Nakata, Akiko. A Failed Reader Redeemed: 'Spring in Fialta' and The Real Life of Sebastian Knight. 2007-08

Bibliographic title
A Failed Reader Redeemed: "Spring in Fialta" and "The Real Life of Sebastian Knight"
Periodical or collection
Nabokov Studies
Periodical issue
v. 11
Publication year

"Spring in Fialta" is one of Nabokov's stories whose narrating protagonist might be characterized as a "failed reader." Victor ultimately loses his lover, Nina, because he cannot decode the ubiquitous signs of her true self and her destination from what he gleans during their last day together in Fialta. The article also considers a scene from The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, in which Victor, returning as V, redeems himself as a reader, and in which the person he reads, Nina Rechnoy, can be seen as the reincarnation, in a negative key, of the Nina of Fialta. The border-crossing of the two characters from short story to novel can be partially explained by reference to the details of Nabokov's life at the time both texts were composed.