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Testaments Betrayed: An Essay in Nine Parts Paperback – August 2, 1996

3.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Milan Kundera, one of the twentieth century's masters of fiction and author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Immortality, offers a brilliant and thought provoking essay, following in the tradition of his highly regarded The Art of the Novel. Testaments Betrayed is written like a novel: the same characters appear and reappear throughout the nine parts of the book, as do the principal themes that preoccupy the author. Kundera once again celebrates the art of the novel, from its birth in a spirit of humor unique to European culture and sensibility - illustrated by some wonderful examples from the work of Rabelais and Cervantes - through its flowering in successive centuries. He celebrates the particular wisdom the novel offers about human existence. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this stimulating, free-form essay, Czech novelist Kundera (The Art of the Novel) traces the evolution of the novel from Rabelais to Kafka and draws parallels between literature and music as he shuttles effortlessly among Tolstoy, Nietzsche, Chopin, Thomas Mann, Bach and Andre Breton. The betrayals implied by the title include conductor Ernest Ansermet's rejection of the music of his erstwhile friend Igor Stravinsky; the halfhearted support for Salman Rushdie by intellectuals who misconstrued his Satanic Verses as an attack on religious faith; and Hemingway biographer Jeffrey Meyers's "kitsch-making" interpretations, which, in Kundera's view, confuse Hemingway's life with his fiction. Another alleged "testament betrayed" involves Max Brod, Kafka's friend and literary executor, accused here of promoting an image of Kafka as saintly martyr. Because of Brod, Kundera argues, Kafka's works tend to be read either as autobiographical or as religious allegories instead of as "the real world transformed by an immense imagination." First serial to the New York Review of Books.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 279 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (January 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060927518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060927516
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is one of the most important books I've ever read. It is of interest, of course, to people involved with literature, music, translation, or who are interested in Kafka, Picasso, Hemmingway, Stravinsky, or others Kundera talks about. But I think the real importance of this book applies to any reader. It has to do with Milan Kundera's beautiful illustrations as to how we as humans try to make our own heroes everyone else's heroes, too, and in the process destroy many of the things we value and love about them. This is a vital idea in the modern world, where celebrity, biography, and voyeurism are always so present. Also, the statements Kundera makes on the nature of friendship inspire deep reflection on the qualities of our relationships with those we hold dear.
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Format: Paperback
This is a moving book, written in Kundera`s clear, humorous style which talks about the novel and warns us from distortions of novels` meanings by translators who do not understand the authors. Kundera`s love for his art and breadth of vision is astounding and his teachings on life and philosophy on which this book is based on are very inspiring. Reading this brilliant masterpiece we will learn one thing: history- we can never get rid of history: "how sweet it would be to forget that monster". The suitable book for lover`s of Milan Kundera.
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Format: Paperback
In Testaments Betrayed, Kundera describes the waning days of modernism (focusing on the novel) in an historical (and at times hysterical) light. But what makes this book of interest to people who usually like to read novels rather than critiques of novels, is Kundera's marvelous ability to combine the lucid explanation and analysis of ideas with marvelous wit that seems almost foreign to serious tone of most modern literary criticism. In reading Testaments Betrayed I repeatedly experienced the wonderfully paradoxical feeling of laughing because of the profoundness, the very seriousness of Kundera's ideas
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hello, I started reading a borrowed copy of Testaments Betrayed (HarperCollins Publishers, 1995) and when I got to the sentence on p'85 "Through ecstasy, emotion reaches its climax, and thereby at the same time its negation (it's oblivion)." I had to have my own copy. I ordered a copy on Amazon, the Harper Perennial edition published in 2001 and before I continued reading, I looked again for this sentence, wanting to savor it - and it was not there. It seems to have been omitted. Now this sentence, to me, is the center-piece of the book, a key lens through which to see Kundera and his work, and a key lens through which he wishes us to see existence. I offer it here as a way to add to the interpretive endeavor for those folk who may not see this sentence in the edition they own. I shall have to find a copy of the edition I had started reading, as I can't be without either this book, a magisterial tour de force written by a master, or that sentence, which, in its absence, I want from time to time to re-read, and when re-reading it, be transported again into an ecstatic reverie in just the way Kundera describes it.
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Format: Paperback
Kundera's essays are wide-ranging, challenging, and totally worthwhile. Following up on 'The Art of the Novel,' Kundera argues for an artistic approach to the novel, tackling along the way music, ethics, and many other topics. It is also really pleasurable to read, which isn't at all trivial. Since reading 'Testaments Betrayed,' I have lent my copy to quite a few friends and bought copies for others.
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Format: Paperback
Kundera shows you how to approach, read, and understand literature in a way no one else can. He is absolutely brilliant and one should read all of his essays in order to get a full view of his theories, as certain themes and subjects permeate all his writing.
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