NABOKV-L post 0002636, Wed, 17 Dec 1997 09:51:58 -0800

VN Bibliography: Connolly
NABOKOV'S _INVITATION TO A BEHEADING: A Critical Companion_. ed. Julian
W. Connolly. Northwestern UP, 1997. (Northwestern/AATSEEL Critical
Companions to Russian Literature). $17.95.
This collection of essays illustrates four different critical
approaches to one of Nabokov's best and most enigmatic novels.
Robert Alter's essay "Invitation to a Beheading: Nabokov and the Art of
Politics" offers a reading focusing on the interaction between the
aesthetic and sociopolitical dimensions of the novel. Dale Peterson's
"Nabokov's Invitation: Literature as Execution" is a metaliterary approach
viewing Cinncinatus as a literary character who escapes his fictional
world and also the reader's efforts to "capture" him. Vladimir
Alexandrov's "The Otherworld in Invitation to a Beheading" examines the
metaphysics underlying the novel, while D. Barton Johnson's whimsical "The
Alpha and Omega of Invitation to a Beheading" looks at the novel's
transcendental motif of Old Church Slavonic letter shapes.
Brian Boyd's "'Welcome to the Block,' Priglashenie na kazn' / Invitation
to a Beheading. A Documentary Record" -- is a compendium of VN's archival
materials. Editor Julian Connolly's "Invitation to a Beheading: Nabokov's
'Violin in a Void'" is an astute overview covering such topics as
critical response to the novel, central images, patterns and themes
(theater, masks, the spider & the moth, mirrors, the Tamara Gardens, and
the place of the novel in VN's career). The editor also has compiled an
excellent Bibliography.

If one is to choose from among VN's Russian novels for the most
suitable single classroom choice (and especially for non-Russian majors),
BEHEADING is an excellent choice. The book is short and demands
relatively little Russian cultural background (compared, say, to DAR).The
translation is brilliant and its structure, style, and themes come through
well. It is a fine example of international modernism. Like most such
novels, it makes heavy demands on the student -- more than the instructor
can deal with in a couple of lectures. This critical collection will serve
to bridge that gap and bring students to a fuller appreciation of
Nabokov's work.

D. Barton Johnson, Editor