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“SPRING IN FIALTA” - University of Ottawa

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“SPRING IN FIALTA” by Vladimir Nabokov
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 – 1977)
п‚— Russian and American poet, novelist,
short-story writer, literary critic,
translator, and entomologist.
Born in Saint-Petersburg into the
family of a prominent politician.
Emigrated to Europe after the
revolution of 1917. Studied in
Moved to the US in 1940.
Taught literature. Made a transition to
writing in English.
The success of Lolita (1955). Moved
back to Europe. Died in Switzerland.
Vladimir Nabokov in his own words
“I was born on the same day as Shakespeare, a hundred
years after Pushkin.”
“I am an American writer born in Russia, educated in
England, where I studied French literature before
moving to Germany for fifteen years.”
“My mind speaks English, my heart speaks Russian, and
my ear prefers French.”
Vladimir Nabokov
п‚— Symmetry: eight Russian
and eight American
novels (plus one
unfinished in each
п‚— Interests: books,
butterflies, and chess
problems (Poems and
Problems, 1971).
Nabokov’s Complex Style of Writing:
Figurative Language
п‚— Word play (p.289)
п‚— Similes (p.291, 294, 296)
п‚— Elaborate metaphors*
(p.292, 304)
п‚— Alliterations* (p.289 the opening phrase)
п‚— Personification* (p. 290,
291, 293)
п‚— Allusions* (p.291)
Figures of Speech
*Alliteration A pattern of repeated identical or similar
consonant sounds.
An indirect reference to some piece of knowledge not
actually mentioned. Allusions usually come from a
body of information that the author presumes the
reader will know. For example, an author who writes,
“She was another Helen,” is alluding to the proverbial
beauty of Helen of Troy.
Figures of Speech (Figurative Language)
*Metaphor A figure of speech in which a term or phrase
is applied to something to which it is not literally
applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in “A
mighty fortress is our God.”
*Personification An artistic device of representing an
inanimate object or an abstract idea as a living creature
or a person.
Nabokov’s Style of Writing
п‚— Hidden quotes (p.289 Chekhov; p.311 Pushkin)
п‚— Metapoetics (p.292, 299, 308)
п‚— The figure of the author within his own text (an
“Englishman,” p. 290, 291, 307, 309).
п‚— Synesthesia (p.289)
п‚— Extra-long sentences. Note the use of semi-colons
(p. 297).
 “Chinese box” of imagery: Allusions* (p.289, 292, 294,
Alexander Pushkin
Thou and You
She substituted, by a chance,
For empty "you" — the gentle "thou";
And all my happy dreams, at once,
In loving heart again resound.
In bliss and silence do I stay,
Unable to maintain my role:
"Oh, how sweet you are!" I say —
"How I love thee!" says my soul.
Compare to p.311
“ I said (substituting for our cheap, formal �thou’ that
strangely full and expressive �you’ to which the
circumnavigator, enriched all round, returns), �Look
here – what if I love you?’” (311).
пѓј What is the difference between the original poem by
Pushkin and Nabokov’s hidden quote?
“Spring in Fialta”
 “Mechanics” of memory (p. 292, 293, 301 (Nina), 305,
 Nina’s portrait drawn with words (p.304). Literature’s
power of preserving fleeting life.
п‚— Non-events, non-affair.
п‚— Foreshadowing and the opposite of dramatic irony p.
п‚— Time and tenses (p. 292). Spiral time in the last
п‚— Motifs* of history, trains, music, and many more.
MOTIF (academic definition)
• mōtēfˈ, in literature, term that denotes the recurrent presence of certain
character types, objects, settings, or situations in diverse genres and periods of
folklore and literature. Examples of motifs include swords, money, food, jewels,
forests, oceans, castles, dungeons, tests of skill or wisdom, journeys,
separations and reunions, chaos brought to order. Motifs are not restricted to
literature. Hans von Wolzogen coined the term leitmotiv [Ger.,=guiding
motive] to describe Richard Wagner's use of a recurring musical phrase to
reinforce the emotional impact of characters, situations, and themes in his
operas. The visual arts often rely on motifs to communicate deeper levels of
meaning: The bison and deer painted on the walls of the caves at Lascaux
represent both threat and survival, superior strength or speed, and food supply;
the endlessly rocking cradle in D. W. Griffith's film Intolerance suggests rebirth
and the inescapable frailties of the human condition (see symbol ; archetype ).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.New York: Columbia University, 2007.
P. 33053.
MOTIF (in simple words)
 “A motif is a detail within the story that repeats itself
throughout the work. Examples of common motifs include
colors, character traits, objects, locations, or situations. The
sky's the limit, really. What makes something a motif is
when it shows up several times throughout the story. Think
of them as breadcrumbs left by the author to draw your
attention toward something important in the theme or
message of the story.” What is a motif, and how can I find them in
Macbeth? 29 Jan 2010<
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