Books: Pnin & Pan

PNIN (191 pp.) —Vladimir Nabokov—Doubleday ($3.50).

Timofey Pnin is a Russian émigré professor who has won a Pyrrhic victory over the English language. His name itself is a sneeze in search of a vowel. His colleagues at a small Eastern college can make out Pnin's pastoral odes to "Tsentral Park," but few realize that "I search for the viscous and sawdust" is a request for whisky and soda. Devoted to the active verb and the present tense, Pnin invests the simplest acts with explosive vitality ("I never go in a hat even in winter"). In...

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