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 misunder-standings, all the while falling victim both to subtle academic conspiracies and to the manipulations of a deliberately unreliable narrator.
Initially an almost grotesquely comic figure, Pnin gradually grows in stature by contrast with those who laugh at him. Whether taking the wrong train to deliver a lecture in a language he has not mastered or throwing a faculty party during which he learns he is losing his job, the gently preposterous hero of this enchanting novel evokes the reader’s deepest protective instinct.
Serialized in The New Yorker and published in book form in 1957, Pnin brought Nabokov both his first National Book Award nomination and hitherto unprecedented popularity.
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
“Hilariously funny and of a sadness.” –Graham Greene
“Pnin’s vita, though its essence is saintliness, is yet a work of brilliant magic and fabulous laughter.” –The New Republic
“Fun and satire are just the beginning of the rewards of this novel. Generous, bewildered Pnin, that most kindly and impractical of men, wins our affection and respect.” –Chicago Tribune
“Nabokov can move you to laughter in the way the masters can–to laughter that is near to tears.” –The Guardian