Nabokov’s Pnin

  • Hans Ernsten

Student thesis: Master's Thesis: Humanistic Studies


This thesis consists of an analysis of Nabokov’s novel Pnin. The goal of this analysis is to try to understand the transformation the protagonist, named Pnin, undergoes throughout the novel. Through this lens, the process of human transformation can be gleaned. To do justice to Nabokov’s writing, this thesis starts by outlining Nabokov’s thinking on writing and art. Then follows the analysis proper, which is conducted by use of Bakhtin’s thinking on language, dialogicity and the carnivalesque. Through Bakhtin, Nabokov’s language seemingly conveys either isolation or connectivity between characters within the novel. Additionally, the carnivalesque themes present within Pnin allow for an interpretation of the novel’s narrator which offsets interpretations in existing literature on Pnin. By means of this thesis, I aim to show the way Nabokov’s artistry uncovers a truth concerning understanding others. Doing so can only be provisional and, as such, is ever-changing.
Date of Award28 Oct 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMartien Schreurs (Supervisor) & Fernando Suárez Müller (Supervisor)

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