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3.89  ·  Rating details ·  15,585 Ratings  ·  1,135 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 1950s. Pnin struggles to maintain his dignity through a series of comic and sad misunderstandings, all the while falling victim both to subtle acad ...more
Hardcover, 143 pages
Published April 6th 2004 by Everyman's Library (first published 1957)
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Jul 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any serious student of literature & language.
I have never read anything like Pnin before. Nabokov uses language like no other writer I have ever read before. I am riveted by this book.


The strength of "Pnin" is its title character, Russian emigrate and professor, Timofey Pnin. A protagonist could hardly be more charming and lovable, and his cultural and linguistic difficulties in adapting to America afford Nabokov plenty of opportunity for jokes and puns. The novel is astoundingly amusing, and the prose a sheer delight.
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Stephen P
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
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
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
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 revi
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
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
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
من با جادویی که از خوندن لولیتا همچنان توو سرم بود و هست رفتم سراغ این کتاب و خوب بسیار متفاوت بود.نمی شد به جز شخصیت واحد رابطه ی چندان منطقی ای بین فصل هاش پیدا کرد و طنز کار هم چندان پر کشش نیست.
داستان این پروفسور خارجی عجیب ِ منظم ِ تنها غمگین می کنه خواننده اش رو.دلت براش می سوزه اما همذات پنداری کردن باهاش سخته خیلی. یه فکری رو انداخت توو سرم از عاقبت همه ی اونایی که مهاجرت می کنند و به هزار و یک دلیل نمی تونند خودشون رو حتا بعد گذشت سال ها وفق بدن با اون چه اطرافشون در جریانه. غمگین ام ک
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia, usa, ebook
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
Giss Golabetoon
ناباكوف، چى ميشه گفت؟
كند بود داستان ولى دو فصل اخر نميدونم سرعت متن بيشتر شد يا ترجمه، ولى رو به بهبودى رفت،
كلا ناباكوف رو درك نميكنم و همه ترسم ازينه كه روزى بخوام لوليتارو بخونم
پى نوشت: به نظرم ترجمه ناباكوف به فارسى كار سختيه، توصيفات طولانى اى داره كه تو فارسى به جمله هاى خسته كننده اى تبديل ميشن كه خيلى زود سررشته شون از دست ميره و چيزى جز يه خواب آلودگى وحشتناك باقى نميزاره
May 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-english
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
This was my first experience with Nabokov since Lolita, which I read in perhaps 2008 and didn’t particularly appreciate. I was surprised just how funny and readable it was. I picked it up in a charity shop for the description: a comic novel about a Russian professor on an American college campus. And while there are indeed shades of Lucky Jim – I certainly laughed out loud at Timofey Pnin’s verbal gaffes and slapstick falls – there’s more going on here. In this episodic narrative spanning 1950–4 ...more
Mar 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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
Tieu uyen
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Irony, mild pathos, fun, poetry and tragedy of life wonderfully united, through the intriguing invention of a narrator both sympathetic and unreliable.

Meraviglioso incontro di ironia, pathos sommesso, comicità, poesia e tragicità della vita.
Intrigante costruzione di un narratore partecipe e inaffidabile al tempo stesso.
Vit Babenco
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
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
Nelson Zagalo
Nabokov é um dos escritores que mais respeito, nomeadamente pelo seu virtuosismo formal, ou capacidade para laborar o texto como se de uma jóia se tratasse. Contudo nesta obra esse labor torna-se excessivo, adquirindo estatuto de predominância sobre tudo o resto, não apenas sobre a história, mas sobre a própria narrativa.

Em termos de história e seus personagens, temos um universo próximo de “Lolita”, uma América pastoral dos anos 1950, personagens principais isolados e com muitos tiques, mas co
May 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mother-rus
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
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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...
Dec 16, 2008 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paula M.
Nabokov sabe contar uma história, não há dúvida, é um autêntico malabarista, mas desesperei em alguns momentos devido a algumas longas e minuciosas descrições.
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Tornare a leggere Nabokov dopo tantissimi anni da Lolita, è affascinante e regala attimi piacevoli, anche se lascia sempre un briciolo di malinconia.
Basandosi anche sulla sua vita, Nabokov racconta di Pnin, che potrebbe anche essere una sorta di alter-ego dell'autore. Pnin è un emigré che dalla Russia giunge in America ad insegnare al college, ma non riesce ad adattarsi alla nuova vita, alla lingua e alla scuola con le sue regole. Oltre a tutti questi problemi, anche la sua vita privata cominci
Jun 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you had a teacher or professor who made a lasting impression on you for good or bad reasons, you would most likely love Pnin. Vladimir Nabokov created in Pnin a memorable character I felt great affection for and almost a need to protect.

Professor Timofey Pnin was a Russian immigrant who taught Russian in Wandell College in the U.S. in the 1950s. When the novel began, Pnin was on the wrong train to deliver a lecture! This was in spite of all the careful planning he had undertaken. I imagined h
Inderjit Sanghera
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful. Funny, beautifully crafted, and very sad.
The short length works in its favor I think - there's so much elided emotion here that plays well with Nabokov's precise style.
Mar 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nabokov, modern-lit
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
Hossein Sharifi
There are some beloved women whose eyes, by a chance blend of brilliancy and shape, affect us not directly, not at the moment of shy perception, but in a delayed and cumulative burst of light when the heartless person is absent, and the magic agony abides, and its lenses and lamps are installed in the dark. ( Pnin, 59)

confusing style of writing, known as "Nabokovian" style, made Pnin difficult to follow and read.
Although I adore Nabokov, I give his Pnin 3 stars ,as it's bloody boring !
Teresa Proença
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
João Fernandes
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"If one were quite sincere with oneself, no conscience, and hence no consciousness, could be expected to subsist in a world where such things as Mira's death were possible. One had to forget - because one could not live with the thought that this graceful, fragile, tender young woman with those eyes, that smile, those gardens and snows in the background, had been brought in a cattle car to an extermination camp and killed by an injection of phenol into the heart, into the gentle heart one had h ...more
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ah, Professor Pnin, you stand up well to a re-reading. Though, to be fair, I remember nothing of my first go-around except a general sense that it was excellent and the scene where he recalls the book from himself.

It is, of course, filled with funny little moments like that one, sometimes at Pnin's expense, sometimes others'. I liked, for example, this about young minds:

Again in the margins of library books earnest freshmen inscribed such helpful glosses as 'Description of nature,' or 'Irony';
Boekencoach Anna
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Once in a while I come across a novel that blows my mind away and this is one of them. This is by far my favorite of Nabokov and the writing style is first rate. Pnin is one of the most sympathetic characters I have ever encountered. I laughed so hard because the way he acts and at the same time I had tears in my eyes when nothing seemed to go right for him. The line between comedy and tragedy is in this short novel very thin and that is exactly what great fiction is. That wonderful thin line th ...more
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious, though with sadness. Nabokov is absolutely brilliant with language and descriptions, just pure genius.
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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 38 Dec 28, 2014 12:40AM  
Short & Sweet Treats: Pnin 62 58 Dec 22, 2013 04:56PM  
Brain Pain: Discussion - Week Two - Pnin - Chapter Five - Seven 11 39 Sep 23, 2013 06:54AM  
Brain Pain: Discussion - Week One - Pnin - Chapter One thru Four 8 36 Sep 08, 2013 10:47AM  
Nabokov's Pnin 2 108 Aug 17, 2013 09:00PM  
  • The American Years
  • Pictures from an Institution
  • Diary of a Superfluous Man
  • Envy
  • Summer in Baden-Baden
  • The History Man
  • The Adventures of Roderick Random
  • The Adventures of Gil Blas
  • Fireflies
  • My Search for Warren Harding
  • Before Lunch
  • Petersburg
  • Augustus Carp, Esq. By Himself Being the Autobiography of a Really Good Man
  • Red Cavalry
  • The Letter Killers Club
  • Anglo-Saxon Attitudes
  • England, Their England
  • The Polyglots
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 frequent
“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.” 491 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.” 65 likes
More quotes…