The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

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The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera Summary

Rich in its stories, characters, and imaginative range, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is the novel that brought Milan Kundera his first big international success in the late 1970s. Like all his work, it is valuable for far more than its historical implications. In seven wonderfully integrated parts, different aspects of human existence are magnified and reduced, reordered and emphasized, newly examined, analyzed, and experienced.

A Study Guide for Milan Kundera's "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting"

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A Study Guide for Milan Kundera's "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting" by Gale, Cengage Learning Summary

A Study Guide for Milan Kundera's "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting," excerpted from Gale's acclaimed Novels for Students. This concise study guide includes plot summary; character analysis; author biography; study questions; historical context; suggestions for further reading; and much more. For any literature project, trust Novels for Students for all of your research needs.

Book of Laughter and Forgetting

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Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera Summary

A new edition of the seminal novel by a literary master, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its first publication. 'One is torn between profound pleasure in the novel's execution and wonder at the pain that inspired it.' Ian McEwan 'A masterpiece.' Salman Rushdie This book is a novel in the form of variations. The various parts follow each other like the various stages of a voyage, leading into the interior of a theme, the interior of a thought, the interior of a single, unique situation the understanding of which recedes from my sight into the distance. It is a book about laughter and forgetting, about forgetting and about Prague, about Prague and about the angels.

The Festival of Insignificance

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The Festival of Insignificance by Milan Kundera Summary

From the internationally acclaimed, bestselling author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, an unexpected and enchanting novel—the culmination of his life's work. Casting light on the most serious of problems and at the same time saying not one serious sentence; being fascinated by the reality of the contemporary world and at the same time completely avoiding realism—that’s The Festival of Insignificance. Readers who know Milan Kundera’s earlier books know that the wish to incorporate an element of the “unserious” in a novel is not at all unexpected of him. In Immortality, Goethe and Hemingway stroll through several chapters together talking and laughing. And in Slowness, Vera, the author’s wife, says to her husband: “you’ve often told me you meant to write a book one day that would have not a single serious word in it…I warn you: watch out. Your enemies are lying in wait.” 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.

Immortality

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Immortality by Milan Kundera Summary

Milan Kundera's sixth novel springs from a casual gesture of a woman to her swimming instructor, a gesture that creates a character in the mind of a writer named Kundera. Like Flaubert's Emma or Tolstoy's Anna, Kundera's Agnes becomes an object of fascination, of indefinable longing. From that character springs a novel, a gesture of the imagination that both embodies and articulates Milan Kundera's supreme mastery of the novel and its purpose; to explore thoroughly the great, themes of existence.

The JOKE

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The JOKE by Milan Kundera Summary

All too often, this brilliant novel of thwarted love and revenge miscarried has been read for its political implications. Now, 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 present edition provides English-language readers an important further means toward revaluation of The Joke. For reasons he describes in his Author's Note, Milan Kundera devoted much time to creating (with the assistance of his American publisher-editor) a completely revised translation that reflects his original as closely as any translation possibly can: reflects it in its fidelity not only to the words and syntax but also to the characteristic dictions and tonalities of the novel's narrators. The result is nothing less than the restoration of a classic.

Slowness

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Slowness by Milan Kundera Summary

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. Disconcerted and enchanted, the reader follows the narrator of Slowness through a midsummer's night in which two tales of seduction, separated by more than two hundred years, interweave and oscillate between the sublime and the comic. Underlying this libertine fantasy is a profound meditation on contemporary life: about the secret bond between slowness and memory, about the connection between our era's desire to forget and the way we have given ourselves over to the demon of speed. And about "dancers" possessed by the passion to be seen, for whom life is merely a perpetual show emptied of every intimacy and every joy.

The Book of Imitation and Desire: Reading Milan Kundera with Rene Girard

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The Book of Imitation and Desire: Reading Milan Kundera with Rene Girard by Trevor Cribben Merrill Summary

Trevor Cribben Merrill offers a bold reassessment of Milan Kundera’s place in the contemporary canon. Harold Bloom and others have dismissed the Franco-Czech author as a maker of “period pieces” that lost currency once the Berlin Wall fell. Merrill refutes this view, revealing a previously unexplored dimension of Kundera’s fiction. Building on theorist René Girard’s notion of “triangular desire,” he shows that modern classics such as The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting display a counterintuitive—and bitterly funny—understanding of human attraction. Most works of fiction (and most movies, too) depict passionate feelings as deeply authentic and spontaneous. Kundera’s novels and short stories overturn this romantic dogma. A pounding heart and sweaty palms could mean that we have found “the One” at last—or they could attest to the influence of a model whose desires we are unconsciously borrowing: our amorous predilections may owe less to personal taste or physical chemistry than they do to imitative desire. At once a comprehensive survey of Kundera’s novels and a witty introduction to Girard’s mimetic theory, The Book of Imitation and Desire challenges our assumptions about human motive and renews our understanding of a major contemporary author.

Encounter

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Encounter by Milan Kundera Summary

Milan Kundera’s brilliant new collection of essays is a passionate defense of art in an era that, he argues, no longer values art or beauty. With the same dazzling mix of emotion and ideas that characterizes his bestselling novels, the internationally acclaimed author revisits the artists whose works help us better understand what it means to be human. Elegant, startlingly original, and provocative, Encounter combines many of the author’s signature themes with personal reflections and stories.

The Art of the Novel

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The Art of the Novel by Milan Kundera Summary

In seven independent, but closely related chapters, the author presents his personal conception of the European novel, which he describes as 'an art born of the laughter of God'.

Jacques and His Master

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Jacques and His Master by Milan Kundera Summary

Jacques and His Master is a deliciously witty and entertaining "variation" on Diderot's novel Jacques le Fatalist, written for Milan Kundera's "private pleasure" in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia. When the "heavy Russian irrationality" fell on Czechoslovakia, Milan Kundera explains, he felt drawn to the spirit of the eighteenth century—"And it seemed to me that nowhere was it to be found more densely concentrated than in that banquet of intelligence, humor, and fantasy, Jacques le Fataliste." The upshot was this "Homage to Diderot," which has now been performed throughout the United States and Europe. Here, Jacques and His Master, newly translated by Simon Callow, is a text that will delight Kundera's admirers throughout the English-speaking world.

Identity

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Identity by Milan Kundera Summary

There are situations in which we fail for a moment to recognize the person we are with, in which the identity of the other is erased while we simultaneously doubt our own. This also happens with couples--indeed, above all with couples, because lovers fear more than anything else "losing sight" of the loved one. With stunning artfulness in expanding and playing variations on the meaningful moment, Milan Kundera has made this situation--and the vague sense of panic it inspires--the very fabric of his new novel. Here brevity goes hand in hand with intensity, and a moment of bewilderment marks the start of a labyrinthine journey during which the reader repeatedly crosses the border between the real and the unreal, between what occurs in the world outside and what the mind creates in its solitude. Of all contemporary writers, only Kundera can transform such a hidden and disconcerting perception into the material for a novel, one of his finest, most painful, and most enlightening. Which, surprisingly, turns out to be a love story.

Ignorance

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Ignorance by Milan Kundera Summary

A New York Times Notable Book Irena and Josef meet by chance while returning to their homeland, which they had abandoned twenty years earlier. Will they manage to pick up the thread of their strange love story, interrupted almost as soon as it began and then lost in the tides of history? The truth is that after such a long absence "their memories no longer match."

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera Summary

When The Unbearable Lightness of Being was first published in English, it was hailed as "a work of the boldest mastery, originality, and richness" by critic Elizabeth Hardwick and named one of the best books of 1984 by the New York Times Book Review. It went on to win the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction and quickly became an international bestseller. Twenty years later, the novel has established itself as a modern classic. To commemorate the anniversary of its first English-language publication, HarperCollins is proud to offer a special hardcover edition. A young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing; one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover -- these are the two couples whose story is told in this masterful novel. Controlled by day, Tereza's jealousy awakens by night, transformed into ineffably sad death-dreams, while Tomas, a successful surgeon, alternates loving devotion to the dependent Tereza with the ardent pursuit of other women. Sabina, an independent, free-spirited artist, lives her life as a series of betrayals -- of parents, husband, country, love itself -- whereas her lover, the intellectual Franz, loses all because of his earnest goodness and fidelity. In a world in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and by fortuitous events, a world in which everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. Hence we feel, says the novelist, "the unbearable lightness of being" -- not only as the consequence of our private acts but also in the public sphere, and the two inevitably intertwine. This magnificent novel encompasses the extremes of comedy and tragedy, and embraces, it seems, all aspects of human existence. It juxtaposes geographically distant places (Prague, Geneva, Paris, Thailand, the United States, a forlorn Bohemian village); brilliant and playful reflections (on "eternal return," on kitsch, on man and animals -- Tomas and Tereza have a beloved doe named Karenin); and a variety of styles (from the farcical to the elegiac) to take its place as perhaps the major achievement of one of the world's truly great writers.

Critical Essays on Milan Kundera

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Critical Essays on Milan Kundera by Peter Petro Summary

Each volume in this series provides an introduction tracing the subject author's critical reputation, trends in interpretation, developments in textual and biographical scholarship, and reprints of selected essays and reviews, beginning with the author's contemporaries and continuing through to current scholarship. Many volumes also feature new essays by leading scholars and critics, specially commissioned for the series.

Teacher's Guide Classroom Worksheets The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

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Teacher's Guide Classroom Worksheets The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by David Lee Summary

Classroom Worksheets and Activities is a series of books designed to provide teachers ready to use activities with students. The focus of this book is to provide student focused material. Information evaluating, labeling and discussing the text will not be presented in this series.This includes several labeled graphic organizers and advice on how to use them in the classroom. Several of these organizers can be used for assessment.

The Curtain

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The Curtain by Milan Kundera Summary

In this entertaining and always stimulating collection of seven essays, Kundera deftly sketches out his personal view of the history and value of the novel. Too often, he suggests, a novel is thought about only within the confines of the nation of its origin, when in fact the novel's development has always occurred across borders: Laurence Sterne learned from Rabelais, Henry Fielding from Cervantes, Joyce from Flaubert, García Márquez from Kafka. The real work of a novel is not bound up in the specifics of any one language: what makes a novel matter is its ability to reveal some previously unknown aspect of our existence. In The Curtain, Kundera skillfully describes how the best novels do just that.

Testaments Betrayed

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Testaments Betrayed by Milan Kundera Summary

Milan Kundera has established himself as one of the great novelists of our time with such books as The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Immortality and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. In Testaments Betrayed, he proves himself a brilliant defender of the moral rights of the artist and the respect due to a work of art and its creator's wishes. The betrayal of both—often by their most passionate proponents—is the principal theme of this extraordinary work. Readers will be particularly intrigued by Kundera's impassioned attack on society's shifting moral judgments and persecutions of art and artists, from Mayakovsky to Rushdie.

Farewell Waltz

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Farewell Waltz by Milan Kundera Summary

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. Written in Bohemia in 1969-70, this book was first published (in 1976) in France under the title La valse aux adieux (Farewell Waltz), and later in thirty-four other countries. This beautiful new translation, made from the French text prepared by the novelist himself, fully reflects his own tone and intentions. As such it offers an opportunity for both the discovery and the rediscovery of one of the very best of a great writer's works.

Flunking Sainthood

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Flunking Sainthood by Jana Reiss Summary

This wry memoir tackles twelve different spiritual practices in a quest to become more saintly, including fasting, fixed-hour prayer, the Jesus Prayer, gratitude, Sabbath-keeping, and generosity. Although Reiss begins with great plans for success ("Really, how hard could that be?" she asks blithely at the start of her saint-making year), she finds to her growing humiliation that she is failing - not just at some of the practices, but at every single one. What emerges is a funny yet vulnerable story of the quest for spiritual perfection and the reality of spiritual failure, which turns out to be a valuable practice in and of itself.