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Einladung zur Enthauptung by Vladimir…
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Einladung zur Enthauptung (original 1959; edition 1999)

by Vladimir Nabokov, Dieter E. Zimmer (Übersetzer)

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1,912313,582 (3.94)44
Member:paspalfa
Title:Einladung zur Enthauptung
Authors:Vladimir Nabokov
Other authors:Dieter E. Zimmer (Übersetzer)
Info:rororo (1999), Edition: 2, Taschenbuch, 272 pages
Collections:Read 2012, Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:None

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Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov (1959)

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» See also 44 mentions

English (28)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  Russian (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
I would wager to say that most people's introduction to Valdimir Nabokov is Lolita. And, for good reason. It is an excellent book that craftfully tells a disturbing story. But within all the works of Nabokov there is a playfulness and, even within Lolita, a surreality that is often overlooked. I first recognized this in the novel Bend Sinister (which I highly recommend). In Invitation to a Beheading, it reaches new limits.

On the one hand this novel contains some of the most interesting word play and writing I have seen in my limited exposure to his writings. On the other hand it also makes for a more disjointed approach and, in the process, leaves me unsure if the time spent on the novel was worth the investment.

Let me hasten to point out, I am not saying that the novel suffers from being written too densely or that the reader must struggle to get through or understand aspects of the novel. I am all for a read that provides a challenge. No, I am saying that, once the struggle was completed, I was not sure the pay off – the joy that should be felt at the end of any novel – was worth it.

Cincinnatus C has been imprisoned and is sentenced to death for gnostical turpitude. (Go ahead, take a minute, and look it up – I had to, also.) The novel starts at the moment of judgment. It appears that his execution will occur in twenty days. But there is nothing clear or straightforward about this world. (Technically, the following are spoilers – but the tale is strange enough I don't think you need to worry.) The jailers who talk with Cincinnatus become stranger with every visit. At one point he befriends a fellow prisoner who is only later revealed to be his executioner. After unusual visits from his wife, he is visited by his in-laws who bring their furniture into the cell. And it all ends (remember, I warned there were spoilers) with Cincinnatus making the execution evaporate around him.

It might be easy to look at this plot and draw parallels between Nabokov and Kafka (and I have seen that attempt made many times.) However, I am more inclined to see this as closer to Flann O'Brien –absurdist in approach.

Now don't get me wrong. My previous comments stating that the novel did not live up to what I wanted are not a reflection on the writing. There are great moments to be savored within this novel. Here's a line from the second page. "So we are nearing the end. The right-hand, still untasted part of the novel, which, during our delectable reading, we would lightly feel, mechanically testing whether there were still plenty left..." That one sentence shows both the skill of the writing and the surreal aspects of this entire trip.

But, in my early forays into Nabokov's writing, I just did not find this to be as strong or enjoyable as Lolita (maybe an unfair comparison – there is a reason it sits atop so many best-of-all-time lists) or Bend Sinister (a more fair comparison.) This is not necessarily the first Nabokov you should pick up. But there is still enough within to make it worth picking up over many of the other choices that are out there. ( )
  figre | Dec 29, 2013 |
i keep reading this getting to the last pages and i have to go right back to the beginning before i dare learn of poor cin-cin's fate ( )
  wensley | Dec 20, 2013 |
Sehr hübsch, aber genau dieses Feld hat Kafka schon mit schärferer (schwererer?) Egge beackert. ( )
  Wolfseule | Oct 15, 2013 |
Sehr hübsch, aber genau dieses Feld hat Kafka schon mit schärferer (schwererer?) Egge beackert. ( )
  Wolfseule | Oct 15, 2013 |
Sehr hübsch, aber genau dieses Feld hat Kafka schon mit schärferer (schwererer?) Egge beackert. ( )
  Wolfseule | Oct 15, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vladimir Nabokovprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Coutinho, L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coutinho, M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
García Díaz, Lydia deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nabokov, DmitriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Comme un fou se croit Dieu, nous nous croyons mortels. - Delaland: Discours sur les ombres
Dedication
To Véra
First words
In accordance with the law the death sentence was announced to Cincinnatus C. in a whisper.
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Così ci stiamo avvicinando alla fine. Il lato destro, la parte non ancora gustata del romanzo, che durante la deliziosa lettura tastavamo con delicatezza, verificandone in modo meccanico la consistenza (e le nostre dita erano sempre allietate dal placido, rassicurante spessore), improvvisamente, senza ragione alcuna, è diventato smilzo, qualche minuto di rapida lettura e già eccoci a valle...
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679725318, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"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" -- p. [4] of cover.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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