Books: The Dream of Cincinnatus C.

INVITATION TO A BEHEADING (223 pp.) —Vladimir Nabokov—Pufnam ($3.95).

The cell is bare except for the customary simple furniture, the hopeless messages from past prisoners scrawled on the walls and an overhead light that (perhaps like reason or the world itself) is naggingly off-center. The prisoner's name is Cincinnatus C., and he is under sentence of death for a misdeed that is not described; he only suspects that his crime is "opacity"—that stubborn, unknowing refusal to bare his soul which has always enraged a man's neighbors and masters. If the literary shades of other...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!