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Pnin (Penguin Modern Classics) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Pnin is endearing and lovable, while at the same time being consistently cringeworthy or absurd. He exploits are painted vividly on a meticulously realised backdrop of Nabokovian Americana. Familiar settings like universities and diners are embued with fresh life - descriptions I may have been tempted to skim in another book bear repeated re-readings.
Beauty is to be expected from Nabokov, but the strength of the humour may surprise you. The physical imagery of Pnin, with his strange, top heavy body and bald head combines with verbal humour ( "I never go in a hat even in winter") very effectively.
An undercurrent to the humour is that Pnin is frequently at the wrong end of it - the reader snickers at some gaffe poor Pnin has made, but in the next passage frowns at other characters laughing at him too.
It's short, but its images and scenes will leave a stronger imprint on your memory than most longer novels. I can definitely see myself rereading this in years to come.
Pnin is one of his finer creations: an inhibited academic, whose past is laced with pain and betrayals, he lives a little life from all appearences. Yet within him is a being of extraordinary sympathy and quirky intelligence, which floursihes under Nabokov's comic and tragic gaze. Only those who come to love him experience the treasure that lies within him, and as he is revealed to the reader, who can fall in love with him or not. Though very little occurs in this book in terms of plot, Pnin's existence takes on a kind of significance. THe reader comes to acccept his limitations while feeling such an acute ache of sympathy for him.
Warmly recommended, but it isn't for everybody.
Pnin as a character is one of the most likeable men in fiction, I dare you not to get completely taken in by his clumsiness, awkwardness and eccentricities. Evidently intelligent but marred by his complete lack of social skill, Nabokov creates all manner of hilarious situations for Pnin to navigate, simple non-issues are converted by Pnin into chaos and of course the most complex of problems are handled efficiently with little alarm. Pnin's turbulent backstory is revealed slowly and in some cases, darkly, but always ends up endearing Pnin further to the reader.
The prose is nowhere near as fantastical as Nabokov's other work but infrequently there is the little explosion of alliteration and assonance. Pnin's particular dialect is handled extremely well and never short on comedy. The odd flirtation with French is not taken to the extremes as with H.H's fancy prose but seems only for the embellishment of more comedy.
In a similar vein there is little narrative experimentation, you won't have to sit there with a notebook trying to unravel meta-narratives but you will have to contend with a particularly unreliable narrator. The narrator's voice imposes sporadically to repeatedly express disappointment, disdain and occasionally, disgust, with Pnin. All just to make you doubt the level of bias in Pnin's presentation every time the narrator intervenes. Then again it wouldn't be Nabokov without a little head-scratcher.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The novel is beautifully written but as a university campus novel it did not have much to say to me about the human condition.Published 4 months ago by Herman Norford
A loveable, light-hearted book from Nabokov, following his dark masterpiece Lolita. Timofey Pnin is a wonderful comic creation, delivering lectures he shouldn't be and getting... Read morePublished 6 months ago by ReviewMonkey
If your scared off by the baggage that come with Nabokov start here. Its a genuinely funny book, I loved it when I first read it and still do. Read morePublished 13 months ago by A. J. Hammond
Nabokov plays with his readers as a fisherman plays with a salmon on a line. And you thank him for it.Published 20 months ago by Andrew Robinson
There aren't words to describe the joy Nabokov's sentences can bring to a person. When those sentences are married to a similarly enticing story (as here; not as, for example, with... Read morePublished on 5 Jan. 2014 by RachelWalker
Whilst the language used by Nabokov in 'Pnin' didn't live up to the sensuality of 'Lolita', this novel was a highly entertaining character study and enjoyable read.Published on 30 April 2013 by Charlotte
Nabokov's comic novel from 1957 centres on Timofey Pavlovich Pnin, a Russian exile teaching at the fictional Waindell College in the United States. Read morePublished on 28 Aug. 2012 by Metropolitan Critic