Invitation to a Beheading

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, Dmitri Nabokov

Like Kafka’s The Fort, Invitation to a Beheading embodies a imaginative and prescient of a weird and irrational world. In an unnamed dream nation, the younger man Cincinnatus C. is condemned to demise by beheading for “gnostical turpitude,” an imaginary crime that defies definition. Cincinnatus spends his final days in an absurd jail, the place he’s visited by chimerical jailers, an executioner who masquerades as a fellow prisoner, and by his in-laws, who lug their furnishings with them into his cell. When Cincinnatus is led out to be executed, he merely wills his executioners out of existence: they disappear, together with the entire world they inhabit.

From the Commerce Paperback version.