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The Book of Laughter and Forgetting Paperback – April 7, 1999
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In one of the finer modern ironies of the life-imitates-art sort, the country that Kundera seemed to be writing about when he talked about Czechoslovakia is, thanks to the latest political redefinitions, no longer precisely there. This kind of disappearance and reappearance is, partly, what Kundera explores in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. In this polymorphous work -- now a novel, now autobiography, now a philosophical treatise -- Kundera discusses life, music, sex, philosophy, literature and politics in ways that are rarely politically correct, never classifiable but always original, entertaining and definitely brilliant. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
""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"
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Top Customer Reviews
This book predates 'Unbearable Lightness of Being' and it's spiritual sequel 'Immortality' and you can see many of the themes from those emerging here. There is almost no narrative path connecting the entire book unlike the other two mentioned but as fans of Kundera might expect the whole work feels cohesive in a hard to explain way. The story shifts effortlessly between musings on the thematic intentions of classical composers to brutally objective descriptions of sexual debauchery. Even more than other books by this author this book almost requires repeat readings or extensive margin notes. Although the story never drags, it is often hard to get your bearings when you pick it up midway. The story is dense enough and Kundera's dry almost morbid humor is entertaining enough that reading in small chunks is not a waste but you will definitely reach the end wondering if you missed something important.
The amount of 'taboo' subjects and crazy situations contained the book will make you cringe while trying to recommend it to your friends. It almost feels too personal to give any specific opinions about the book knowing that another person will have that in mind as they reached parts the evoke mixed and confusing emotional responses. All in all an excellent book but I wouldn't recommend it to my mom.
I recommend "the unbearable lightness of being" by the same author as well.
Milan Kundera has done a splendid and inspiring job.