- Invitation to a Beheading
name = Invitation to a Beheading
title_orig = Приглашение на казнь
Dmitri Nabokovin collaboration with the author
image_caption = 2001 Penguin Modern Classics edition
language = Russian
release_date = 1935-1936
media_type = Print (
isbn = NA & reissue ISBN 0-679-72531-8 (Vintage, September 19, 1989)
"Invitation to a Beheading" (Russian: Приглашение на казнь, "Priglasheniye na kazn"') is a
novelby Russian Americanauthor Vladimir Nabokov. It was originally published in Russian in 1935-1936 as a serial in "Contemporary Notes" ("Sovremennye zapiski"), a highly respected Russian émigré magazine. In 1938 the work was published in Paris, with an English translation following in 1959. The English version was translated by Nabokov's son, Dmitri Nabokov, under the author's supervision.
The novel is often described as "
Kafkaesque," however Nabokov claimed that at the time he wrote the book, he was unfamiliar with German and "completely ignorant" of Kafka's work. [cite book | last = Nabokov | first = Vladimir | title = Invitation to a Beheading | year = 1959 | publisher = G.P. Putnam's Sons | pages = 6 | chapter = Foreword ] Nabokov interrupted his work on "The Gift" in order to write "Invitation", describing the creation of the first draft as "one fortnight of wonderful excitement and sustained inspiration." [cite book | last = Nabokov | first = Vladimir | title = Strong Opinions | year = 1974 | publisher = Weidenfeld and Nicolson | pages = 92 ] Some scholars have argued that the central plot of "Invitation" has its roots in Chernyshevski, a character from "The Gift". [Citation | last = Dragunoiu | first = Dana | year = 2000 | pages = 53]
While Nabokov stated in an interview that of all his novels he held the greatest affection for "
Lolita", it was for "Invitation to a Beheading" that he held in the greatest esteem. [cite web |url= http://www.lib.ru/NABOKOW/Inter06.txt|title= Nabokov's interview. (06) Wisconsin Studies 1967 |accessdate=2007-12-21 |publisher= Lib.ru|work= Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature]
The novel takes place in a prison and relates the final twenty days of
CincinnatusC., a citizen of a fictitious country, who is imprisoned and sentenced to death for " gnosticalturpitude." Unable to blend in and become part of the world around him, Cincinnatus is described as having a "certain peculiarity" that makes him "impervious to the rays of others, and therefore produced when off his guard a bizarre impression, as of a lone dark obstacle in this world of souls transparent to one another." [cite book | last = Nabokov | first = Vladimir | title = Invitation to a Beheading | year = 1959 | publisher = G.P. Putnam's Sons | pages = 24] Although he tries to hide his condition and "feign translucence," people are uncomfortable with his existence, and feel there is something wrong with him. In this way, Cincinnatus fails to become part of his society.
While confined, Cincinnatus is not told when his execution will occur. This troubles him, as he wants to express himself through writing "in defiance of all the world's muteness," but feels unable to do so without knowledge of how long he has to complete this task. [cite book | last = Nabokov | first = Vladimir | title = Invitation to a Beheading | year = 1959 | publisher = G.P. Putnam's Sons | pages = 91] Indifferent to the absurdity and vulgarity around him, Cincinnatus strives to find his true self in his writing, where he creates an ideal world. Taken to be executed, he refuses to believe in either death or his executioners, and as the ax falls the false existence dissolves around him as he joins the spirits of his fellow visionaries in "reality."
Other characters include Rodion the jailer, the director of the jail Rodrig, and Cincinnatus' lawyer Roman. Some suggest that these names are meant to mimic that of the protagonist of
Fyodor Dostoyevsky's " Crime and Punishment", Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov. Cincinnatus' wife Marthe, a child named Emmie, and fellow prisoner "M'sieur Pierre" are also secondary characters.
last = Dragunoiu
first = Dana
year = 2001
title = Vladimir Nabokov's 'Invitation to a Beheading' and the Russian Radical Tradition
periodical = Journal of Modern Literature
volume = 25
issue = 1
pages = 53-69
last = Peterson
first = Dale
year = 1981
title = Nabokov's Invitation: Literature as Execution
periodical = PMLA
volume = 96
issue = 5
pages = 824-836
last = Schumacher
first = Meinolf
year = 2002
title = 'waz wirret daz?' Ein Theodizee-Argument des 'Welschen Gastes' im Horizont europäischer Gefängnis-Literatur von Boethius bis Vladimir Nabokov
periodical = Beweglichkeit der Bilder. Text und Imagination in den illustrierten Handschriften des 'Welschen Gastes' von Thomasin von Zerclaere
pages = 238-255
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Invitation au supplice — (en russe : Приглашение на казнь) est un roman de l écrivain Vladimir Nabokov, publié pour la première fois en 1938 par la maison d éditions Dom Knigi, à Paris. Il était d abord paru sous forme de feuilletons dans le périodique Sovreménnye… … Wikipédia en Français
Nabokov's Congeries — 1st edition (publ. Viking Press) Nabokov s Congeries was a collection of work by Vladimir Nabokov published in 1968 and reprinted in 1971 as The Portable Nabokov. Because Nabokov supervised its production less than a decade before he died, it is… … Wikipedia
Nabokov, Vladimir — ▪ American author in full Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov born April 22, 1899, St. Petersburg, Russia died July 2, 1977, Montreux, Switz. Russian born American novelist and critic, the foremost of the post 1917 émigré authors. He wrote in both… … Universalium
List of fictional books — A fictional book is a non existent book created specifically for (i.e. within) a work of fiction. This is not a list of works of fiction (i.e., actual novels, mysteries, etc), but rather imaginary books that do not actually exist.UsesSuch a book… … Wikipedia
List of works by Vladimir Nabokov — This is a complete list of works by writer Vladimir Nabokov. Fiction Novels and novellas Novels and novellas written in Russian * (1926) Mashen ka (Машенька); English translation: Mary (1970) * (1928) Korol Dama Valet (Король, дама, валет);… … Wikipedia
Vladimir Nabokov — This article is about the novelist. For his father, the politician, see Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov. This name uses Eastern Slavic naming customs; the patronymic is Vladimirovich and the family name is Nabokov. Vladimir Nabokov Nabokov in 1969 … Wikipedia
1938 in literature — The year 1938 in literature involved some significant events and new books.Events* The trilogy, U.S.A. by John Dos Passos, is published containing his three novels The 42nd Parallel (1930), 1919 (1932), and The Big Money (1936). *Jorge Luis… … Wikipedia
Severed Head of State — Infobox Musical artist Name = Severed Head of State Img capt = Severed Head of State in Austin, Texas, in 2006. Img size = Landscape = Background = group or band Birth name = Alias = Born = Died = Origin = Instrument = Voice type = Genre =… … Wikipedia
The Original of Laura — … Wikipedia
Nine Stories (Nabokov) — 1st edition Nine Stories is an English language collection of stories written in Russian, French, and English by Vladimir Nabokov. It was published in 1947 by New Directions in New York City, as the second issue of a serial, Direction. The nine… … Wikipedia