Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005356, Wed, 12 Jul 2000 10:08:20 -0700

Re: Pnin into Film (fwd)
From: Paul Sonnenburg <rover@cais.com>

>Juan Martinez <jmm80625@mail.ucf.edu> speculated,

> [David] Lynch ... could be fantastic with something more gentle:
> "Pale Fire"? "Pnin"?

The Northern Hemisphere's dog days having allowed us the harmless diversion
of speculating on novels and their bumpy relationship to film, Mr. Martinez's
nod to _Pnin_ raises the matter of interiority, so often the film maker's
impenetrable barrier but a sine qua non for Nabokov.

What a challenge _Pnin_ poses to a sufficiently imaginative director (and
casting director), and what a splendid opportunity for the right ensemble of
actors, not to mention an art director worth the title. Nabokov's unsurpassed
utilization of the visual moment as companion metaphor to deep emotion seems
almost unavoidably cinematic. Was there, for example, ever better filmic
material than Pnin's party, ever a more affecting visual/interior moment than
the broken/not broken punch bowl in the sudsy kitchen sink?

In their earliest effort, _Shakespeare-wallah_, (c. 1965) James Ivory and
Ismail Merchant revealed a sensitivity to Nabokovian-like subtlety and visual
nuance, but I've seen too little film recently to know who might presently be up
to _Pnin's_ inviting potential. And unfortunately it's too late to cast Lee J.
Cobb or George C. Scott, but maybe Albert Finney, say, or Anthony Hopkins could
be persuaded to polish their Russian accent. . . .

> PS
Washington, D.C.