Kundera's first work of nonfiction is a brilliant example of idea that the best practitioners make the best preachers
Milan KunderaThe Czech writer Milan Kundera, born Apr. 1, 1929, has lived in France since 1975, persuaded to self-exile by the censoring or suppression of his work by the government of his native country. Kundera has long denied any political motivation in his writings, however. His work is always humorous, skeptical, and fundamentally pessimistic in describing the universal human condition, whether under Communism or elsewhere. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1979) is his most celebrated novel. Other highly regarded works include The Joke (1967); Laughable Loves, a collection of short stories originally published in the 1960s ; Life Is Elsewhere (1969); and The Unbearable Lightness of Being ("Nesnesitelná Lehkost Bytí", 1984). In The Art of the Novel (1988), a collection of essays, Kundera repeats his conviction that the novel must be "autonomous," created independent of any system of political belief.
Kundera's first work of nonfiction is a brilliant example of idea that the best practitioners make the best preachers. This is how literary criticism should be written. In clear and concise prose and with a good sense of humor, the talented novelist explains his tools for creation. The first essay, "The Depreciated Legacy of Cervantes," explores the going forth of Quioxte in to the godless world. Further essays are the "Dialogue on the Art of the Novel," "Notes Inspired by 'The Sleepwalkers'," "Dialogue on the Art of Composition" - each of which analyze mysteries of the nuts and bolts of writing. Following this are three astonishing essays. The first "Somewhere Behind," dicusses the uniquely modern idea of the 'Kafkan.' This is followed by "Sixty-three Words," a sublime and perverse dictionary of Kundera's thought. And finally the elegant "Jerusalem Address," which explores the implications behind the old Jewish proverb: What man calls thinking, God calls laughter
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Last Updated: December 11, 1998