Nabokov’s Gnosis of Freedom: Invitation to a Beheading – Quote of Day

Nabokov’s Gnosis of Freedom: Invitation to a Beheading –

It was then that Cincinnatus stopped and, looking around him as if he had just entered this stony solitude, summoned up all his will, evoked the full extent of his life, and endeavored to comprehend his situation with the utmost exactitude. Accused of the most terrible of crimes, gnostical turpitude, so rare and so unutterable that it was necessary to use circumlocutions like “impenetrability,” “opacity,” “occlusion”; sentenced for that crime to death by beheading; emprisoned in the fortress in expectation of the unknown but near and inexorable date (which he distinctly anticipated as the wrenching, yanking and crunch of a monstrous tooth, his whole body being the inflamed gum, and his head that tooth); standing now in the prison corridor with a sinking heart—still alive, still unimpaired, still Cincinnatic —Cincinnatus C. felt a fierce longing for freedom, the most ordinary, physical, physically feasible kind of freedom, and instantly he imagined, with such sensuous clarity as though it all was a fluctuating corona emanating from him, the town beyond the shallowed river, the town, from every point of which one could see—now in this vista, now in that, now in crayon, and now in ink—the tall fortress within which he was. And so powerful and sweet was this tide of freedom that everything seemed better than it really was: his gaolers, who in fact were everyone, seemed more tractable; in the confining phenomena of life his reason sought out a possible trail, some kind of vision danced before his eyes—like a thousand iridescent needles of light that surround the dazzling reflection of the sun in a nickel-plated sphere …

-Vladimir Nabokov,  Invitation to a Beheading

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