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Pnin

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3.89  ·  Rating details ·  20,425 ratings  ·  1,640 reviews
One of the best-loved of Nabokov’s novels, Pnin features his funniest and most heart-rending character. Professor Timofey Pnin is a haplessly disoriented Russian émigré precariously employed on an American college campus in the 1950's. Pnin struggles to maintain his dignity through a series of comic and sad misunderstandings, all the while falling victim both to subtle aca ...more
Hardcover, 184 pages
Published April 6th 2004 by Everyman's Library (first published 1957)
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Patricia No, not at all. In fact, Nabokov wrote this new character as a relief from the disgusting and cruel character of Humbert Humbert.

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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Kenny
Jul 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any serious student of literature & language.
“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.”
Pnin ~~ Vladimir Nabokov


1
I have never read anything like Pnin ~~ Nabokov uses language like no other writer I've read before. I am riveted by both this book and Nabokov”s writing.

The strength of "Pnin" is its title character, Russian emigrate and professor, Timofey Pnin.
...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A promised land isn’t a land of milk and honey for everyone…
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 defeat an especially malicious windmill.
‘Yes,’ said Pnin with a sigh, ‘in
...more
Geoff
Sep 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: volodya
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
Fionnuala
Sep 28, 2015 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The other half
Recommended to Fionnuala by: Half the reading world
The Revenge of Timofey Pnin

The traffic light was red. Timofey Pavlovich Pnin sat patiently at the steering wheel of his blue sedan directly behind a giant truck loaded with barrels of Budweiser, the inferior version of the Budvar he'd enjoyed in his Prague student days. On the passenger seat of the sedan, his paws resting on the open window, sat Gamlet, the stray dog Pnin had been feeding for the past few months, slowly encouraging the timid animal's trust. Gamlet had been unsure about the trip,
...more
Steven Godin
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Whilst a certain novel featuring a middle-aged man infatuating over his seduction of a 12-year-old girl was causing a storm in the literary world, along came the gentle breeze that was Pnin. Another remarkable character in a career littered with remarkable characters. After arriving in America in 1940, with wife Véra, and son Dmitri, as virtually broke refugees from Nazi-occupied France, Nabokov was able to find employment as a university teacher of Russian and comparative literature, first at i ...more
Violet wells
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: faves
I recently read Doctor Zhivago which Nabokov hated. You could say these two books are the antithesis of each other. Zhivago strives to depict a poetic vision of real life on a huge canvas and find meaning therein; Pnin is self-pleasuring art for art’s sake on a tiny canvas. Nabokov isn’t remotely interested in “real life” or deep meaning or huge canvases. He passes over the Russian Revolution in a couple of sentences whereas a description of a room that will only feature once in the entire novel ...more
Fergus
Jul 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
I read this wonderful novel around the end of 1969, when I was drawing inescapably narrowing conclusions about the necessary but rather depressing ordinary events of my daily life at college.

It fit my mood perfectly.

All that winter and spring my moodiness grew as I was carried into the inevitable - and to me now, rather predictable - whirlpool of events commonly recognized as coming of age.

My identification with hapless Professor Pnin, eternal victim, had thus been made complete.

Shall I dare sa
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
485. Pnin, Vladimir Nabokov

Pnin is Vladimir Nabokov's 13th novel and his fourth written in English; it was published in 1957. Pnin features his funniest and most heart-rending character.

Professor Timofey Pnin is a haplessly disoriented Russian émigré precariously employed on an American college campus in the 1950's.

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 manipulation
...more
William2
An novel of college life. Martin Amis in a review of The Original of Laura has deemed it—along with VN’s Lolita and Despair—“immortal.” It’s certainly every bit as good as Lucky Jim but with a Russian “ahksent.” ...more
Violeta
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Delightful! I can think of no other word to describe this book. It had me smiling on every other page and marveling at Nabokov’s wit. But of course the humor only thinly veils the underlying sadness.
Pnin is one of the most moving characters I’ve come across; infinitely amusing,stubborn, generous and poignantly insistent on protecting his own private universe.
Nabokov’s subtle satire of campus life is exquisite, as is his depiction of Russian émigré life. I read that he wrote Pnin simultaneously
...more
Luís
A little novel by Vladimir Nabokov features Pnin, an immigrant of Russian origin and professor at an American university; he's an endearing, distracted, and funny character that most of those around him consider a half-failure. He receives a significant number of tiles during his life, which the narrator gives us an overview of him. Most of the novel shows us its interactions with academia, and the author takes the opportunity to describe and portray it. The main attraction is the writing of V. ...more
Seemita
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
...more
Mattia Ravasi
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Video review

The passage where Pnin reads that magazine cartoon must be the funniest in all American literature!
...more
Duane
I would call this 1957 Nabokov novel a tragicomedy, leaning more to the comedy. Timofey Pnin is a likeable Russian emigre, a nice man, maybe too nice for his own good. Pnin is an assistant professor at fictional Wainsdell College, probably modeled after Cornell University where Nabokov taught. Even though Pnin has become an American citizen, he still struggles with the English language. He has difficultly being understood by his students and his colleagues. He makes his way through life in an ho ...more
Agnieszka

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 sight, please
...more
Ritwik
Jul 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  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.
T
...more
Jan-Maat
Later Nabokov, oddly sweet compared with the more tart early novels. Bad poetry is savaged only once.

The eponymous Pnin, an ageing expatriate 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 (Sneakers in certain jurisdictions) in the washing machine 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 ches
...more
Paul Bryant
Several short stories about an absent minded professor rammed together and called a novel (but that’s okay, people do it all the time), Pnin is almost beloved by readers who aren’t me. Professor Pnin with his hilariously broken English is allegedly endearing but I was not even slightly endeared. This was footling stuff. He gets on the wrong train. He nearly misses giving an evening lecture. He buys a football for a kid who doesn’t like football. He doesn’t realise his job is on the line. He talk ...more
Jonfaith
May 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mother-rus
1.24.21 Update:
I recalled the concluding party scene in vivid detail, so clearly that I suspect I had read this at least one other time in the intervening quarter of a century. Nabokov offers us a portrait of Timofey Pnin, one both in sepia and brilliant color; one in a kaleidoscopic manner, episodic in measures equally hilarious and tragic. The fourth wall is pierced repeatedly and I’m sure there are further Easter eggs if one were to apply the scrutiny.

This is a delightful novel, part emigre c
...more
Richard Derus
Aug 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I seldom attempt to review Nabokov's work. It is important to me; it needs no introduction to its natural readers; therefore, what the heck is the point?

But this article made me wish that the Great Suppurating Body Politic could be forced to read it, under intelligent and compassionate guidance, as the Afghan refugees (the pathetic few our country can be arsed to grudge space to) come on board here: https://themillions.com/2017/03/did-v...

Nothing can force Know-Nothings to attempt to learn. That
...more
Darwin8u
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Why not leave their private sorrows to people? Is sorrow not, one asks, the only thing in the world people really possess?”
― Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin

description

This isn't just the last nail in my Nabokov coffin, this is the ground thrown on the coffin. Finito sweet benito. I've now read all his ficiton (both those written in Russian and translated into English later and those written in English). It is kinda sad. But so too is Pnin. I'd call the novel melancholy, but it isn't quite sad or melancholy. There
...more
Stephen P(who no longer can participate due to illness)
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
...more
Andrea
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, fiction
Such a slim little novel, not much more than a plump novella, but so dense! I had expected to wade through a comic novel based on an extended anecdote, but instead I wound up slowly savoring every word. After the elusive Pale Fire I think my readerly mind has actually made contact with Nabokov's writerly world. Now, if I can only read Lolitawithout James Mason butting in... ...more
TBV
"‘I haf nofing,’ wailed Pnin between loud, damp sniffs, ‘I haf nofing left, nofing, nofing!’"

'I haf nofing... nofing, nofing, nofing to say' wailed TBV between loud, damp sniffs*. However, "The cat, as Pnin would say, cannot be hid in a bag", so it has to be said that TBV was totally beguiled by Professor Timofey Pnin's "Pninizing" and "his unique Pninian worth".

#
*It is to be noted that the sniffs are due to laughter, but the humour is simply a foil to the underlying sadness.
...more
Ethan
Jun 06, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
About 25% of the way through Vladimir Nabokov's Pnin, which is consistently ranked as one of his three best books, along with Lolita (which I didn't really care for; the book is known for making the reader feel sympathy toward Humbert Humbert, a pedophile, but I was only ever repulsed by him) and Pale Fire (which I consider to be a masterpiece), I was convinced I was being awed by one of the greatest novels ever written.

Professor Pnin, the clumsy, awkward, eccentric, hapless Russian emigre to t
...more
Smiley
Mar 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nabokov, novel

3.70-star

Admittedly, I found less hilarity in my second revisit due to some of his unusual lengthy sentences (an exemplary extracted one below - to add later) in which I couldn't help being hypnotized and lulled into drowsiness and soon my slumber overcame me, finding it as not being proud of such a syndrome. However, I focused on his other interesting points worth looking at and talking about to share with other Nabokov readers in this Goodreads community.

By means of his English wordplay from
...more
Anthony Vacca
Sep 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jacob Overmark
Timofey Pnin … poor old fellow. You have been analysed to an extent you would otherwise only expect on a couch at the psychiatrist.
After all, you are only a slightly confused middle aged Russian male émigré trying to navigate in scholarly surroundings. You are not without ambition, you are capable in your own field, but you will never reach the halls of Ivy League.
You have taken with you the traditions and schools of thought from your homeland, but it is never enough to secure you the break-th
...more
David
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, oulipo-mo
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 re
...more
Cody
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nabo-wabo
So a friend says to me, What are you reading? I says, Pnin. Then this guy says, and I quote, “poorly written.” So I says, you gotta be fuggin’ kidding me—we’re talking about fuggin’ Nabokov here. Guy says, “shitty book.” That’s when I knew for sure that being dropped on his head repeatedly during his childhood and adolescence had had an effect on my friend, Mickey. Whatareyougonnadoaboutit? He’s a good guy. Jersey kid. Maybe that explains it…

[DISCLAIMER: The above was in no way meant to offend t
...more
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Reading 1001: Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov 9 26 Dec 19, 2018 11:51AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please add page numbers to ISBN: 9780380008193 2 12 Mar 07, 2017 11:14AM  
All About Books: Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov (Leslie & Jenny & Pink) 26 40 Dec 28, 2014 12:40AM  
Short & Sweet Treats: Pnin 60 63 Dec 22, 2013 04:56PM  
Brain Pain: Discussion - Week Two - Pnin - Chapter Five - Seven 11 42 Sep 23, 2013 06:54AM  

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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 a big interest in chess problems.

Nabokov's Lolita (1955) is frequ
...more

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