Invitation to A Beheading

Invitation to A Beheading

Book - 1989
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 1989, c1959.
Edition: First Vintage international edition
ISBN: 9780679725312
Branch Call Number: NABOKOV
Characteristics: 223 pages ; 21 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Feb 17, 2019

A claustrophobic paean to mortality and an indictment of cruelty; an apologia to the power of literature (p. 205). The heart the book is chapter eight (p.89-97). A finale of a manifestation of transcendence of common things and people. Having just watched Bressard's film "A man escaped", they hold many thematic parallels, and they both aim at transcendence, albeit in very different ways.

" Now newspapers were no longer brought to the cell: having noticed that everything that might have any connection with the execution was clipped out, Cincinnatus himself had declined to receive them."

Jun 12, 2015

That's one invitation you might not want to RSVP to! An early, somewhat unformed novel by the author of "Lolita." Nabokov and his family fled Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution, settled in Berlin, where he composed this, and then fled the Nazis. "Invitation to a Beheading" was written in Russian and originally published serially in a Paris magazine. Many reviewers compared it to Kafka, but Nabokov, in the introduction, said he hadn't read any Kafka yet. This edition was translated by Nabokov and his son Dmitri and Nabokov's later, more famous books were written in English. This novel, one of his few political ones (although he claimed to disdain politics) is for the serious Nabokov reader only. He called it "a violin in a void."


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Related Authors


Subject Headings


Find it at LPL

To Top