Concept

Pnin

Summary
Pnin (pnjin) is Vladimir Nabokov's 13th novel and his fourth written in English; it was published in 1957. The success of Pnin in the United States launched Nabokov's career into literary prominence. Its eponymous protagonist, Timofey Pavlovich Pnin, is a Russian-born assistant professor in his 50s living in the United States, whose character is believed to be based partially on the life of both Nabokov's colleague Marc Szeftel as well as on Nabokov himself. Exiled by the Russian Revolution and what he calls the "Hitler war", Pnin teaches Russian at the fictional Waindell College, loosely inspired by Cornell University and Wellesley College—places where Nabokov himself taught. Timofey Pavlovich Pnin, the title character, is a professor of Russian at Waindell College; "ideally bald" with a "strong man torso," "spindly legs," and "feminine feet". Pnin is on a train from Waindell to Cremona, where he is to give a guest lecture. He is persistently bothered by the fear that he may lose his lecture papers, or mix them up with the student essay he is correcting. He discovers he has boarded the wrong train and gets off. When he tries to board a bus to Cremona, he suddenly realizes he has lost his luggage (with his papers) and has a seizure. He finally arrives at Cremona by truck, having recovered his papers, and is about to give his lecture when he experiences a vision, seeing his dead parents and friends from before the Russian Revolution in the audience. Laurence Clements, a fellow Waindell faculty member, and his wife Joan, are looking for a new lodger after their daughter Isabel has married and moved out. Pnin is the new tenant, informed of the vacancy by Waindell's librarian, Mrs. Thayer. The Clementses grow to enjoy Pnin's eccentricities and his idiosyncratic phrasings. There follows the history of Pnin's relationship with his ex-wife Dr. Liza Wind, who manipulated him into bringing her to America so that she could leave him for fellow psychologist Eric Wind. Liza visits Pnin, but only wants to extract money from him for her son, Victor.
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