Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026951, Sun, 17 Apr 2016 13:16:52 +0300

Spring in Fialta
Every time I had met her during the fifteen years of our—well, I fail to find the precise term for our kind of relationship—she had not seemed to recognize me at once; and this time too she remained quite still for a moment, on the opposite sidewalk, half turning toward me in sympathetic incertitude mixed with curiosity, only her yellow scarf already on the move like those dogs that recognize you before their owners do—and then she uttered a cry, her hands up, all her ten fingers dancing, and in the middle of the street, with merely the frank impulsiveness of an old friendship (just as she would rapidly make the sign of the cross over me every time we parted), she kissed me thrice with more mouth than meaning, and then walked beside me, hanging on to me, adjusting her stride to mine, hampered by her narrow brown skirt perfunctorily slit down the side.

My introductory scene with Nina had been laid in Russia quite a long time ago, around 1917 I should say, judging by certain left-wing theater rumblings backstage.

1917 + 15 = 1932. The action in Spring in Fialta (1936) takes place in the spring of 1932. Incidentally, Nina of VN’s story has nothing to do with Irina Guadanini, just as Vasiliy (in the English version, Victor) is not the author’s self-portrait.

маяк/ямка + Фиальта + зло = фильма + Ялта + коза = мать/тьма + фиалка + Золя = фамилья + кат + зола/зало/лоза

маяк – lighthouse; beacon; leading light; the name Mayakovski (of VN’s “late namesake”) comes from маяк

ямка – little pit; dimple

Фиальта – Fialta

зло – evil

фильма – obs., film; in VN’s story the narrator works for a film firm: Subsequently I even turned out to be of some use to him: my firm acquired the film rights of one of his more intelligible stories, and then he had a good time pestering me with telegrams.

Ялта – Yalta (“a lovely Crimean town”)

коза – she-goat

мать – mother

тьма – darkness

фиалка – violet (“the most rumpled of small flowers”)

Золя – Zola (Émile Zola, 1840-1902), the author of Nana (1880)

фамилья – obs., surname

кат – obs., executioner

зола – ashes, cinders

зало – obs., hall

лоза – rod; withe; vine

Alexey Sklyarenko

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