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Pnin Paperback – June 18, 1989
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Four girls on a trip to Paris suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control. Learn More
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
In the writing of this work, Nabokov breaks all the rules. His shifts in points-of-view, his sometimes favoring of lengthy exposition over scene, his dropping of plots and subplots just as they get going all work precisely because he is such a skilled novelist and knows the effect of abandoning conventions. In dashing the reader's hopes, his style takes tenacious hold of the reader's imagination; we learn to trust the voice - even if we shouldn't. This last is what is truly brilliant about the novel: we allow ourselves to be swept into a story of non-events and pathos, laughing along the way and becoming in essence yet another of Pnin's mocking colleagues.
Students of literature and book discussion groups can discover a wealth of topics here: Is the narrator reliable?Read more ›
It is the account of a Timofey Pnin, professor of Classical Russian Literature at Waindell College, a course failing year after year to garner deserved interest. The novel is a succession of carefully blended time morphs, the beginning and end forming a kind of cycle, wherein the reader is made privy to various comical blunders of Pnin's academic life, as well as his painful memories of an exiled Russian past, bloody revolutions and a war-torn Europe. Pnin is proud to have adopted America as a new home, being largely oblivious of his total incompetence in the English language and his role as the butt of many cruel and childish jokes, perpetrated by the rest of Waindell staff. He lives alone, with the pangs of unrequited love and a son whom he barely has the chance to see. Pnin is a charming character, capable of inspiring a spectrum of different emotions.
Such is the plot on surface, deceptively simplistic, though having a complex clockwork running behind scenes. Things take a surprising turn when the narrator is revealed, and Nabokov himself (Mr.N) makes a bewildering appearance in his own book, inviting a complete re-interpretation of many key events. The careful reader will be left pondering the motifs of the squirrel, the identity of the novel's `Evil Maker' and the significance of Pnin's flashbacks. Some logical paradoxes are posed by the novel: there are puzzles to be worked out.
The work is slender and as such is considered one of Nabokov's more accessible novels, which can be enjoyed on a few different levels.Read more ›
In this one slim volume, readers will, on occasion, find a wry, sardonic grin spread across their faces at the description of the ubiquitous college campus, its students, its not-too-illustrious faculty and their pretensions, its too-efficient librarian, and the machinations of campus politics. They will smile with compassion at Timofey Pnin's efforts, never quite successful, to master the peculiarities of English, one chapter, for example, being devoted to his hosting a "house-heating" party. They will feel their protectiveness rise for this essentially good man who continually suffers the slings and arrows of cruel fortune.
Analyses of PNIN speak of the instances of bathos in the book, but that word, to me, suggests an exaggeration of pathos so great that the reader is repulsed by its artificiality. I do not find Nabokov's writing to be that crude or "over the top." Rather, the pathos is almost understated.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Halfway through you'll be excused for thinking this nothing more than a light and breezy collection of amusing scenes about a fairly pathetic character, but the last chapter leaves... Read morePublished 16 days ago by datac
Pnin is a fun satire, and really a forerunner of the campus novel. Pnin's character, the hapless, feckless professor who begins his journey through this novel with a misdirection,... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Whit Frazier
There's an unwritten rule among many readers that if nothing interesting happens in the first fifty pages of a novel, you're probably best off putting it to one side. Read morePublished 5 months ago by MR N E MURRELL
When i received the book, it had such tobacco smell i had to put it out on the table outside but to no avail it still smells really awful. I'v got no choice but to use it.Published 11 months ago by Lynn Shin
This book has left me with a lingering melancholy. With its shifting perspectives and unreliable narrator, combined with that narrator's masterful prose, I could not help but fall... Read morePublished 13 months ago by P. M. West