Sunday, May 7, 2017

"Pnin" by Vladimir Nabokov *****

  • Originally published in 1957
  • Russian author
  • Review:  What can I say about a writer who can take the time to include the following sentence after his two characters fall asleep for the night: "Presently all were asleep again.  It was a pity nobody saw the display in the empty street, where the auroral breeze wrinkled a large luminous puddle, making of the telephone wires reflected in it illegible lines of black zigzags."  He is eloquent, lyrical, evocative and more.  That doesn't even touch on the story itself, which is an apparently timeless tale of an immigrant, a nostalgic and brilliant one, who is eternally underestimated and made a caricature by his intellectual peers & colleagues.  Pnin is a sort of Charlie Chaplinesque figure. (in fact, Nabokov writes of Pnin's own scorn for Chaplin)    Only the narrator seems to communicate a sense of the tragi-comic nature of Pnin's life.  A bittersweet read, with a message to us all!

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