Pnin the Tail on the Influence

Here’s a David Lodge essay I missed from last year on Nabokov’s Pnin (and this is an excerpt from the introduction that appeared in the Everyman’s Library version). The novel, as we all know was an insurance policy in the event that Lolita couldn’t find a publisher. But Lodge offers some valuable info on Pnin’s inspiration, which was, in all likelihood, historian Marc Szeftel. Lodge is quite right in acknowledging Pnin as a prototype of the campus novel, but I wish he had conducted a more thorough inventory of Pnin‘s influence, which is broader than even Lodge gives credit for. Updike’s Bech books, for one, is clearly inspired by Pnin.

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