Invitation to a Beheading

Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki
Length: 6 hrs and 10 mins
4.0 out of 5 stars (137 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©1935 Vladimir Nabokov (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Nabokov writes prose the only way it should be written, that is, ecstatically." (John Updike)

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What listeners say about Invitation to a Beheading

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Nabokov's Strange Violin Playing in the Void

Nabokov's violin playing in the void of a totalitarian nightmare. Invitation to a Beheading belongs in those 20th Century novels by Orwell, Huxley, Kafka and Koestler that explore the individual revolting against an absurd totalitarianism. Cincinnatus C is an opaque prisoner being punished by a translucent society for his gnostical turpitude. With a Gogol-like playfulness and a Kafkaesque absurdity and a linqusitic inventiveness that belongs solely to Nabokov,

'Invitation to a Beheading' explores the many ways the state (and society) acts to destroy or force conformity on those whose vision is different. Beware those who transgress social norms, your days are both numbered ... and infinite

21 people found this helpful

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  • C
  • 09-09-11

I enjoyed it--but not for everyone

Narration--excellent. I've read several of his books and liked them all. This is an unconventional tale. If you like Kafka you'll like this.

4 people found this helpful

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  • JP
  • 05-18-11

Great tale, poor narration voice.

The story itself is good. It is interesting and thought provoking. The narrators gravel voice distracts form the tale and was not pleasant. It was very difficult to get past this and get into the book. I would read the authors other books instead of listening to this narrator again.

7 people found this helpful

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The Book I Liked Least by My Favorite Author

Though Nabokov vehemently denies the Kafka influence it's hard to not feel it. I could have found this book more enjoyable if it held the beautiful writing style that makes me such a fan but even that was missing in 'Invitation'. I suggest 'Ada or Ardor' if one wants to read beyond Lolita.

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this novel was meant to be read aloud - great job

I couldn't stop listening to this rendering of Nabokovs best novel - IMO. I read this book in college while studying English literature. I was fascinated with the story and the exquisite prose. The narrator did a great job. I was uncertain whether I would enjoy listening to him at first, as his voice is a bit gravelly and didn't seem suites to the story. His voice quickly grew on me, however, as he read the somewhat challenging prose very much the way I heard it in my mind when I read it years ago. He did an exceptionally good job at bringing what I'll call the Frenchman in the in the neighboring cell- so as not to include a spoiler - to life for me in a new way. He also handled very well the sometimes complicated dialogue that goes on both within and around Cincinnatus. This is Nabokovs best work IMO and the narrator only added to the story. I'd recommend this book to any serious reader.