NABOKV-L post 0007292, Tue, 17 Dec 2002 09:46:40 -0800

Fw: == Zadie Smith on PNIN ==
----- Original Message -----
From: "Thomas Bolt -- b0sh0tmalt" <>
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> The author of the novel WHITE TEETH, Zadie Smith,
> comments on PNIN .
> Let's talk about Finch herself. How did you first imagine
> her?
> For a while, I've dreamt of writing some shadow of a type,
> like Updike's Bech or Nabokov's Pnin, and I gave that
> another shot with Finch, but my instincts are all the wrong
> way round. It's something I'm going to have to learn very
> slowly. The joy of Pnin is that to everyone within the story
> he has no more dimension than a joke; at best, he is a silly
> anecdote colleagues tell each other ("You must meet this
> fellow Pnin"). But it's Nabokov's genius to give the man
> his whole humanity, to delineate his sorrows with a
> morally immaculate comic seriousness ("I haf nofing left,
> nofing, nofing!"), and to draw away from the farcical at
> the last minute, as with the moment with the bowl that
> doesn't break-my favorite episode in modern fiction.
> With me, I get as far as the joke bit and then fall fatally at
> the whole humanity part. It would be lovely to keep
> working away at someone like Finch until you could make
> her live.
> This appears midway through an interview: