Pnin

Vladimir Nabokov, Author, Stefan Rudnicki, Performed by
Vladimir Nabokov, read by Stefan Rudnicki, Brilliance Audio, unabridged, five CDs, 5.5 hrs., $19.99 ISBN 978-1-4418-7271-5
Reviewed on: 02/07/2011
Release date: 10/01/2010
Nabokov fans will be disappointed by narrator Stefan Rudnicki's stiff, staid performance in this audio version of the author's 13th novel. Told in a series of vignettes, the story follows Russian immigrant and professor Timofey Pavlovich Pnin as he boards the wrong train on his way to deliver a lecture, loses his luggage, struggles with the English language, hunts for living quarters, deals with his ex-wife, and throws a faculty party. Rudnicki's narration is clear and steady, but fails to capture the playfulness of Nabokov's prose and the humor of the text. Instead, Rudnicki's tone is variously stiff, needlessly booming, or monotone. He does, however, provide a wide range of voices for the cast of characters. His rendition of the title character—which sounds like a hybrid of Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat and Soviet comedian Yakov Smirnoff—is dynamic and entertaining. Listeners will be left wishing Rudnicki had infused more of his narration with those qualities. (Nov.)
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