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Pnin (Penguin Modern Classics)

Pnin (Penguin Modern Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Vladimir Nabokov
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"Hilariously funny and of a sadness." -Graham Greene

""Pnin"'s vita, though its essence is saintliness, is yet a work of brilliant magic and fabulous laughter." -"The New Republic "

"Fun and satire are just the beginning of the rewards of this novel. Generous, bewildered Pnin, that most kindly and impractical of men, wins our affection and respect." -"Chicago Tribune
"Nabokov can move you to laughter in the way the masters can-to laughter that is near to tears." -"The Guardian"

Book Description

One of the best-loved of Nabokov's novels, PNIN features his funniest and most heartrending character. Professor Timofey Pnin is a haplessly disoriented Russian émigré precariously employed on an American college campus in the 1950s. Pnin struggles to maintain his dignity through a series of comic and sad misunderstandings, all the while falling victim both to subtle academic conspiracies and to the manipulations of a deliberately unreliable narrator.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 342 KB
  • Print Length: 180 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0141183756
  • Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (6 Sep 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #101,931 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was born on April 23, 1899, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Nabokov household was trilingual, and as a young man, he studied Slavic and romance languages at Trinity College, Cambridge, taking his honors degree in 1922. For the next eighteen years he lived in Berlin and Paris, writing prolifically in Russian under the pseudonym Sirin and supporting himself through translations, lessons in English and tennis, and by composing the first crossword puzzles in Russian. In 1925 he married Vera Slonim, with whom he had one child, a son, Dmitri. Having already fled Russia and Germany, Nabokov became a refugee once more in 1940, when he was forced to leave France for the United States. There he taught at Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell. He also gave up writing in Russian and began composing fiction in English. Yet Nabokov's American period saw the creation of what are arguably his greatest works, Bend Sinister (1947), Lolita (1955), Pnin (1957), and Pale Fire (1962), as well as the translation of his earlier Russian novels into English. He also undertook English translations of works by Lermontov and Pushkin and wrote several books of criticism. Vladimir Nabokov died in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm, hilarious, poignant 12 May 2008
By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Nabokov's writing can make me grin in the same way as when I watch Lionel Messi or Johan Cruijf play football - the exhilaration of seeing a master in action, in complete control of his medium.

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.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comic Nabokov but with a twist 12 July 2006
By Room For A View VINE VOICE
Pnin is a wonderful exploration of 1950s America set against a backdrop of `corporate' academia in leafy, prosperous suburbia. The hero of the title is a Russian émigré, balding, middle aged, single and quirky. His life is dominated by an inability to settle into his lodgings, domestic traumas involving various gadgets (particularly heating systems) and a thick accent. I found Nabokov's sympathy for the character and his cynicism towards the establishment highly entertaining. Pnin bumbles along, worrying about a possible heart condition and interacting in an almost perpetually perplexed manner with fellow academics and fellow Russian émigrés. Pnin however has a history and Nabokov provides enlightening and sensitive accounts of his life prior to arriving in the US and past loves. I felt far more sympathy with Pnin than the deep wound of consumerism and personal ambition that scars the benevolent society that Pnin pursues.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The powers of muddle shall prevail 12 May 2007
With Pnin we are introduced to Russian émigré, Timofey Pnin. Tenuously untenured at a New England college, he muddles through 1950s America with a unique variety of English of his own. Mocked and loved on campus in equal measure, he has an acute sense of the ridiculous of the world and of himself. For Pnin sorrow is "the only thing in the world people really possess" and his planned courses will show that "the history of man is the history of pain". Alongside these bleak courseplans, we are treated two parties, a former wife convinced of her own glamour, the visit of her insular, wunderkind son, and Pnin's wonderful driving. As with much of Nabokov, there are dopelgangers aplenty causing Pnin (and us) to ask which is the genuine article. Anyone who knows himself to be fallible and slightly absurd will love Pnin, and will be grateful to Nabokov for making this invention a reality.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hidden gem 22 Aug 2011
By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Nabokov is one of those authors you either connect with or don't, which is perhaps more a matter of taste than we would like to admit. His characters are bizarre, usually neurotic if not truly insane, yet almost always funny.

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.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars pnin not just a heartfelt profile 17 April 2001
By A Customer
while there is the constant feeling of patronizing adoration of the bumbling professor, there is always the looming battle between him and his health, and the memories of his dead lover. the undertones make this novel so wonderfly complex and nabokovian .. reminding the reader that even the most benign looking of characters have memories influencing their everyday lives... overall a wonderful book much lighter reading than palefire, lolita, ana, but very much worth it!
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly weighted 6 Oct 2001
By A Customer
Pnin is nothing like Seinfeld. Rather than being crass and unfunny it is gentle and often very amusing. The format reminded me for some reason, of The Pickwick Papers. Possibly because the eponymous hero muddles through a series of comedy set pieces, consistently arousing the reader's sympathies despite (or even because of) his anachronistic personality traits and his continous struggle to retain some dignity in a commercial culture far more cynical than his own. Whilst being written to the extraordinarily high level you would expect, this is far maore accessible than other Nabokov. Humility and humour makes this a personal favourite; and I really do very rarely "laugh out loud" whilst reading, but with this book I often couldn't help myself.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The pleasure of being deceived
Nabokov plays with his readers as a fisherman plays with a salmon on a line. And you thank him for it.
Published 1 month ago by Andrew Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Pnin - Vladimir Nabokov
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 more
Published 6 months ago by RachelWalker
3.0 out of 5 stars Ping Pong Pnin
Pnin as a novel is haunted by what it could be. There parts of this book which are simply brilliant (end of Ch. 5 in particular), but they are islands amongst the merely mediocre. Read more
Published 12 months ago by lucaslavia
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining character study
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 15 months ago by Charlotte
4.0 out of 5 stars Original, funny, baffling
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 more
Published 23 months ago by Metropolitan Critic
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful but confusing
The story of Timofey Pnin is a fairly enjoyable, if rather melancholic story. Many people have described this as a comic masterpiece however this mostly derives from Pnin's... Read more
Published on 11 Sep 2008 by Camus in Airdire
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly amusing but not brilliant in any real sense
Pleasantly amusing but not brilliant in any real sense. Written with panache, wit and richness (what else could be expected from Mr Nabokov? Read more
Published on 19 Aug 2008 by Pablo K
4.0 out of 5 stars Endearing and funny book...
This story about a russian professor named Timofey Pnin who lives in an american town in the fifties is an extremely satisfying read. Read more
Published on 3 Mar 2002 by "queenfilo"
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