Caitlin Lawrence Professor Karla Armbruster ENGL 4500 17 December 2010 Invitation to a Beheading: A Criticism Chronicle The evil

minded will perceive in little Emmie a sister of little Lolita, and the disciples of the Viennese witch-doctor will snicker over it in their grotesque
world of communal guilt.

—Nabokov: Forward to Invitation to a Beheading The first readers of Vladimir Nabokov‟s 1935-6 serial novel Invitation to a Beheading were Russian émigrés like himself—bourgeois, intellectual, and blacklisted. It is not surprising that the subject of this audience‟s exile should play a major role in their interpretation of the novel; they saw in Nabokov‟s dreamworld a dystopia that reflected the plight of freethinkers in a repressive society (Connolly 6). In his particularly Nabokovian manner of handling critics, the author responds in 1959: I composed the Russian original exactly a quarter of a century ago in Berlin, some fifteen years after escaping from the Bolshevist regime, and just before the Nazi regime reached its full volume of welcome. The question whether or not my seeing both in terms of one dull beastly farce had any effect on this book, should concern the good reader as little as it does me (5). Nabokov frequently attempted to steer his critics away from interpretations he deemed false or shallow. He wanted his critics to focus on his novels as aesthetic objects, not reflections of society, politics, the unconscious, the author, etc. While this didn‟t keep his more widely read works—such as Lolita and Pale Fire—from the “disciples of the Viennese witch-doctor,” the critics of Invitation to a Beheading have adhered surprisingly well to the author‟s dictums. When I speak of “critics of Invitation to a Beheading,” it must be understood that this is a peculiar collection of people. The casual “Nabokov scholar” (as his critics like to call Lawrence 1

Lawrence 2 . At the start. Rodion and Rodrig sometimes switch heads. theatrical realm. Invitation to a Beheading takes place in a nightmarish.themselves) does not bother with Invitation. C. Some of them. like Nabokov. Cincinnatus spends his time daydreaming (which he is forbidden to do). Rodrig‟s young daughter. write in both languages. At the novel‟s close. a study of Invitation‟s English criticism is not without its rewards. in fact.” Pierre. This presents a disheartening challenge to exhaustiveness. As Pierre‟s ax swings. This “prisoner. This complicates a study of criticism because the English critics sometimes reference Russian essays. is Cincinnatus‟ executioner. Cincinnatus is awoken by the sounds of a fellow prisoner digging his way through the walls. and attempting to escape. To demonstrate the surreality of the novel. writing in his diary. The surreal etiquette of the prison demands that the executioner be appointed “the official friend of the jailed. Loosely. and Emmie. Rodrig the prison director. if only due to the fascinating object of study. listen to.” in contrast to his surreal and translucent captors. most have written full books on the author. Even so. English-speaking critics—and I focus only on these—who write about this particular novel typically write about Nabokov on a regular basis. Cincinnatus finally breaks free of the prison that is that surreal world and prepares to ascend to another 1 The definition of this charge is subject to much debate. it means that C. Rodion the jailer.” and Cincinnatus is forced to smell. He is imprisoned in a fortress and tormented by Roman the prosecutor. Nabokov‟s English critics tend to be familiar with the novel‟s Russian criticism as well. bombastic cheat. Cincinnatus is finally led to the execution block. the writer Cincinnatus C. but has managed to hide it until now. and play checkers with the sweating. is “real” or “opaque. is sentenced to death for “gnostical turpitude”1 He has known himself to be guilty of this crime since childhood. Midway through his month-long captivity.

Fields states. Ludmilla Foster says it well: the novel is a phenomenon of language. Invitation can be read as a commentary on the disparity between art and life. is the focus on 2 Like all great novels. particularly what the novel reveals about the author‟s own philosophical views. Earlier criticism (1967-1987) is objective. Cincinnatus‟ family condemns him just as readily as the judge. Invitation defies summary. most fleshed-out example of the nightmarish society (Pierre is.” which is a Russian term meaning "petty evil or selfsatisfied vulgarity" (Alexandrov 106) paired with banality. According to Field. The square where he was to be executed. themes. Exceptions include Pifer and Peterson. focusing on its structures. along with the rest of the world. besides those of Nabokov‟s forward. among other things. exceedingly Gogolian4).realm. He discusses Cincinnatus‟ relationship to his foil. Lawrence 3 . Grossman leads a shift toward expressive criticism. The first influential words on the novel. however. 4 “Gogolian here means “characterized by postlost . or a combination of these. not of ideas. who is the best. Vladimir Nabokov himself edited it. whose mimetic approach champions Invitation as more “real” than 19th century realism. He states that the world of Invitation to a Beheading is truly totalitarian—not only in regime but also in culture. Little serious criticism directly followed the 1959 release of Dmitri Nabokov‟s translation of his father‟s novel. This does not overshadow objective criticism. goes up in smoke. are written by Andrew Field in his 1967 book Nabokov: His Life in Art. devices. and a fable. In 1987. Field does not focus on one particular device or motif— many of the ideas he fleetingly presents are later explored by other critics. a political commentary.3 perhaps frightened away by the author‟s forward (quoted above).2 A few words should be said on the general trends in Invitation‟s serious English criticism. Field points out. Pierre. the major theme in Invitation is the plight of the artist. which continues into this millennium. 3 The first and only translation into English. The primary transgression of the early Russian critics.

By allowing Cincinnatus to break from “the novel. M. which tend to focus on the novel as a political dystopia (yes. rather than one. but more). Ellen Pifer focuses on Nabokov‟s subversion of the “realistic” tradition in literature.” Nabokov displays his disdain for realism: art is art.” the binary pair real/ideal (Nabokov’s description of the world/Cincinnatus’ depiction of himself). 5 Ludmilla Foster also touches upon many aspects of the novel‟s theme that are later expanded upon by other critics. First. subverted by Nabokov. She compares the novel to the Gogolian 5 Invitation to a Beheading‟s Russian title Lawrence 4 . Although she writes in English. Cincinnatus as an Everyman (no.” an individual). She interprets him as saying that as hard as realists try to accurately depict reality. she focuses solely on the Russian text. Pifer claims that Cincinnatus‟ world represents “the novel” as Forrester describes it. he‟s a “privileged being. In her 1974 article “Nabokov‟s Gnostic Turpitude: The Surrealistic Vision of Reality in Priglašenie na kazn”. or Cincinnatus as an “artist in the process of creating the world of his imagination from which he departs into reality” (no. she says. Invitation is Nabokov‟s statement that reality does not exist even in the “real” world— that it only exists in our perception of it. dominates criticism to this day.” much like Cincinnatus‟ captors depend on theatrical tricks. Using E. Pifer‟s claims are later echoed by Dale Peterson. she addresses previous interpretations. and causality” (118). She is the last English critic to do this. Her interpretation of the novel focuses on “life as a nightmare. The idea that the novel should be interpreted in many different ways. Forester‟s comments on realistic fiction. and should not attempt to imitate life.” published in 1970. they must still depend on literary “tricks.only one possible interpretation without allowing for other interpretations. she says. Cincinnatus is not the narrator). In her mimetic piece “Nabokov‟s Invitation to a Beheading: The Parody of a Tradition. rationality. in which reality is “devoid of logic.

e. Letters are frequently brought up in the narrative—the same day Cincinnatus learns the alphabet. which is also the word for “retarded.” Also in Russian. 9 Johnson borrows this idea from Frederick Jameson. Barton Johnson is the first English critic to extensively analyze a specific motif. Cincinnatus‟ name and that of his foil (and executioner) begin with the mirror-letters Ц and П. who borrows it from Nietzsche: "We have to cease to think. for we cannot reach further than the doubt which asks whether the limit we see is really a limit.8 He concludes by commenting on the sparse nature of the plot—simple. in order to allow more attention to be invested in the devices and main theme—the striving of the prisoner to break free of the “prison-house of language”9 through writing. Peterson‟s 1981 essay “Nabokov's Invitation: Literature as Execution” is the first to be particularly interested in the reader‟s role in the narrative web of Invitation to a Beheading. 6 7 To my knowledge i. Johnson‟s thoughtful exploration of letter-play is later expanded upon by Gavriel Shapiro.7 not of ideas (political or otherwise).” first published in 1978.” “fita” in Russian. his job is to work with children in Division “F. if we refuse to do it in the prison house of language.. as well as less obvious phenomenon such that described by Johnson in the next paragraph 8 Note that he turns to expressive criticism for a moment to support a point about the object. he claims. and to European modernism. and puns. he explores the way Nabokov uses the physical shape of letters as a device in many of his novels.6 Echoes of Nabokov‟s own assertions are found in her final statement that Invitation is a phenomenon of language. he loses his innocence. which has been explored before by émigré critics and Field. imagery. In “The Alpha and Omega: Alphabetic Iconism in Invitation to a Beheading. Johnson draws special attention to imagery that focus on single-letters and points to the fact that Nabokov took special care to make sure this imagery translated sensically into English. D." — Friedrich Nietzsche Lawrence 5 . which is an entirely new comparison. but most obviously and importantly in Invitation. respectively.tradition. brilliant turns of phrases.

Cincinnatus is vaguely aware that he is trapped in the confines of a novel. exposes. why writing that purports to respect real life must not seek to reproduce it” (825) and that “moral fiction is fiction that makes no pretense of being identical with given reality. by turning pages. escaping both the piecemeal. however. he transcends the novel. Barton Johnson publishes another essay on Invitation called “Spatial Modeling and Deixis: Nabokov‟s Invitation to a Beheading. and this/that oppositions deeply ingrained in the novel.” Peterson claims that Nabokov. Johnson points out the high significance of these words when determining what belongs to the surreal world and what belongs to the “real” world. which she terms “moral fiction. In 1982. or even a substitute for it. Peterson‟s reading of Invitation to a Beheading breaks away from Pifer‟s with the statement that the reader is executing Cincinnatus C. He begins by describing Nabokov‟s insistence that his novels not be interpreted was vehicles for “great ideas” or “real life. In the end. he explores the novel‟s complexities and mocks the reader who finds it to be simply a crystalline parable. Unlike other characters. These diexical words are used in high frequency throughout the book. just as surely as he is turning pages—in fact. no line of criticism has fallen neatly into a particular school. he is executing Cincinnatus C. nightmarish world of the book and the novel itself—Cincinnatus lives on in the reader‟s mind and through criticism. D. however. He draws the analogy between the prisoner in an autocracy and a character in a plot.”Throughout his essay. Peterson suggests. Peterson attempts to raise the worth of the novel by comparing it to realism. now/then.” this time taking a structural approach based in the theories of Jurij Lotman. in the form of an opaque parable. in his “seemingly crystalline novel.” He states that Iris Murdoch is incorrect in her dismissal of what she terms “20th century crystalline fiction” in favor of the realist novels of the 19th century. So far. the world that Cincinnatus escapes to at Lawrence 6 .Like Pifer. Johnson focuses on the here/there.

He also discusses thematic oppositions. 10 11 Both the totalitarianism of the world of Invitation and totalitarianism in general Nabokov never makes these beliefs entirely clear. not about politics. and bad art—which is sentimental and misguided—with totalitarianism. sterile. and that the novel affirms the persistence of man against the world‟s increasing brutality. In 1987. theatre/reality. and metaphysical/geographical. Lawrence 7 . pagan hermeneutic. including transparent/opaque. and therefore „minor‟” and that it carelessly dismisses totalitarianism (clearly a force to be reckoned with). Each of these binary pairs contains a “good” element and a “bad” element. While not as influential as his previously discussed essay. Grossman‟s draws from a loose tradition of Gnostic thought that borrowed freely from Greek. Robert Alter takes on numerous critics who claim that Nabokov‟s novel is “self enclosed. attempting to escape the “here” in favor of the “there. He argues that Invitation constantly compares good art and bad art: pairing good art with the novel itself and Cincinnatus.the end of the novel. 10 He notes that Invitation is self conscious art in both medium and moral mode. and Judeo-Christian sources. “reality”/art. Johnson‟s structural analysis provides an in-depth analysis of binary oppositions also explored by later critics. Oriental. especially in the tradition of Arnold‟s idea of the moral novel. Cincinnatus is at the “center” of the structure.” Johnson states that Nabokov uses deixical oppositions intentionally to ground his highly surreal novel and enrich the linguistic structure. In his 1984 book Motives for Fiction. Alter asserts that Nabokov is expressing a political statement about art. Robert Grossman introduces a line of thought entirely new to Invitation‟s English criticism—that Nabokov expresses his own beliefs about the nature of the universe11 through his use of Gnostic motifs. He grounds these critics‟ reasoning in the humanist tradition. His son Dmitri has stated that Vladimir would not fully reveal his philosophy even to his wife and son.

pagan Hermenics. to illustrate. but his Russian studies remain untranslated. She incorporates more biographical implications than Nabokov scholars to date. He possesses within him the “divine spark” of the Gnostics that sets him apart from his physical world and also marks him as belonging to the highest tier of man in the Gnostics‟ three levels of anthropological reality: the spiritual man. Cincinnatus‟ prison is the “entire physical universe. the novel is centered in Gnostic ideas (which include Neoplatonism.” including his own body. and the carnal man. Because Gnosticism is more of a loosely collected set images and ideas rather than a unified doctrine. and the spiral as the symbolic escape from the unending circle. that condemn Grossman to rarely being mentioned by later critics who focus on Invitation’s Gnostic tendencies. this “center” is somewhat difficult to discern. is condemned to die and awaits in prison the [date] of his execution” (53). This 12 13 Sergei Davydov spends a great deal of time on them. Lawrence 8 . just as it was a major factor of Nabokov‟s émigré lifestyle in 1930‟s Berlin. and Christian gnosis).” the shedding of corporal layers in the assent from the world after death. however. just like the Gnostics‟ prison. or a man. 13 To summarize Grossman‟s arguments. Keys to seeing Invitation as a Gnostic narrative include the premise of the novel: that “Man. Grossman.Nabokov‟s use of Gnostic motifs has been mentioned before.12 but never with the implications given to them by Grossman. she notes that determinacy is always at play in Invitation to a Beheading. Even though he is not named. who seems to have many of the same insights as Grossman. other scholars build on his ideas. is the closest we can get. the “soulish” man. Leona Toker devotes a chapter of her 1989 book Nabokov: Mysteries of Literary Structures to Invitation to a Beheading. It is these implications—that the novel “ultimately [states that] we are all exiles and death is our only return” (59)—perhaps. These scholars might actually be building on Davydov. His relative obscurity could also be caused by his confession of “having not Russian” (68). Other noted Gnostic metaphors include “life as sleep or nightmare.

” who escapes the nightmare world only when the physical Cincinnatus dies. he cannot express everything he is thinking with the language system he has been given. occasionally granting him more knowledge than he would otherwise have. This is seen through Cincinnatus‟ odd insights in diary entries. none of these interpretations can make complete sense. "The Otherworld in Invitation to a Beheading. The novel as a whole (as well as certain. Structural inconsistencies are evident not just in the structure of the prison-world. of the novel. many ways. Alexandrov also argues that Cincinnatus is the only essentially “good” character in the novel because he is connected to the second. in departure from Grossman. insists Lawrence 9 . like Grossman‟s. Lexically. and deconstruct themselves. The Platonic implications—those of Cincinnatus‟ “there” as a world of Forms—here are clear. He argues that Cincinnatus has a metaphysical “double. See Oles‟ 1995 essay for a deeper look into the “silences.indeterminacy is interpretive. separable sequences) can be interpreted in many. lexical. which contains inconsistence of plot detail and “logical incompatibility between contiguous scenes” (135). He focuses most heavily on Neoplatonist and metaphysical themes. where characters switch heads." that. Alexandrov.” or gaps. tips its hat to the ambiguities and dissimilarities or reality. and structural all at once. However. focuses on Gnostic motifs. impossible to untangle. Rather than authors of dystopian fiction before him. metaphysical world to which he ascends at the end of the novel. vanish. This double has an “occult influence” on Cincinnatus. Nabokov does not lay out specifics. but rather uses a web of ambiguity that. These ambiguities cause readers to pause and consider what the reason for the hiccup could be. Vladimir Alexandrov writes a study. In 1991. This metaphysical otherworld is contrasted with Cincinnatus‟ immediate surroundings—a theatrical simulacrum that doesn‟t quite make sense. but also in the structure of the novel itself. Cincinnatus is frequently at odds with gaps in his vocabulary.

Links to Christian tradition and iconography are extensively explored. asserting that Nabokov himself said that the novel is “in direct connection with the times we live in” in a 1938 letter. Delicate Markers: Subtexts in Vladimir Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading explores said subtexts in greater depth than they ever have been before. making it a difficult act to follow. This quote is not mentioned in any previous criticism and is directly at odds with Nabokov‟s statements in his introduction to the English edition. Zhukovsky. rather than Gnostic subtext. Shapiro treats religious and semi-religious elements simply as subtext. the Christ motif. summarized above.that the metaphysical “otherworld” should be placed at the center of the novel. Gavriel Shapiro becomes the first and only critic to devote an entire book to the novel. He analyses Nabokov‟s use of alphabetic chromesthesia and the implications of this use in his choices of character names. Lawrence 10 . and distinctly Christian binary pairs such as Christ/Antichrist (Cincinnatus/Pierre). He posits that the indistinct nature of these allusions add to the atmosphere of mysteriousness as well as suggest that the reader should compare the characters and devices of Invitation to these authors‟ works. not as indications of Nabokov‟s own beliefs. not the aesthetic “politics” of 14 This aspect of the novel was previously explored by Johnson. including the Salome motif. The next 2001. Dana Dragunoiu‟s “Vladimir Nabokov‟s Invitation to a Beheading and the Russian Radical Tradition” takes Invitation criticism down an odd path.14 His chapter on allusions to Russian writers connects Invitation to writers such as Pushkin. a connection frequently mentioned but hardly explored. An entire chapter draws parallels with Baudelaire‟s Flowers of Evil. Gogol. As the title suggests. and Chernislovsky. In 1998. Shapiro‟s book is well-researched and exhaustive. Dragunoiu‟s focus on the politics of Invitation (the real politics. Unlike Grossman or Alexandrov. Dragunoiu is primarily concerned with the implications of radical politics of the novel.

especially. Invitation‟s critics agree on one thing—the novel is a wonderfully complex and interesting read. It is these authors. A thoughtful psychoanalytic study could have added an interesting dimension to the criticism. Langen‟s article is the most recent piece of published criticism on Invitation to a Beheading. We cannot help but wonder. which enhances the reader‟s understanding of Invitation’s motifs. and artful nature of Invitation to a Beheading. as well as mythic allusions and Russian literary history. provide an excellent synthesis of information from Nabokov‟s autobiography. Johnson and Shapiro. Due to the highly surreal. however. if Nabokov‟s influence caused some harm. he claims. thematic motifs. His most memorable suggestion lies in his comparison of the world of Invitation to a Möbius strip. who adhered closest to Nabokov‟s critical demands. Lawrence 11 . but simply the flip-side to the world he already knows. Timothy Langon‟s 2004 article The Ins and Outs of Invitation to a Beheading uses mathematics to explore the concept of in/out in the novel. Some of Invitation‟s critic‟s are quite good at expanding upon the novel‟s charms. or philosophical implications. that provide the most interesting and revealing studies of the text. Indeterminacy is at the center of the novel.Alter) directly disobeys Nabokov‟s demand that politics be left out of interpretations of Invitation. It would seem that Nabokov‟s heavy-handed meddling deserves merit. He follows Leona Toker‟s study of the role of indeterminacy in the novel and is also strongly influenced by Johnson. Finally. This is one of its many charms. most agree that there is no single “correct” interpretation. symbolic. Whether they choose to focus on issues of realism. which implies that Cincinnatus‟ otherworld will not be a true escape.

the best Invitation criticism remains true to the authors wishes. Works Consulted Lawrence 12 . it‟s a pleasant anomaly. For now.Several other schools of theory—including Marxist and postmodern theories—have stayed away from this text. Considering the trends of the last fifty years. though. perhaps to the detriment of its body of criticism.

of whom he claimed to be ignorant despite similarities in Invitation‟s structure to The Trial‟s. Vladimir. Web. 1984. as well as his writing experiences. Alter." Motives for Fiction. 22 Oct. 1982. 1997." Nabokov's Fifth Arc. 105-121. Stephen. First printed in Alexandrov‟s Nabokov’s Otherworld in 1991. JSTOR.” Boegeman. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. Robert. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 61-75.Alexandrov. Austin: University of Texas Press. Boegeman spends pages speculating on Nabokov‟s precise relationship with Kafka. ruptures which “heighten the reader‟s sense of the narrated world. "The Otherworld in Invitation to a Beheading. which tend to happen directly after a reading experience. 93118. Blackwell. "Nabokov and the Art of Politics. 39. Blackwell states that “The reading and the protagonist both are engaged in creating a world through reading. "Invitation to a Beheading and the Many Shades of Kafka.” He also traces Cincinnatus‟ personal reading experiences in relation to the events of the novel. After chronicling experiences of both Cincinnatus as a reader and the reader (as a reader). 2010. Margaret Byrd. He particularly focuses on the vital role of “rupture” in the process of reading the novel. She also claims that Invitation is a fable without a moral and explores Invitation‟s relationship Lawrence 13 . Like Peterson. Blackwell focuses on the significance of reading to the form and theme of the novel.1 (1995):38-53. Originally published in 1978 as “The Alpha and Omega of Nabokov‟s Prisonhouse of Language: Alphabetic Iconism in Invitation to a Beheading” in Russian Literature. “Reading and Rupture in Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading” The Slavic and East European Journal." Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading: A Critical Companion.

2010." Boston: Little. D. Grossmith. Ed: Julian W. 3-44. 2010." Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading: A Critical Companion. "Invitation to a Beheading: Nabokov's 'Violin in a Void'. D.2 (1987): 51-74.with some of Nabokov‟s other works. Robert. "The Alpha and Omega in Invitation to a Beheading. Project Muse. "The Ins and Outs of Invitation to a Beheading. (1982): 81-98.” Poetics Today. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. 12. Julian W. JSTOR. Langen. 1967. Timothy. Project Muse. Connolly." Journal of Modern Literature 25. 1997. Drangunoiu.1 (2001): 53-69. Web. Andrew. Dana. 22 Oct." Nabokov Studies (2004): 5970. Lawrence 14 . Barton. 2846." Worlds in Regression: Some Novels of Vladimir Nabokov. “Spatial Modeling and Deixis: Nabokov‟s Invitation to a Beheading. "Vladimir Nabokov‟s Invitation to a Beheading and the Russian Radical Tradition. "Nabokov: His Life in Art. 22 Oct. Johnson."Essays in Poetics: The Journal of the British Neo-Formalist School . Ann Arbor: Ardis Publishers.. 185-196. Connolly provides a commentary of Invitation‟s criticism through 1997. "Spiralizing the Circle: The Gnostic Subtext in Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading. Web. Barton. including The Gift and The Real Life of Sebastian Knight. Brown and Co. Field. Connolly. Originally published in 1978 as “The Alpha and Omega of Nabokov‟s Prisonhouse of Language: Alphabetic Iconism in Invitation to a Beheading” in Russian Literature. 1985. Johnson. 2010. Web. 22 Oct.

Dmitri Nabokov. EBSCO. 1989. which occur frequently when confronted by his captors. Vladimir. Cincinnatus‟s silences. this triumph is “very real. 1980. Brian Thomas. "Silence and the Ineffable in Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading. silence represents “there." Nabokov Studies (1995): 191-212. Therefore. She states that Invitation represents the triumph of the human consciousness over average reality. Pacific Coast Philology (1970): 46-53. Web. Ellen. 2010. his father. Pifer focuses on the binary pairs individual/state and true art/creaky theatrics. are also connected to the otherworld.Nabokov. Cecilia. 2010. Peterson. This translation by Dmitri Nabokov was created in collaboration with the author. Despite the high surreality of the novel. MLA International Bibliography. represent a lack that will later be filled by the language of the otherworld (there). namely Cincinnatus‟s mother. Dale E. Web. EBSCO. 7 Nov. The dystopian world of Invitation represents a totalitarian government‟s demand that the individual submit. “Nabokov‟s Invitation to a Beheading: The Parody of a Tradition. 7 Nov. Pifer. Project Muse. "Breaking the Law of Averages: Invitation to a Beheading. "Nabokov's Invitation: Literature as Execution. Web." Nabokov and the Novel. Trans. 2010. and the prison librarian.” This interpretation suggests that other sometimes-silent characters. MLA International Bibliography.” Pifer.5 (1981): 824-836. Ellen. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Invitation to a Beheading. 22 Oct. He focuses on the privilege given to silence over speech. Lawrence 15 . Cincinnatus is able to change the world he lives in simply by changing his perception of it. Oles. New York: Vintage. Oles builds on Alexandrov‟s analysis of Neoplatonic themes in Invitation. 49-67." PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 96.

Toker. Leona." Nabokov: Mysteries of Literary Structures. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Shapiro. New York: Peter Lang. Delicate Markers: Subtexts in Vladimir Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading. Lawrence 16 . 1998. "Invitation to a Beheading: 'Nameless Existence. Gavriel. 1989. 123141. Intangible Substance'.

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