First Edition of Vladimir Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading

  • Invitation to a Beheading.

Invitation to a Beheading.


Item Number: 74006

New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1957.

First edition of this “wonderful tour de force” (Gilbert Highet). Octavo, original half cloth, red topstain. Fine in a very good price-clipped dust jacket. Translated by Dmitri Nabokov.

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.

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