PNIN by Vladimir Nabokov

PNIN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This sad-amusing little book is a series of short stories about Professor Timofey Pnin, an emigre Russian intellectual and teacher of Russian at Waindell College. Pnin is lovingly drawn with a mixture of nostalgia and sharp insight that produces a detailed picture of a type that became familiar on U.S. campuses during and after World War II. The appeal of the book lies in the appeal of Pnin himself, the European intellectual coping with American civilization, particularly as manifested in the college community, the exile remembering his past as though it were a sickness, the sentimental man in confused relations with others, a Chaplinesque figure who is the victim of inanimate forces. True, there are occasional jabs at psychologists, incompetent or ignorant or cruel members of the faculty, etc., but in this field Nabokov cannot match such assassins as Mary McCarthy and Randall Jarrell. Nabokov has more compassion and is at his best with wry humor. Reservations must be expressed on the stories as stories, however. The point he is trying to make in each is quite clear, but his New Yorker technique is so highly developed that the stories often are formless. And why do books which have appeared in the New Yorker rarely get proper editing, so that the reader is constantly having people and events re-explained to him?
Pub Date: March 7th, 1957
ISBN: 1400041988
Page count: 186pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1957




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