Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Pnin” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  11,259 ratings  ·  787 reviews
Pnin is a professor of Russian at an American college who takes the wrong train to deliver a lecture in a language he cannot master. Pnin is a tireless lover who writes to his treacherous Liza: "A genius needs to keep so much in store, and thus cannot offer you the whole of himself as I do." Pnin is the focal point of subtle academic conspiracies he cannot begin to compreh ...more
ebook, 208 pages
Published February 16th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1953)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Pnin, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Pnin

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
If one wanted to undertake a neat little study of Nabokov’s fictional prowess, they should read Lolita and Pnin back to back. They were written concurrently, in little middle-American roadside motels (the ones that are chronicled so abundantly in Lolita) during Nabokov and Véra’s summer-long butterfly hunting tours. Pnin was Nabokov’s antidote and respite from Humbert’s grotesqueries, the opposite pole of character, and we should marvel at the achievement that while he was creating the most erud ...more
Nov 25, 2015 Fionnuala added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The other half
Recommended to Fionnuala by: Half the reading world
October 1st, 2015

The Revenge of Timofey Pnin

At the traffic lights, Timofey Pnin sat patiently at the steering wheel of a pale blue sedan behind a giant truck loaded with barrels of American Budweiser, the inferior imitation of the Budvar he had so enjoyed in Prague in his student days. On the passenger seat, his paws resting on the open window, sat Gamlet, the stray dog Pnin had been feeding regularly for the past couple of weeks, slowly encouraging the timid animal's trust. Gamlet had been unsu
The evening lessons were always the most difficult. Drained of ambulating the willing grey cells throughout the carnage of day classes, the young readers, almost resignedly, filled the quiet room at the end of the corridor. A subdued tête-à-tête, almost at once, broke into a charlatan laughter and the very next moment, died in their bosoms as Professor Pnin entered the classroom.

Straightening the meagre crop on his head and adjusting (and re-adjusting) his tortoise-shell glasses, he cleared his
Aug 12, 2015 Ritwik rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ritwik by: Seemita

Coming from the master word-smith, a critic and the dictator of the reading choices of legions of readers comes a book backed by a blurb which compares Nobokov to a standard stand-up comedian with a professional capacity of making the audience laugh hysterically. Sad to say, the humour in the books failed to appeal me and was eclipsed by the unfortunate tribulations that influenced the demure and naive professor Timofey Pnin's reputation amongst his associates and the staff of the University.

I had a professor , in fact he had no professor’s title , but we always addressed him that way . So , I had a professor who taught me maths . No , actually he was trying to teach me , he was doing his best to familiarize me with secrets of the queen of science . Alas ! I truly felt pity for him since I was stupendously immune to that knowledge . I was standing at the blackboard attempting to solve some mysterious to me equation and professor , waving his hand , would sigh then get out of my sig
Stephen P
If in these beginning pages Nabokov is laying out how to read this work I can only smile, which I have been doing unnoticed since I opened the covers, and conclude that beneath the voice of erudition lies the eye wink of humor, underlined by the cunning of acerbic wit. All of this, each line will contribute to the meaning of the narrative, while the narrative itself will be a major event.

I shouldn’t forget, even though I don’t know what it means at this point, but I am reading it aloud to mysel
Anthony Vacca
Poor, poor Pnin - pronounced pu-neen, or, as one character hears the name, "like a cracked ping pong ball" - is the somber hero and namesake of Nabokov's fourth and bittersweet novel written in English, and was composed partly in conjunction with Lolita as a vacation for the Russian writer from the parasitic mind of that particular novel's narrator, everyone's favorite European pedophile, Humbert Humbert, or just H.H. for short. But back to Pnin and poor, poor Pnin. Told from the point of view o ...more
I bought this for $1 on impulse late yesterday afternoon. Read the first 11 pages last night before bed after finishing Updike's "Rabbit, Run." Resumed reading at 8:30 am this morning with a short break for breakfast, became engrossed in it, had a short break for lunch at noon and finished at 2 minutes before 1 pm. It's a very short novel, only 191 pages and a very quick read. I found it thoroughly charming, gently humorous, nostalgic and somewhat insightful into old Russian culture. There's an ...more
Pnin may give the appearance of being a 'slight' work -- compared, at any rate, to Nabokov's alleged ( -- I say 'alleged', only because I have not yet read either Lolita or Pale Fire... I'm working up to them --) masterpieces. And so I see a lot of four and three stars. But in my (and it is not allegedly, but often demonstrated) uninformed opinion, this is a mistake -- this is a slight book, indeed! (The punctuation here is deliberate -- as I want to mislead you.) Written as he was finishing, or ...more
Reading "Pnin" by Vladimir Nabokov would require our familiarity regarding his writing style and his sense of humor. We may start with his "Collected Stories" (Penguin Books, 2010) since we can start with any story in which we can be interested and thus find its reading enjoyable. I would like to recommend the following:
1. A Letter that Never Reached Russia,
2. A Nursery Tale,
3. The Visit to the Museum
4. Solus Rex, and
5. First Love, etc.

Linguistically, this 169-page novel has presented Pnin, an a
The accumulation of consecutive rooms in his memory now resembled those displays of grouped elbow chairs on show, and beds, and lamps, and inglebooks which, ignoring all space-time distinctions, commingle in the soft light of a furniture store beyond which it snows, and the dusk deepens, and nobody really loves anybody.

Poor Professor Timofey Pnin! He just can't catch a break! I really enjoyed reading Pnin, as I enjoy reading just about everything by V. Nabokov, but I feel an inadequacy in revi
MJ Nicholls
I read Pnin in 2009 but reread the book today to decide whether my love merited buying an Everyman’s hardcover edition. Verdict? No. I’ll stick with Lolita in Everyman’s and, after a reread, possibly Pale Fire. Pnin is lighter, but by no means lexically less impressive, than Lolita and has more in common with the high-class comedies Pictures From an Institution or Lucky Jim than earlier, more cunning Nabokovs (the unreliable narrator twist isn’t as ingenious as Manny makes it sound). Updike’s Be ...more
matters appear hysterical on goodreads these days. Ripples of concern often appear daunting to the literate, cushioned by their e-devices and their caffienated trips to dusty book stores; why, the first appearence of crossed words often sounds like the goddamn apocalypse. Well, it can anyway. I find people are taking all of this way too seriously.

I had a rough day at work. It is again hot as hell outside and I just wanted to come home and listen to chamber music and read Gaddis until my wife co
Oh, I adore Nabokov. I hadn't read Pnin yet. In fact, I've yet to read a great deal of his work (Ada just kicks me in the face whenever I try her), but Lolita and Pale Fire are two of the most amazing things ever created, and I loved both Strong Opinions and Speak, Memory so much that my Crazy went squee and I now have a shadow Nabokov living in my head, offering notes on diverse subjects. Shadow Nabokov and I don't always agree, but he's one of the most delightful constructs my mind has ever ho ...more
Tieu uyen
Nhắc đến Nabokov người ta lập tức liên tưởng đến Lolita. Nhưng với nhiều người trong đó có mình, nhắc đến Nabokov mình lập tức liên tưởng đến nhà sưu tầm và nghiên cứu bướm. Thật đấy, chả đùa đâu. Lolita mang lại cho ông danh vọng, Pnin đã được hưởng sái khi xuất bản lần đầu, nhưng nếu một cuốn sách được tái bản 2 lần trong vòng 2 tuần sau ngày ra mắt, thì cũng đã nói lên được phần nào về độ hot hòn họt của nó. Bởi tư tưởng câu chuyện rất rõ ràng: tự do khát vọng vượt thoát được mọi chiều kích c ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'm confused as to why this is such a fan favorite. It starts out charming and funny but pretty quickly trails off into a bunch of vignettes about nothing that go nowhere. There's a strange focus on purely visual description to the exclusion of everything else -- for instance a lot of space is devoted to describing the appearance of the boarding school attended by the son of the central character's ex-wife, even though nothing actually happens there and the son is a minor character (much more va ...more
Pnin é um professor russo que emigra para os Estados Unidos. Tem alguma dificuldade de adaptação ao estilo de vida americano e, simultaneamente, deslumbra-se com a modernidade a que não está habituado, o que origina situações verdadeiramente hilariantes.

Um romance terno e muito bem escrito. Como pormenor, achei muito curioso o papel do narrador que no final se transforma na personagem principal.

Pnin foi o meu primeiro Nabokov e fiquei com muita vontade de ler outros livros do autor.
Reading Nabokov at any point in time is always a delightful experience but reading Pnin was even more so. Perhaps because this one of his more assessable novels (and one without a taboo subject), but it’s truly just brilliant. While the unfortunate incidents that occur in Pnin’s life were funny, there is always an underlying sadness to them. It’s difficult to laugh at someone so miserable—and yet, somehow, Nabokov manages both emotions in an appropriate balance, putting me through quite the turm ...more
What makes great fiction great? Not having taken any formal classes on the subject I can only proffer my own deliberations. I think the best works of literature are defined by their ability to have you laugh and think and cry, the ability in other words - forgive the tenacious D reference - to move you, while maintaining an ascetic commitment to artistic integrity and to speak in truths and not cliches, always. By such measures Pnin is unqualifiedly one of the great works of the 20th century and ...more
Vit Babenco
“Now a secret must be imparted. Professor Pnin was on the wrong train. He was unaware of it, and so was the conductor, already threading his way through the train to Pnin’s coach. As a matter of fact, Pnin at the moment felt very well satisfied with himself.”
Pnin is a stranger in a strange land – a learnt misfit in search of his singular niche, Don Quixote trying to win over an especially malicious windmill.
“‘Yes,’ said Pnin with a sigh, ‘intrigue is horrible, horrible. But, on the other side, h
I really liked it. At the beginning I didn't know whether to like or pity Pnin, but as I kept reading I grew fond of his clumsiness and all those comical and pathetic situations he faces. Nabokov's art of portrait keeps amazing me. Not only Pnin, but also minor characters are beautifully drawn.

I wish the Romanian edition had some sort of preface where the circumstances of writing Pnin were explained. Because it seems (thank God for Google) that Nabokov wrote Pnin while he was struggling to finis
Dave Russell
Nabokov, who spent his first twenty years in Czarist Russia and his next twenty in Germany and Paris before coming to America, is one of my favorite writers about America. His America--while not always factually accurate--is an enchanting fairyland where the events of the Old world past are repeated in a parodied form. The America that is seen through the eyes of this emigre always leaves me with a new appreciation for the delightful absurdities to be found in the small details of my country.
Inderjit Sanghera
Nabokov is commonly regarded merely as an aesthete; a writer who regarded art as a plaything, a wordsmith so obsessed with his verbosity that he disregarded any political, philosophical or human themes in his works, a writer who eschewed the idea that art had any purpose except to satisfy his own whims, a writer with a jejunish obsession with artifice and deception; “The most enchanting things in nature and art are based on deception.” (The Gift) Nabokov’s books are notoriously dense, full of un ...more
Terri Jacobson
Timofey Pnin is a 52-year old professor at a small college in upstate New York. He fled Lenin's Russia, got his college degree in Prague, and spent some time in France until World War II erupted. He came to America in 1940. Pnin is a comic character, and Nabokov's portrait of him is funny, but also deeply sympathetic. We see Pnin in a variety of crises--he takes the wrong train to a lecture, he has all his teeth removed, he gets lost while driving to a friend's house. Nabokov's writing is a joy ...more
Hugo Emanuel
"Pnin" debruça-se sobre... bem... Pnin, personagem que, contrariamente ao que poderia sugerir o facto de ter um romance dedicado á sua pessoa, parece ter muito pouco de heróico. Pnin é um emigrante russo que parece deparar-se com algumas dificuldades em ajustar-se á vida nos Estados Unidos, lecciona um curso universitário frequentado por um numero progressivamente menor de alunos, com algumas dificuldades em se exprimir na língua inglesa e cuja natureza excessivamente comedida e correcta leva a ...more
Richard Kramer
Every now and then a book comes to the door that at first you have to look down to see; it seems that small, and unimportant, barely able to reach the door bell. And then, almost without your knowing it, it grows. Soon it is a tree, then it divides and divides till it becomes a house, somehow the house you've been waiting to move into but could never quite describe. And you feel blessed when these things happen, and they're rare because no one can be blessed all the time.

PNIN is one of those bo
I really need to read more Nabokov. He has few, if any equals, in his mastery of the English language, and in the enjoyment he took in playing with words. That's the quality I loved most in "Lolita," and "Pnin" offers more of the same. As for the story, "Pnin" draws the reader in with its over-the-top comic portrait of Russian-born college professor Timofey Pnin and over the course of less than 200 pages turns him into a complete human being, often pitiable but never pathetic. The role of the na ...more
I remember perfectly where I was when I read this book. I had just arrived in France to spend my junior year of college abroad and I was feeling very alone. But this book completely transported me. When I reached the end I wanted to turn to the first page and start reading it all over again; it was that good. I won't say it's a particularly easy read. Nabokov makes you work to read all his books (except for Lolita) and sometimes I just need that extra work when I'm reading. And maybe it's having ...more
Ciascuno di noi ha il proprio metro di misura per valutare un libro letto. A onor del vero la sottoscritta ne ha più d’uno, perché spesso è d’istinto, quando ancora sto sotto l’effetto della lettura appena terminata, che assegno le stelline, senza rifletterci (e magari ripensandoci dopo). Nel caso di “Pnin”, non è andata così, ci ho pensato e mi sono detta: “ Come posso non dare cinque stelle a un romanzo che durante la lettura mi ha deliziato per lo stile raffinato e brillantissimo, mi ha diver ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
All About Books: Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov (Leslie & Jenny & Pink) 26 29 Dec 28, 2014 12:40AM  
Short & Sweet Treats: Pnin 62 52 Dec 22, 2013 04:56PM  
Brain Pain: Discussion - Week Two - Pnin - Chapter Five - Seven 11 31 Sep 23, 2013 06:54AM  
Brain Pain: Discussion - Week One - Pnin - Chapter One thru Four 8 31 Sep 08, 2013 10:47AM  
Nabokov's Pnin 2 102 Aug 17, 2013 09:00PM  
Brain Pain: * Questions, Resources, and General Banter - Pnin 1 22 Aug 04, 2013 06:46AM  
Brain Pain: This topic has been closed to new comments. * Schedule for Discussions - Pnin 1 20 Aug 03, 2013 10:47AM  
  • Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years
  • Pictures from an Institution
  • Envy
  • On the Eve
  • Before Lunch
  • Dreams of My Russian Summers
  • The Wimbledon Poisoner
  • England, Their England
  • The Letter Killers Club
  • The Adventures of Roderick Random
  • Red Cavalry
  • The History Man
  • Novel with Cocaine
  • The Case of Comrade Tulayev
  • Molloy
  • Bouvard and Pecuchet
  • The Road: Stories, Journalism, and Essays
  • The Eternal Husband and Other Stories
Russian: Владимир Владимирович Набоков

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin, was a Russian-American novelist. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist. He also made significant contributions to lepidoptery and had an interest in chess problems.

Nabokov's Lolita (1955) is frequently cit
More about Vladimir Nabokov...

Share This Book

34 trivia questions
1 quiz
More quizzes & trivia...
“Some people—and I am one of them—hate happy ends. We feel cheated. Harm is the norm. Doom should not jam. The avalanche stopping in its tracks a few feet above the cowering village behaves not only unnaturally but unethically.” 400 likes
“He was afraid of touching his own wrist. He never attempted to sleep on his left side, even in those dismal hours of the night when the insomniac longs for a third side after trying the two he has.” 46 likes
More quotes…