There is a regular recurrence of blazing insight and description, but the general tenour is one of anti-American deadpan humour. The main character bumbles along like a literary re-conception of Mr. Magoo; the narrator makes numerous intrusions and as if he (or it) were just a jeering holy ghost.
Nabokov is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors; his style demonstrates complete mastery of the English language in all his imagery, metaphors and wordplay. This is all on display here in “Pnin”, which seems to be as much a part of his prime as anything else he wrote. Story-wise, this is focused on the exploits and interactions of a charming old Russian immigrant named Pnin (who serves as basically an antithesis to the calculated, evil Humbert from his more widely known “Lolita”). He depicts the beauty and charm found in these simple stories with great effectiveness, and Pnin manages to be a likable, extremely well-written novel. Overall, would recommend to anyone with an interest in language, but it’s focus on aesthetics might make it seem lackluster for someone who reads books in search of deep meanings or morals; 4/5.
- @zlogan of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library
I tend to love Nabokov, but I couldn't get into this book. I found it less funny than 'The Eye', just more dry. I understand the draw of dry comedy, but I do not think this book really showed off Nabokov's ability for humor. All of the jokes at Pnin's expense quickly got old, as I stopped feeling bad for him and started just being annoyed. The book really felt like it was dragging on, despite not even being 150 pages. Go with Invitation to a Beheading or The Eye if you want shorter Nabokov work.
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