“Spring In Fialta” is of course one of Nabokov’s best and most appreciated stories. It has a complex structure as well as a somewhat paradoxical center, so I think careful chronological analysis is a terrific idea. I’d like to examine the first six paragraphs of the story, which comprise a kind of scene-setting prologue in panoramic view that takes us to the point where Victor, the narrator, runs into Nina.  These paragraphs establish not exactly a present tense from which the flashbacks are able to depart, because the time frame of the story itself, in the first sentence of the second paragraph, is established as already past (“It was on such a day in the early thirties that I found myself…on one of Fialta’s steep little streets”) but a kind of balancing point, so that nothing is quite stable, everything layered. Using internal clues placed here and there we can establish the platform of the Fialta time-frame fairly exactly, I think. It takes place during Lent, in 1932. Lent began February 10th of that year and ended Easter, March 27th. As the story’s title tells us the season in Fialta is Spring, and going by the astronomical calendar Spring officially begins on either the 19th or 20th of March, which means that the events in Fialta probably took place sometime the week before Easter—that is if one goes by Western dating and several clues in the story suggest this to be the case.
The first paragraph not only builds Fialta as an impressionistic place for the story to unfold in, as Maxim Shrayer noted in his intensive analysis of Fialta in his book The World of Nabokov’s Stories, it also establishes an existential, metaphysical sense of the world as perception: past and present, real and unreal, specific and individual, trite and commercial—before revealing in the second paragraph that the story is a first person narrative. One of the things I’ve not seen much discussed are two elements wriggling through the story: the first would be what Nabokov would call “the theme” of kitsch touristy souvenirs. In the first para, second sentence he writes: “…the blurred Mt. St. George is more than ever remote from its likeness on the picture postcards which since 1910, say….have been courting the tourist from the sorry-go-round of the prop, among amethyst-toothed lumps of rock and the mantelpiece dreams of seashells.”  This theme will be re-iterated and developed incessantly, not only funning the tacky junk sold to bolster unreal versions of well-traveled exotic spots, but more importantly, it works as a form of miniaturized theatricality which subtly parodies the scenes and dreams of Victor’s false, tawdry and rather two dimensional understanding of the world, including his own motivations. But this isn’t a moralistic self-righteous satire. Nabokov gives trash it’s amusing, poetic due, adding humorous depth to his tragic-erotic fantasia.  Also, about St. George Mountain. St. George was a Christian martyr who was beheaded April 23, 303 AD, a date N. would no doubt have noted with pleasure. And, apropos the story, according to Wikpedia, there is a legend about St. George’s slaying a dragon. Here is the citation: “a dragon or crocodile makes its nest at the spring that provides water for the city of "Silene" (perhaps modern Cyrene in Libya or the city of Lydda in the Holy Land, depending on the source). Consequently, the citizens have to dislodge the dragon from its nest for a time, to collect water. To do so, each day they offer the dragon at first a sheep, and if no sheep can be found, then a maiden is the best substitute for one. The victim is chosen by drawing lots. One day, this happens to be the princess. The monarch begs for her life to be spared, but to no avail. She is offered to the dragon, but then Saint George appears on his travels. He faces the dragon, protects himself with the sign of the Cross,[30] slays the dragon, and rescues the princess.”
I think it’s possible to read several parallels between Nabokov and this legend, which I think acts as an ironic subtext to the story. Victor, who’s no victor, fails to best his rival, Nina’s husband Ferdinand, who is described in the story’s last para as a “Salamander of Fate” and a “Basilisk […] of good fortune,” a mythical snake and a lizard-like creature respectively, who may be read as a kind of lower form of dragon or crocodile, un-slain at story’s close—the point being that Victor in his action or inaction is a kind of coward, which becomes more obvious later in the story if not quite understood by the narrator himself.
The second para carries forward the “souvenir trash” theme, combining it with the second element of the tale not much noted previously, that is Christian mythical imagery: “coral crucifixes in a shop window.” In the same sentence Victor spots the first of the circus posters—Spring’s most famous recurring motif—warning of the fatal car crash that will kill Nina, even before she as a character arrives on the scene.  Nabokov also puts in one of his delightful reflexive images to comment on the story’s own structure, which is about to commence in the second part of the story: “…and the yellow bit of unripe orange peel on the old, slate-blue sidewalk, which retained here and there a fading memory of ancient mosaic design.” As the story unfolds it too uses a misty mosaic design that elegizes and mythicizes the events described. And remember the yellow orange peels. This color, along with the blue and the mist and the sea, constantly come back.  
In paragraph 3 we are told that the narrator will only be in Fialta a short time on leave from his family: “I had left my wife and children at home, and that was an island of happiness always present in the clear north of my being, always floating beside me, and even through me, I dare say, but yet keeping on the outside of me most of the time.” This is one of those interesting sentences which manages to unsay the point it's trying to make by the end, that is that his home life is happy—he leaves us feeling that the happiness he speaks of though always present in the “clear north of his being” by remaining outside himself “most of the time” means he’s really quite alienated from his banal life. The health of this marriage is a huge question mark over the story, because the narrator’s insistence on it later makes getting a handle on the narrator’s dilemma difficult, though I won’t jump ahead. Note too, the train description in this paragraph: “I had come on the Capparabella express, which, with that reckless gusto peculiar to trains in mountainous country, had done its thundering best to collect throughout the night as many tunnels as possible.” Trains and traveling will crop up throughout the story taking on intense metaphorical and existential meaning, which is fully spelled out in Victor’s described dream about Nina later on. This Para also contains more touristy souvenirs sold by a man cruelly described by the narrator as a brigand “hawking local lollipops, elaborate-looking things with a lunar gloss” on a balustrade separating a café’s terrace from the sidewalk.  The para ends with the second fatal circus poster: “…the fast colors of a circus advertisement featuring a feathered Indian on a rearing horse in the act of lassoing a boldly endemic zebra, while some thoroughly fooled elephants sat brooding upon their star-spangled banner.”
The 5th para is very interesting because Nabokov, through Victor, uses a feint that doesn’t pay off until near the end. A plus-foured Englishman, noticed in the previous paragraph, is now noticed by Victor noticing, he thinks, Nina: “…I happened to notice the sudden side-roll of his big blue eye straining at its crimson canthus, and the way he rapidly moistened his lips—because of the dryness of those sponges, I thought [Victor saw the man go into a shop with said sponges in the previous para]; but then I followed the direction of his glance, and saw Nina.”  This is an odd entrance for Nina, I think, the character who will obsess the narrator’s fancies, as the object of someone else’s lust, but then Victor will often wonder about her relations with other men, always intent upon proving how attractive she is to nearly everybody, even homosexuals, and girding a jealousy he cannot quite articulate. The small joke here is that later he will realize that this plus foured Englishman was noticing not Nina, but a moth, oft used symbol of the soul.
The 6th para points out the flimsy nature of the narrator’s and Nina’s relationship—he “fail[s] to find the precise term” for it in fact. So shallow is it that Nina doesn’t usually immediately recognize Victor when she comes across him, despite their having had sex on more than one occasion. She doesn’t recognize him this time either: “…she remained quite still for a moment, on the opposite sidewalk, half turning toward me in sympathetic incertitutde 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 (she would rapidly make the sign of the cross over me every time we parted), she kissed me thrice with more mouth than meaning…”  The yellow scarf connects to the yellow theme that won’t be completed until it is applied to her husband Ferdinand’s car, which will carry her to her death—Nina’s fate is color coordinated as any fashionable woman’s fate should be. Also her making the sign of the cross gives us more Christian imagery that may perhaps be a callback to the St. George legend. In any case, these gestures not only play motivic parts in the structure of the story, but characterize Nina as much as her underwritten part will be, from her ten-fingered wave, to her slit brown skirt, to her vivacious assumption of friendship without their really being much more than amorous acquaintance between them. Her light, glamorous, fair weather approach to living is here dramatized compactly, and is charming and attractively rendered, but it creates questions which the narrator, while conscious he’s begged them, seems unable to resolve, though a distinct unpleasant ambivalence about Nina won’t begin to surface until the introduction of her husband Ferdinand later on.

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