NABOKV-L post 0018974, Fri, 18 Dec 2009 14:01:44 +0300

Pnin's name-and-patronymic
I'm not familiar with criticism about Pnin and apologize, if it has been pointed out before.

Timofey Pnin, the hero of Nabokov's Pnin, is a son of Dr. Pavel Pnin. His name-and-patronymic is Timofey Palych (colloquial form of "Pavlovich"). The Russian name Timofey corresponds to English Timothy and Pavel, to Paul. Timothy is a disciple and companion of the apostle Paul, to whom Paul is supposed to have addressed two Epistles (they are among the books of the New Testament).

I believe we have already discussed Pnin's family name. Let me repeat, briefly: there was a poet I. P. Pnin (1773-1805), illegitimate son of N. V. Repnin (general and diplomat at the court of Katherine II). Dr. Olga Repnin is one of the books by the narrator in VN's Look at the Harlequins!
The real Pnin is remembered mainly thanks to Batyushkov's poem Na smert' Pnina (On Pnin's Death, 1805). Batyushkov's name comes from batyushka, "father" (also as mode of address to priests).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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