Czech novelist the book of laughter and forgetting
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - WikipediaThe political situation in the former country of Czechoslovakia now the Czech Republic and Slovakia , where history and memory are manipulated to suit those in power, becomes a symbol for all of contemporary European culture. The novel is written in seven parts with an interwoven structure that the author likened to polyphony in music. Each part is a different story, and the stories are seemingly unrelated. The repetition of incidents, characters, and themes provides The Book of Laughter and Forgetting with its formal shape. Memories, which the characters want to keep or to forget, are a recurring subject, as is laughter, which is as often ironic as joyous.
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
In , while exiled in France, the Czechoslovakian writer Milan Kundera wrote a novel destined to become an international success. Forbidden to be published in his homeland, Kundera's The Book of Laughter and Forgetting was written in Czech but first published in French as Le livre du rire et de l'oublie in It was subsequently translated into English and published in the United States in Although the book is generally classified as a novel, it does not have the traditional structure of beginning, middle, and end. Rather, the seven parts of the book have individual characters and different plot lines. Yet The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is more than a collection of connected short stories. Indeed, the separate sections do not even correspond to the traditional notions regarding short stories.
The strangeness of, say, Donald Bartheleme or Barry Hannah derives from shifts in a culture that, even if we do not live in Manhattan or come from Mississippi, is American and therefore instinctively recognizable. These authors ring willful changes and inversions upon forms with which we, too, have become bored, and the lines they startle us with turn out to be hitherto undiscerned lines in our own face. But the mirror does not so readily give back validation with this playful book, more than a collection of seven stories yet certainly no novel, by an expatriate Czech resident in France, fascinated by sex, and prone to sudden, if graceful, skips into autobiography, abstract rumination, and recent Czech history. Milan Kundera, he tells us, was as a young man among that moiety of Czechs--"the more dynamic, the more intelligent, the better half"--who cheered the accession of the Communists to power in February He was then among the tens of thousands rapidly disillusioned by the harsh oppressions of the new regime: "And suddenly those young, intelligent radicals had the strange feeling of having sent something into the world, a deed of their own making, which had taken on a life of its own, lost all resemblance to the original idea, and totally ignored the originators of the idea.
Author Milan Kundera knows the truth of this statement firsthand. After participating in the Czech reform movement known as the Prague Spring—which Kundera wrote about in his smash hit The Unbearable Lightness of Being —he found himself on the wrong side of a totalitarian Communist regime.
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