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'.
Vladimir Nabokov was born in 1899 in St Petersburg. He wrote his first literary works in Russian, but rose to international prominence as a masterly prose stylist for the novels he composed in English, most famously, Lolita. Between 1923 and 1940 he published novels, short stories, plays, poems and translations in the Russian language and established himself as one of the most outstanding Russian émigré writers. He died in 1977.