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Written in Berlin in 1934, Invitation to a Beheading contains all the surprise, excitement and magical intensity of a work created in two brief weeks of sustained inspiration. It takes us into the fantastic prison-world of Cincinnatus, a man condemned to death and spending his last days in prison not quite knowing when the end will come. Nabokov described the book as 'a violin in a void. The worldling will deem it a trick. Old men will hurriedly turn from it to regional romances and the lives of public figures ... The evil-minded will perceive in little Emmie a sister of little Lolita ... But I know a few readers who will jump up, ruffling their hair'.
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He did us all an honour by electing to use, and transform, our language. (Anthony Burgess)
Nabokov can move you to laughter in the way that masters can - to laughter that is near to tears. (The Guardian)
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) was one of the great writers of the twentieth century, as well as a translator and lepidopterist. His works include, from the Russian novels, The Luzhin Defense and The Gift; from the English novels, Lolita, Pnin, Pale Fire and Ada; the autobiographical Speak, Memory; translations of Alice in Wonderland into Russian and Eugene Onegin into English; and lectures on literature. All of the fiction and Speak, Memory are published in Penguin.
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