May Brunch - Pnin (Vladimir Nabokov)

  • May 5, 2013 · 12:15 PM
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A friend of mine with high standards gave this five stars on Goodreads, and it's around/under 200 pages (depending on your edition) so a good length for the busy month that always accompanies the transition from April to May.

"Pnin is a professor of Russian at an American college who takes the wrong train to deliver a lecture in a language he cannot master. Pnin is a tireless lover who writes to his treacherous Liza: "A genius needs to keep so much in store, and thus cannot offer you the whole of himself as I do." Pnin is the focal point of subtle academic conspiracies he cannot begin to comprehend, yet he stages a faculty party to end all faculty parties forever.

Readers meet one of Nabokov's funniest and most heartrending characters: Timofey Pnin, a professor of Russian at an American college, who lectures in a language he cannot master."

Reviews

"Nabokov writes prose the only way it should be written, that is, ecstatically." -- John Updike

"Mr. Nabokov writes with a remarkable blend of realism and fantasy, the ranging humor of delightedly observed eccentricities in everyone, himself included." - NY Times

About the Author

"Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was born on April 23, 1899, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Nabokovs were known for their high culture and commitment to public service, and the elder Nabokov was an outspoken opponent of antisemitism and one of the leaders of the opposition party, the Kadets. In 1919, following the Bolshevik revolution, he took his family into exile. Four years later he was shot and killed at a political rally in Berlin while trying to shield the speaker from right-wing assassins.

Having already fled Russia and Germany, Nabokov became a refugee once more in 1940, when he was forced to leave France for the United States. There he taught at Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell. He also gave up writing in Russian and began composing fiction in English. In his afterword to Lolita he claimed: "My private tragedy, which cannot, and indeed should not, be anybody's concern, is that I had to abandon my natural idiom, my untrammeled, rich, and infinitely docile Russian tongue for a second-rate brand of English, devoid of any of those apparatuses -- the baffling mirror, the black velvet backdrop, the implied associations and traditions -- which the native illusionist, frac-tails flying, can magically use to transcend the heritage in his own way." [p. 317] Yet Nabokov's American period saw the creation of what are arguably his greatest works, Bend Sinister (1947), Lolita (1955), Pnin (1957), and Pale Fire(1962), as well as the translation of his earlier Russian novels into English. He also undertook English translations of works by Lermontov and Pushkin and wrote several books of criticism. Vladimir Nabokov died in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc."

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** NOTE : I WILL BE EMAILING MEMBERS ASKING YOU TO CONFIRM YOUR "YES" RSVP A FEW DAYS BEFORE THE MEETUP, WITH YOUR REPLY DUE NO LATER THAN APPROXIMATELY 24 HOURS BEFORE THE EVENT SO WE CAN GET A PRETTY ACCURATE HEADCOUNT. PLEASE REMEMBER TO CHANGE A "YES" RSVP TO A "NO" IF YOUR PLANS CHANGE, SO MEMBERS ON THE WAITING LIST HAVE A CHANCE TO READ THE BOOK. AND REMEMBER TO SEE THE "PAGES" LINK FOR THE NO-SHOW POLICY, IT'S STRICTLY ENFORCED. THANKS

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  • Sarabeth H.

    Yes, enjoyed seeing everyone and discussing the book-thanks for always being so organized Rachel! :)

    1 · May 8, 2013

  • Liz H.

    This was another fabulous and insightful conversation with amazing fellow readers. Agreed, the service was apalling but we chalked it up to "atmosphere". Great to meet the new folks!

    2 · May 5, 2013

  • Namita J.

    Great company, conversation and food!! As always impressed by Rachel's organizing skills:)

    1 · May 5, 2013

  • Anthony O.

    Yummy food and lovely atmospheric restaurant for discussing Pnin and his various trials, travails, and tribulations, among other things. Thanks! Take care and see you next time!

    1 · May 5, 2013

  • Jane E

    Great fun. We didn't all love the book but there was lots to say about it.

    1 · May 5, 2013

  • rachel

    The service at the restaurant was appallingly rude but the food and company delightful. Thanks everyone for another great month! You all make it easy to organize this great group!

    1 · May 5, 2013

  • Petra

    Unexpected work issue

    May 4, 2013

    • rachel

      Thanks for letting us know Petra!

      May 5, 2013

  • Lauren

    yet again :( have to go to arizona this weekend.

    May 2, 2013

  • rachel

    Hi guys- great to see so many of you yesterday! Just a reminder to please update your RSVP for May if you can no longer attend - we have a growing waiting list again this month. In the past few months plenty of spots have opened up in the days before the meetup; but always want to give people enough time to plan and read. Thanks!

    April 8, 2013

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Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

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