Milan Kundera & Michael Henry Heim (translator) A young woman is in love with a successful surgeon, a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing. His mistress, a free-spirited artist, lives her life as a series of betrayals - while her other lover, earnest, faithful, and good, stands to lose everything because of his noble qualities. In a world where lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and fortuitous events, and everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. Hence we feel “the unbearable lightness of being.”
A major achievement from one of the world’s truly great writers, Milan Kundera’s magnificent novel of passion and politics, infidelity and ideas, encompasses the extremes of comedy and tragedy, illuminating all aspects of human existence.
Milan Kundera & Aaron Asher (translator) 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.
Milan Kundera & Aaron Asher (translator) 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 sheerly 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 34 other countries. This beautiful 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.
Milan Kundera 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.
Milan Kundera & Linda Asher (translator) 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 this 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.
Milan Kundera 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 audio edition provides English-language listeners 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.
Milan Kundera From the internationally acclaimed, best-selling 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. Listeners 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 listen.
Milan Kundera & Linda Asher (translator) A New York Times Notable Book.
Irena and Josef meet by chance while returning to their homeland, which they had abandoned 20 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."
Milan Kundera & Linda Asher (translator) 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 listener follows the narrator of Slowness through a midsummer's night in which two tales of seduction, separated by more than 200 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.
Milan Kundera Milan Kundera is a master of graceful illusion and illuminating surprise. In one of these stories a young man and his girlfriend pretend that she is a stranger he picked up on the road - only to become strangers to each other in reality as their game proceeds. In another a teacher fakes piety in order to seduce a devout girl, then jilts her and yearns for God. In yet another girls wait in bars, on beaches, and on station platforms for the same lover, a middle-aged Don Juan who has gone home to his wife. Games, fantasies, and schemes abound in all the stories, while different characters react in varying ways to the sudden release of erotic impulses.