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Invitation to a Beheading (Russian: Приглашение на казнь, lit. 'Invitation to an execution') is a novel by Russian American author Vladimir Nabokov. It was originally published in Russian from 1935 to 1936 as a serial in Sovremennye zapiski, a Russian émigré magazine. In 1938, the work was published in Paris, with an English translation following in 1959. The novel was translated into English by Nabokov's son, Dmitri Nabokov, under the author's supervision.
The novel is often described as Kafkaesque, but Nabokov claimed that at the time he wrote the book, he was unfamiliar with German and "completely ignorant" of Franz Kafka's work. Nabokov interrupted his work on The Gift in order to write Invitation to a Beheading, describing the creation of the first draft as "one fortnight of wonderful excitement and sustained inspiration." Some scholars have argued that the central plot of Invitation to a Beheading has its roots in Chernyshevski, a character from The Gift. Another view is that the novel functions as a roman à clef with the Platonic Socrates as its target.
While Nabokov stated in an interview that of all his novels, he held the greatest affection for Lolita, it was for Invitation to a Beheading that he held the greatest “esteem”.