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ABSTRACT. This article deals with the collective consciousness of Russian society in Vladimir Nabokov’s “Invitation to a Beheading” from a socio-political perspective with subtle references to the novel’s historical background. The novel treats of a majority whose class consciousness of anxiety as a phenomenon is determined by the ideologies of communist and Marxist Bolshevism. From this perspective, characters’ individualities are deprecated to the level of materiality in the imbroglio pre¬vailing in Russia during the post-revolutionary period. As the rever¬beration of the centrifugal voices are ineluctable in monologic socio-political backgrounds, another-voiced gnostic turpitude (referring to cognition and epistemology), i.e. Cincinnatus’ deconstructive worldview, becomes tragically dramatized in the rhetoric of the invitation to his beheading. The other-voicedness of the novel’s main character is charged with being opaque and to top it all off, sentenced to death on the ground that his mindset is not transparent (e.g. Freud analyzes the so-called “illusions” on which societies are based with the disclaimer that “any such venture is invalidated from the outset”). Worse is the inaptitude of language whenever Cincinnatus is to disabuse the abject position of man in the ravine of material society. The communication between the macrocosmic world of Cincinnatus and the cosmic world of the material-minded majority becomes abortive since the very nuance lies in the material/immaterial tenets both sides espouse in their theory of knowledge, and the very consequence of their coalescence becomes the tragic death of any consummating movement. pp. 180–186

Keywords: gnostic turpitude; collective consciousness; repressive reality; transparent world; spiritual opacity; Vladimir Nabokov; Invitation to a Beheading

MAJID SHIRVANI
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Lorestan University, Khorramabad

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