferdinand's work (1):

(1) "one thing, however, considerably cheered me up: the flop of his
recent play"

When they meet again in Fialta, Victor tries to antagonise Ferdinand by
mentioning a recent scathing review of another of his works (2) and in
recalling the piece in question,evokes a familiar Nabokovian formula(3):

(2)"and, not without pleasure, I asked him if he had read a recent bit of
criticism about himself"

(3)"I have always been irritated by the complacent conviction that a
ripple of stream consciousness, a few healthy obscenities, and a dash of
Communism in any old slop pail will alchemically and automatically produce
ultra-modern fiction: and I will contend until I am shot that art as soon
as it is brought into contact with politics inevitably sinks to the level
of any ideological trash."

It would appear perhaps, that Victor's claims for his sensitivity are
also claims for his own artistic perception. We learn that Victor works
in an office and that he has been away on several business trips, he seems
discontent with his life and thus, trapped in a past of missed
opportunities which are highlighted and in one sense, exacerbated, by the
reappearance of Nina.

This then would make the Victor/ Ferdinand double motif quite hard to
justify as Ferdinand's carefree existence, his pleasure at life's little
absurdities are all vastly removed from Victor's world of barely concealed
bitterness and unfulfilled ambitions.

The brilliance of "Spring In Fialta", as Roy points out, is that no matter
how many times it is read and re-read, there is (for me) always new
ambiguities and echoes to try and unravel. I came across this paragraph
yesterday and I don't think it is as straight forward as it seems. I
wondered if anyone would like to offer a possible interpretation (or
reflection) of it:

"Fialta consists of the old town and of the new one; here and there past
and present are interlaced, struggling either to disentangle themselves or
to thrust each other out; each one has its own methods: the newcomer
fights honestly - importing palm trees, setting up smart tourist agencies,
painting with creamy lines the red smoothness of tennis courts; whereas
the sneaky old-timer creeps out from behind a corner in the shape of some
little street on crutches or the steps of stairs leading nowhere."

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