Pnin

by Vladimir Nabokov (1957)

Pnin is the 13th novel, and the fourth written in English, by Vladimir Nabokov; it was published in 1957. The book's eponymous protagonist, Timofey Pavlovich Pnin, is a Russian-born professor living in the United States. Pnin, a refugee in his 50s from both Communist Russia and what he calls the "Hitler war", is an assistant professor of Russian at fictional Waindell College ,possibly modeled on Wellesley College or Cornell University, at both of which Nabokov himself taught....

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  • The arrangement—Véra serving as Vladimir’s first lieutenant, as Sylvia Berkman described it—was not without its lapses. Nabokov traveled to Providence, Rhode Island, in March of 1947 to deliver a talk to a woman’s club there. (He still could not afford to turn down extracurricular work, although he did not sell himself short either. Véra had begun to alert editors soliciting reviews that their rates were unacceptable to her husband. “In fact he does not remember having ever been offered anything so absurd as $5 for a review,” she castigated one such offender.) In Providence Vladimir did Pnin one better; he delivered the wrong lecture. Mrs. Pnin assumed responsibility for the misunderstanding: “I am afraid, I am the one to blame: at the time we made the original arrangement I was sick and omitted writing down your selection of the subject,” Véra explained to the club’s president, who registered a sharp complaint. (The subject had been chosen by Vladimir and clearly indicated in the club’s letter confirming the talk.) Her husband would be willing to return to Providence to deliver the expected lecture at no charge. Still, prompted either by an inner sense of justice or by an external voice, Véra could not help adding: “He also thinks that to some extent you got even with him by misspelling his name on your program.”

    Stacy SchiffVera

From This Book

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  • Vera

    2000
    Stacy Schiff

  • The Annotated Lolita

    1991
    Vladimir Nabokov

  • What Happened to Anna K.

    2008
    Irina Reyn

  • Moving On

    2010
    Larry McMurtry

  • Addicted to Danger

    2010
    Jim Wickwire

  • Compass Points

    2002
    Edward Hoagland

  • The Unending Mystery

    2005
    David W. McCullough

  • Pages From a Cold Island

    2011
    Frederick Exley

  • Glory

    1991
    Vladimir Nabokov

  • Cleaning Nabokov's House

    2011
    Leslie Daniels


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