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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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2,074393,198 (3.94)50
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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English (36)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  Russian (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Amazing prose, often.

I think chapter 8 is going to become one of my personal classics: soliloquy of a condemned prisoner. This, with his other passages in solitary and the ending, make a worthy entry in anti-death penalty fiction, alongside such Russians as Leonid Andreyev (Seven Who Were Hanged) and Dostoyevsky (The Idiot). Nabokov’s dad and granddad both worked against the death penalty in government in Russia.

The bizarre farce… I only reconciled to after being guided to look at the book as a quite specific satire on Soviet official philosophy of life, and its intellectual background in 19thC radical circles – the materialist, scientific-determinist school of Chernyshevsky, and Lenin after him, and that lot. Seen in this focus, I get it. Example: I put the novel on pause and under suspicion when I met the wife (I guess I had trust issues left over from Lolita); until I figured out she’s a satire of open marriages as advocated in Chernyshevsky’s novel, which Dostoyevsky satirised too in Demons. Indeed Dostoyevsky (my favourite author if you didn’t know) spent his latter life in struggle against this materialist-determinist tide in radical thought, so I’m up for novel by Nabokov against it.

People have no personhood, except for Cincinnatus, who has 'gnostical turpitude' (his capital crime) because he has a subjectivity which science and other people's eyes cannot plumb. He has glimmerings of a day when the shoddy farce/philosophy of life around him blows away and people are allowed to be real again. In fact he looks forward to the 21st century for a life 'ennobled, spiritualised'... I don't know whether we can help him.

I tend to be impatient of writers-writing-about-writing or similar circuitous topics; given Nabokov's disengaged stance, this is often taken for one. I'll go with the above interpretation, which makes sense to me. ( )
  Jakujin | Aug 8, 2016 |
A book that is hard to understand. ( )
  siok | Jul 6, 2016 |
Outstanding thought provoking and rife with meaning and questions about existence. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
In Dr. Markov's graduate course on 20th century Russian literature we read "Invitation to a Beheading" in Russian. Well, I 'read' the words, individually, not really understanding the majority of them. My reading Russian was very weak, and we had many, many readings to do in a very short period of time. I remembered only one scene, or partly remembered, when Cincinnatus came out of the prison, through the tunnel dug out by his neighbor, and ended up back in the prison, everything an elaborate hoax.
This time around, everything was new, unknown, fascinating. A nightmare wrapped in a strange puzzle found in a madhouse. What is this story about? An awakening consciousness? The crumbling reality of a disturbed mind? The absurdity of living? Whatever else it may be, it is a book worth reading many times. ( )
  Marse | Jul 19, 2015 |
Nabokov's prose is uniquely beautiful. It reaches right into my soul, and nestles in forever. This novel is a Kafkaesque tale taking the reader into the psyche of a man condemned to death by beheading. It is only through the freedom of imagination, which cannot be chained, that Cincinnatus, the protagonist, is able to escape his cell temporarily while he tries to find meaning in his life. As the reader, I had to allow myself to let go of any expectation of structure or reality and soar into the world with the prisoner's imaginings. A marvelous reading experience! ( )
  hemlokgang | Jun 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (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
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To Véra
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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 your language.
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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:26 -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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