Thursday, 9 July 2015

Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov (3.5/5)

First published: 1957
Page count: 208
The back says: 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 comprehend, yet he stages a faculty party to end all faculty parties forever.

I say: It feels like I should have more to say about Pnin than I do, and maybe it’s because I insisted on reading other people’s praising reviews about it and failing to feel the same way.

I’m not sure.

The story itself wasn’t confusing, in fact, it was very straightforward and therein lies my confusion: it should be boring because I found Pnin boring, but his boring aspects also made him somewhat lovable. There’s nothing special about him, really, and nothing exciting happens in the book, but I still kept on reading because I was waiting for something.


The saving grace is Nabokov’s writing with the underlying hint at magnificence. I feel that since the narrator is talking about Pnin there must be something special about him or his life.

Perhaps I just didn’t get it...

3.5/5 because of the writing and the ending.

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