Thursday, October 24, 2013

Invitation to a Beheading my favorite book.  It was written by the greatest writer in English of the twentieth century, Vladimir Nabokov, in 1935. While this novel was written originally in Russian, it was translated by the author's son while Nabokov was still living. Dmitri is really more of a car racer and opera singer than a professional translator, so I imagine Vladimir Nabokov had a lot of "input" into its translation.

The reason I love this book is because it is the best expression of a particular philosophy (my own) that I have found.  Whenever I am worried or depressed because I have forgotten what life is all about, I re-read this book.

It is a difficult read, and requires concentration. Nabokov loves to set puzzles in his novels, and, no matter how well-read you are, when you read a Nabokov book for the first time, you will always find a word you have never seen before and which you should definitely look up (because they never have a perfect synonym and always turn out to be very apt). I spent about a day puzzling over this line:
"Cincinnatus took this opportunity to take up from under the cot, and, with a high, purling sound, which became hesitant at the end, to..." 

I'm proud to say I eventually figured it out.

Whenever I tell someone that this is my favorite book and they ask to see it, they turn it around and read the back. The back gives some information about the plot of the book, and actually gives away the ending, so I scribbled it out on my copy. I don't recommend reading the back of this book (or that of any other novel). But just in case you do, make sure you don't read the last sentence.

Other books by Nabokov that you should read: 
His book on Gogol, which the University of Memphis library has (and which any citizen of Memphis can check out with a library card the University will give you)
The Gift
Lectures on Literature

I have not read Glory, which someone told me was Nabokov's best novel, because I'm saving it as something to look forward to.

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