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In this dark farce of a novel, set in an old-fashioned Central European spa town, eight characters are swept up in an accelerating dance: a pretty nurse and her repairman boyfriend; an oddball gynecologist; a rich American (at once saint and Don Juan); a popular trumpeter and his beautiful, obsessively jealous wife; an disillusioned former political prisoner about to leave his country and his young woman ward. Perhaps the most brilliantly plotted and sheer entertaining of Milan Kundera’s novels, Farewell Waltz poses the most serious questions with a blasphemous lightness that makes us see that the modern world has deprived us even of the right to tragedy.
Milan Kundera’s lightest novel, a divertimento, an opera buffa, Slowness is also the first of this author’s fictional works to have been written in French.
In Ignorance, set in contemporary Prague, one of the most distinguished writers of our time takes up the complex and emotionally charged theme of exile and creates from it a literary masterpiece.
The Festival of Insignificance
Now, far from watching out, Kundera is finally and fully realizing his old aesthetic dream in this novel that we could easily view as a summation of his whole work. A strange sort of summation. Strange sort of epilogue. Strange sort of laughter, inspired by our time, which is comical because it has lost all sense of humor. What more can we say? Nothing. Just read.
All too often, this brilliant novel of thwarted love and revenge miscarried has been read for its political implications. Now though, a quarter century after The Joke was first published, and several years after the collapse of the Soviet-imposed Czechoslovak regime, it becomes easier to put such implications into perspective in favor of valuing the book (and all Kundera ‘s work) as what it truly is: great, stirring literature, that sheds new light on the eternal themes of human existence.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera tells the story of a young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing and one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover. This magnificent novel juxtaposes geographically distant places; brilliant and playful reflections; and a variety of styles to take its place as perhaps the major achievement of one of the world’s truly great writers.
With the same dazzling mix of emotion and idea that characterizes his novels he illuminates the art and artists who remain important to him and whose work helps us better understand the world. An astute and brilliant reader of fiction, Kundera applies these same gifts to the reading of Francis Bacon’s paintings, Leos Janácek’s music, the films of Federico Fellini, as well as to the novels of Philip Roth, Dostoyevsky, and García Márquez, among others. He also takes up the challenge of restoring to their rightful place the work of major writers like Anatole France and Curzio Malaparte who have fallen into obscurity.
The Art of the Novel
In seven independent, but closely related chapters, Milan Kundera presents his personal conception of the European novel, which he describes as ‘an art born of the laughter of God’.
Laughable Loves is a collection of stories that first appeared in print in Prague before 1968, but was then was subsequently banned. The seven stories are all concerned with love, or rather with the complex erotic games and stratagems employed by women and especially men as they try to come to terms with needs and impulses that can start a terrifying train of events.