Written long before Lolita, twenty five years ago, this is both a specific study in terrorism- and an allegory of Man in prison (Life) awaiting his own execution for the vague crime of being Different (Alive). As Nabokov says in his preface, he has been compared to Kafka, and there is a resemblance to Kafka, to many others, in the mysterious imprisonment, the impotent seeking, in the confused dream of officialdom. But the long, nightmare, hopeless quality of Kafka is actually quite different from this brilliant, fractured reality in which all ugly, ordinary things are present but displaced; all friends, foes; all escapes,- carefully planned delusions, in an incredibly detailed and propped stage set which the hero demolishes at the last possible moment by refusing to believe, any more, in the necessity of his own destruction. The evolution of betrayals, of private pleas for understanding, freedom and/or acceptance, makes this frequently an agonizing book to read, as is life itself for certain people. There is as well a desperate, farcical humor. As the author himself says of this book- "Most may not see it but I know a few readers who will jump up, ruffling their hair"... Obviously not for the market of Lolita- but critical attention should help to bring this to the attention of an intellectually fastidious audience.