Invitation to a Beheading, Paperback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Written in Berlin in 1934, "Invitation to a Beheading" contains all the surprise, excitement and magical intensity of a work created in two brief weeks of sustained inspiration.

It takes us into the fantastic prison-world of Cincinnatus, a man condemned to death and spending his last days in prison not quite knowing when the end will come.

Nabokov described the book as 'a violin in a void. The worldling will deem it a trick. Old men will hurriedly turn from it to regional romances and the lives of public figures ...The evil-minded will perceive in little Emmie a sister of little Lolita ...But I know a few readers who will jump up, ruffling their hair'.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780141185606



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It is quite an absurd situation the protagonist Cincinattus finds himself in this book; it does remind me of Kafka, even though Nabokov states in the foreword that at the time of writing, he didn't have read him at the time.The communication barrier between Cincinnattus, the protagonist and his captors gives much of the suspense of the book, but it also makes it a harder read as we are left with the same questions as C. and we don't really get any concrete answers.For me this book wasn't as entertaining or interesting as the other books of Nabokov, I only read till the end because it was short and I have already paid for the whole book. I would reccommend this to the fans of Kafkian literature, but otherwise leave it at the end of your to-be-read list.

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