Pnin
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Pnin

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  9,014 ratings  ·  633 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
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Published October 20th 2010 by Brilliance Audio (first published 1953)
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Geoff
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
AC
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
Evan
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
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
David
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 revie...more
Jonfaith
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...more
Chanda
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
Teresa
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.
umberto
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 as...more
Askwhy
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
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.
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
Lavinia
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...more
Daniel
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
Manny
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
craige
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
Rob
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
Jennifer
I hated this book but I loved Pnin the character and even as I struggled to make it through to the end, I was still kind of in awe at Nabokov's brilliance as a writer.
The unpronounceable Pnin is a professor originally from Russia who has emigrated to the U.S. after years spent in France. Pnin is an egghead, a wonk, who hopelessly struggles with the English language and lacks social skills. His first wife, an untalented poet and psychologist, duped him. His fellow professors laugh at him behind...more
James
This was nearly five stars. I say 'nearly' simply because the story lacked a certain sort of gravitas I reserve for my five star selections.

But, as a work of literature, the quality of the writing is first rate. Nabokov can write descriptions that defy explanation--metaphors and figurative couplings that seem plucked from the weirdest places and yet manage to be somehow completely appropriate.

This story has very little plot. It's about Pnin, a Russian immigrant/scholar living in America. He's...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...more
Adam Floridia
On the verge of finishing Lolita, Nabokov created the character Pnin as a "brief sunny escape from [Lolita's:] intolerable spell." Quite a far cry from Humbert Humbert's personality, Pnin is a very likeable, quirky character. For some reason, his many minor comical (and at times sad) misadventures reminded me vaguely of Mr. Bean. Really, though, just like his name, Pnin is very original. Nabokov underscores this fact by using it as both a verb and an adjective to describe his mannerisms: "the pl...more
Jan-Maat
Later Nabokov, oddly sweet compared with the more tart early novels. Bad poetry is savaged only once.

The eponomous Pnin, an aging ex-patriate academic engaged in teaching Russian in small town America, is the hero of this oddly optimistic and even joyful novel. The wonder of putting trainers in the washing mashine and listening to them running round or being taken as some kind of saint or angel as he sits broad smiling with a large greek cross on his bare chest under a sunlamp outweigh the exile...more
Justin Evans
I confess I find less to marvel at in this book than others. Pnin is a glorious character, and his travails are well worth reading. Nabokov's style is worth grappling with, and I get the feeling the book gives you a very nice glimpse of ex-pat Russian life in mid-century America. And the campus satire is perfectly done. For all of that, the vignettes are hit and miss; Pnin's dinner party is perfect, but the histories of Pnin's relationships aren't particularly interesting.

All of this, by the wa...more
Jeremy
It might not have the giddy, full-bore weirdness of Lolita or Pale Fire, but Nabokov is such a rich, generous prose stylist that its still wonderful. The tragicomic sensibility at play here is perfectly developed, Pnin bounces between humorous set pieces of cultural and linguistic confusion and university gossip, and more sombre moments of anxiety and sadness as he tries to come to grips with being an intellectual in exile from his native Russia. It's poignant and very funny.
Guy Portman
Despite having lived in America for many years, conservative and eccentric Russian professor Timofei Pnin has never fully grasped the subtleties of the English language. This, along with his rather comical appearance, peculiar habits, set routines and rather limited social skills, has resulted in Pnin being a constant source of humour for his colleagues at Waindell College.

The story consists of various episodes in our protagonist’s solitary, academic, cocoon-dwelling life being recounted by an u...more
Shawn
This is some impressive writing! I found several of the chapters to be incredible scenes--in much the same way that a great paining is a great painting. The book is a character sketch in many ways, and I was "into" this one not because of a plot or suspense, but because of the beautiful ways Nabokov painted his characters and episodes. Several times I found certain sentences to be delightful. I commented to my wife while reading that I was encountering roughly one unfamiliar word per page, but t...more
Michael Scott
I liked very little about Nabokov's Pnin. The story starts from the paradox that social misfitting can be rewarded by the (American) society. Pnin, the Russian exile who cannot speak proper English, German, or French, is a professor of German Studies at an obscure (but high-nosed) American university. He is clumsy, socially inept, unable to teach, yet caring and intelligent (in his own way). Prone to the situational disaster, Pnin misses the recommended train or forgets the written speech, and t...more
aaron
Pnin is a witty, intelligent and moving tale of the émigré experience, focalized in the petty and tragicomic perspective of the Russian academic working within an Ivy institution (we can suppose, from contextual detail, that it is based on Cornell). The book's expression is marvelously understated and terse in sentiment, in which it strikes me as a tale in the Chekhovian tradition. This literary pessimism is, though, commingled with a flowing Francophile loquacity; there is a most definite lyric...more
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
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Short & Sweet...: Pnin 62 38 Dec 22, 2013 04:56PM  
Brain Pain: Discussion - Week Two - Pnin - Chapter Five - Seven 11 27 Sep 23, 2013 06:54AM  
Brain Pain: Discussion - Week One - Pnin - Chapter One thru Four 8 24 Sep 08, 2013 10:47AM  
Nabokov's Pnin 2 93 Aug 17, 2013 09:00PM  
Brain Pain: * Questions, Resources, and General Banter - Pnin 1 19 Aug 04, 2013 06:46AM  
Brain Pain: * Schedule for Discussions - Pnin 1 20 Aug 03, 2013 10:47AM  
Nabokov in Three ...: Impressions 1 2 Nov 12, 2012 06:28PM  
  • Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years
  • Augustus Carp, Esq. By Himself Being The Autobiography Of A Really Good Man
  • The Enchanted Wanderer: Selected Tales
  • Pictures from an Institution
  • Envy
  • On the Eve
  • Slouching Towards Kalamazoo
  • Petersburg
  • The History Man
  • Loitering With Intent
  • Anglo-Saxon Attitudes
  • Eugene Onegin, Vol. I (Text)
  • Before Lunch
  • The Unbearable Bassington
  • Bouvard and Pecuchet
  • The Foundation Pit
  • Brewster's Millions
  • The Adventures of Roderick Random
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Russian: Владимир Владимирович Набоков

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 cited as his most important novel, and is at any rate his most widely known one, exhibiting the love of intrica...more
More about Vladimir Nabokov...
Lolita Pale Fire Invitation to a Beheading Speak, Memory Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle

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“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.” 331 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.” 35 likes
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