Tuesday December 8th, 2009

A Selection

pnin-coverFrom Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov:

Pnin skipped the actual reports and case histories—and there is no need to go here into those hilarious details. Suffice it to say that already at the third session of the female group, after this or that lady had gone home and seen the light and come back to describe the newly discovered sensation to her still blocked but rapt sisters, a ringing note of revivalism pleasingly colored the proceedings. (“Well, girls, when George last night—”) And this was not all. Dr. Eric Wind hoped to work out a technique that would allow bringing all those husbands and wives together in a joint group. Incidentally it was deadening to hear him and Liza smacking their lips over the word “group.” In a long letter to distressed Pnin, Professor Chateau affirmed that Dr. Wind even called Siamese twins “a group.” And indeed progressive, idealistic Wind dreamed of a happy world consisting of Siamese centuplets, anatomically conjoined communities, whole nations built around a communicating liver. “It is nothing but a kind of microcosmos of communism—all that psychiatry,” rumbled Pnin, in his answer to Chateau. “Why not leave their private sorrows to people? Is sorrow not, one asks, the only thing in the world people really possess?”