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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm, hilarious, poignant
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...
Published on 12 May 2008 by Amazon Customer

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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. That is not to say the book is bad, anything but in fact, I just seem to be holding it to higher standard on account of it being a Nabokov.

Pnin as a character is one of the most...
Published 12 months ago by lucaslavia


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm, hilarious, poignant, 12 May 2008
By 
Amazon Customer (Aberdeen, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Pnin (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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.

Wonderful.
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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 - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Pnin (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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
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This review is from: Pnin (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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 "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Pnin (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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
This review is from: Pnin (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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
This review is from: Pnin (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pnin - Vladimir Nabokov, 5 Jan 2014
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Pnin (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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 The Real Life of Sebastian Knight) his novels are hard to beat for enjoyment. Oh, how I loved this: the first chapter had me laughing, the last nearly crying, as Nabokov tells the episodic story of Russian-in-America, Professor Timofey Pnin. He is shambling, delightful, charming, intelligent, romantic, passionate, capable within his metier. A character to love. He's the heart of the book; Nabokov's writerly ingenuity is almost mere wallpaper (as, arguably, it always should be). That's why I found the end so moving. You really, really feel for this fish out of water who eventually has existed through years of meh to build a satisfactory little life for himself. I would perhaps recommend this is as perfect introduction to Nabokov's work. A really, really great book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ping Pong Pnin, 18 July 2013
This review is from: Pnin (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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. That is not to say the book is bad, anything but in fact, I just seem to be holding it to higher standard on account of it being a Nabokov.

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.

A solid, funny (in some cases belly-achingly so) and enjoyable novel the only flaw for me is in the last chapter - I can see why its necessary but it just seemed to go too far past the end. Its worth reading just to meet and get to know Pnin.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Endearing and funny book..., 3 Mar 2002
This review is from: Pnin (Hardcover)
This story about a russian professor named Timofey Pnin who lives in an american town in the fifties is an extremely satisfying read.It's funny and the proffesor is also quite endearing. nabokov describes the difference between Russia and The United states with extreme wit. The book is mostly about the Pnin who tries to figure out these americans.He loathes that they call him Tim and he tries to adopt. Pnin himself is a bit of an odd character not very sympathetic but even so a quite endearing. There isn't really a story but more a series of events in Pnin's life with little flashbacks to his life in Russia. It's great to see the difference between a quite old culture with a lot of traditions and a very specific lifestyle (read some Tolstoj to witness the complexities and richness of Russian culture)and a quite new culture and country and how these two sometimes collide. If you want to start reading Nabokov this is a great start to reading his work.Lightharted funny and sharp.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful but confusing, 11 Sep 2008
This review is from: Pnin (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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 inability to use English idioms and to be honest the hilarity soon wears off. However Nabokove is able with great beauty and passion recreate the feelings of isolation, frustration and pity that emigres undoubtedly felt for their lost homeland. The style of the novel can be slightly confsuing as it jumps about a bit in time. Overall a good book but not a great book.
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Pnin (Penguin Modern Classics)
Pnin (Penguin Modern Classics) by Vladimir Nabokov (Paperback - 7 Dec 2000)
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