A.Sklyarenko: “ In VN’s story Vesna v Fialte (“Spring in Fialta,” 1936) the narrator mentions the link between hymen and death: On dit que tu te maries,/ Tu sais que  j'en vais mourir,and that melody, the pain, the offense, the link between hymen and death evoked by the rhythm…


Jansy Mello:  Well, then. Wedding is an “hymenaeus” (it’s supposed to be the first “hymen” event in the life of a couple). Considering Nina’s generosity with men, her marriage or her virginity could not have been the focus of Victor’s intense lingering pain. What else could have prompted the link with death he has established ? Did Victor mean physical death or his rhythmic* experience of “little deaths” with Nina, alas too transient?


Alexey adds an interesting information and his association to a man’s marital lapsus to approaching death: “Nina was the name of Griboedov’s young wife. She became a widow five months after her marriage. In his essay Griboedov (1929), written for the hundredth anniversary of the poet’s death, Khodasevich mentions the fact that both Griboedov and Pushkin have dropped their engagement rings during the wedding ceremony.” In Nabokov’s novel, though, Nina has been married for some time and it is she who dies in the end: the intense sadness and cloudy forebodings permeate the entire short-story and, in a way, it indicates something more than Nina’s death. As Alexey suggests, it points to the narrator’s own sense of loss and to his doomed intimations of supreme, thwarted, love. Perhaps the “truth that sings in passing”** here owes its lightning appearance to the cadence of the sentences in the novel more than to their meaning…



* It’s not the first time that V.Nabokov connects the rhythm of trains to the rhythm of a verse (so important in “Pale Fire”). Thanks to Alexey I could discern, this time, another link, now relating verse, trains and the motions of sex.

** VN words in a lecture about Pushkin ( Le Vrai et le Vraisemblable )

Google Search
the archive
the Editors
NOJ Zembla Nabokv-L
Subscription options AdaOnline NSJ Ada Annotations L-Soft Search the archive VN Bibliography Blog

All private editorial communications are read by both co-editors.