- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (26 April 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141185600
- ISBN-13: 978-0141185606
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 121,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Invitation to a Beheading (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 26 Apr 2001
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"Nabokov writes prose the only way it should be written, that is, ecstatically." -- John Updike
" Nabokov writes prose the only way it should be written, that is, ecstatically." -- John Updike --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
Like Kafka's The Castle, Invitation to a Beheading embodies a vision of a bizarre and irrational world. In an unnamed dream country, the young man Cincinnatus C. is condemned to death by beheading for "gnostical turpitude." an imaginary crime that defies definition. Cincinnatus spends his last days in an absurd jail, where he is visited by chimerical jailers. an executioner who masquerades as a fellow prisoner, and by his in-laws. who lug their furniture with them into his cell. When Cincinnatus is led out to be executed. he simply wills his executioners out of existence: they disappear, along with the whole world they inhabit. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
At one point he recalls levitating out of a window. In a different memory he overhears group of people whispering "He is one of them, he is a..." - The chatter isn't finished and we never learn what Cincinnatus C. is or what he has done.
Whatever the true nature of his crime is, at the story's start Cincinnatus is found guilty and transported to a yellow-walled cell in a vast prison (in which he is the sole captive). For 20 days he is tormented in peculiar ways by his perversely mundane keepers. As time passes, Cincinnatus increasingly believes his jailers are not who they appear to be.
This short novel will probably flummox those who want a straightforward narrative, yet I think its dislocated symbolism and pathos will appeal most to the reader who (for whatever reason) feels marginalized by the status quo of what is normal and what is culturally expected. Cincinnatus C. is agitated and numbed by a yearning for escape and honesty, while the interferers around him are full of themselves with empty boasts, smug ambition and false concern.
Written in a fluid prose style and marked by smoke-&-mirrors imagery, INVITATION TO A BEHEADING is an absurdist classic: a strange snapshot of an outsider's dissolving life.
The author denies having read Kafka before writing this book. The fact is that the "strangeness" of the story is akin to Kafkas works. A man that finds himself in a starnge situation (in this case, convicted to death) without any aparent reason, surrounded by stranger characters. As for the end of the book, without giving it away, all I can say is that it is Amazingly puzling... Great book from a great author!
Nabokov's novel tells the story of a young man of 30, Cincinnatus C. Allusions may be important. Cincinnatus was a Roman statesman who defeated an invasion and then returned to his farm, refusing an offer of kingship. George Washington sometimes is called the American Cincinnatus. There are other important allusions in Nabokov's novel, including one to Socrates. Cincinnatus C. is arrested and sentenced to death by beheading for the strange, unexplained crime of "gnostic turpitude." Most of the novel is set in prison over a period of weeks while Cincinnatus awaits execution.
The reader gradually learns about Cincinnatus through his own words and those of the narrator which tend to merge together. The reader also learns of Cincinnatus' life in the jail surrounded by shadowy figures including the guard, the prison director, the director's daughter, a sole fellow-prisoner, a librarian, and other characters. Cincinnatus had led a lonely, frustrated life as a would-be writer. He was raised as an orphan, cuckolded repeatedly by his wife, and always felt himself a loner, misunderstood and neglected.
While in prison, Cincinnatus is obsessed with finding out the day of his execution. He wants to put his thoughts to paper, but he says he is unwilling to make the effort if his work is interrupted by his beheading.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great book and another one of Nabokov's best works. Dark, yet witty and with good character development this is a must read for fans of the author. Read morePublished 20 months ago by ReviewMonkey
Lovely book & arrived quickly & in time for xmas, very happy indeed.Published on 5 Jan. 2015 by diane
This was a good book but the low rating is because I am comparing it to his others. Good but nowhere near his bestPublished on 5 Feb. 2014 by Amazon Customer
Nabokov surreal romp is the story of Cincinnatus C., somewhere out there in the faceless depths of Middle Europe, who has just been sentenced to a beheading for the crime of... Read morePublished on 31 Mar. 2011 by John P. Jones III
I don't understand this book.Whenever I don't see the point , I always consider that maybe I'm a stupid fellow. Well I found this book incomprehensibly dense and opaque. Read morePublished on 12 Jan. 2011 by Mr. Michael Richard Harris
To understand Nabokov's Invitation we must at first do away with two comparisons. By the same author; Lolita is a blue streak tour-de-force of baby boomer America, narrated by a... Read morePublished on 4 Feb. 2009 by Mr. A. Hunter