Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov

Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov

Pnin is a hilarious, sad, nostalgic portrait of a man lost in a new era of his life — and lost in a new era of the world. It is a surprisingly short novel (I expected longer). Set in post-WWII America, the novel revolves around Professor Pnin, a Russian social scientist, who, after leaving Russia is reduced to adjunct teaching Russian language courses at a small, liberal arts college. The story swivels through his memories, opportunities missed and some that he probably should have missed. This is a classic character study. Nabokov’s book came first, but if you like John William’s Stoner and Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day then you will probably enjoy Pnin. The prose is similar, though told from a 3rd person perspective; Nabokov’s use of words is concise, precise, and evocative. It has a flaw; merely that it focuses so solely on Pnin, that the other characters, particularly its female characters, are far less developed.

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