The Book of Laughter and ForgettingPaperback
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- Publisher: FABER & FABER
- Format: Paperback | 320 pages
- Dimensions: 122mm x 196mm x 26mm | 259g
- Publication date: 20 May 1996
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 057117437X
- ISBN 13: 9780571174379
- Sales rank: 7,107
Commissioned and closely monitored by Milan Kundera himself, this new translation brings a clarity and unmatched fidelity to the author's original text. Widely held as a work of genius, "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting" is the novel that first brought him to the forefront of the international literary scene. Rich in stories, characters and imaginative range, it was written while Kundera was still forbidden to publish in his home country of Czechoslovakia, which was then behind the Iron Curtain. In seven wonderfully integrated parts, different aspects of modern existence -- from the posthumous erasure of "enemies" of communism from the historical record, to the subtle agony of the fading memory of a lost love, to the bizarre sexlessnes of modern promiscuity -- are explored with boldness, subversive humor and the magical power of fiction.
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Milan Kundera was born in Brno and has lived in France for over forty years. He is the author of the internationally acclaimed and bestselling novels The Joke (1967), Life is Elsewhere (1973), The Farewell Waltz (1976), The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1978), The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984), Immortality (1991), and the short-story collection Laughable Loves (1969), which were all originally written in Czech. His play, Jacques and His Master (1984), Slowness (1995), Identity (1998) and Ignorance (2002) were all originally written in French. Milan Kundera has also written extensively about the novel in four collections of essays - The Art of the Novel (1968), Testaments Betrayed (1993), The Curtain (2007) and Encounter (2009).
""The Book of Laughter and Forgetting calls itself a novel, although it is part fairy tale, part literary criticism, part political tract, part musicology, and part autobiography. It can call itself whatever it wants to, because the whole is genius.""-- New York Times""This book, as it bluntly calls itself, is brilliant and original, written with the purity and wit that invite us directly in."-- John Updike, "New York Times Book Review"
You get your money's worth with this novel. If highly charged eroticism is your fancy, you can find it here. If your taste runs to contemporary existentialism - the oblivion that faces those ensnared by political ideology - you get that too. No-one writes better than Kundera on what it is like to feel you have vanished from the face of the earth. But it is also a masterly disquisition on the nature of comedy; a treasurehouse of thought; living proof that a story and philosophical reflection can co-exist to the benefit of both. Review by Howard Jacobson, whose books include 'The Mighty Waltzer' (Kirkus UK)