Ahoj everyone !
I didn’t have to search long for a place to start this literary world tour : thanks to a Czech friend, I already owned the perfect book to start with, which I really wanted to read since he gave it to me. So it is with much enthusiasm that I began with Laughable Loves, by Milan Kundera.
I won’t translate the back cover here, but it is only needed to know that it was a most intriguing abstract about the seriousness and absurdity of life (what a program !). Finally, I discovered a fascinating seven short stories’ collection. Dealing with classic themes – love, sex, identity, illusion, relations with others – Kundera is making them decidedly modern and uninhibited : he gives us a lucid and disenchanted vision of life, death and love.
The characters, not so much described but excessively expressive, present their inner thoughts to us uncompromisingly : we meet Martin, a compulsive seducer who doesn’t even consume his female conquests, the doctor Havel, an experimented and disillusioned love theorist, or Edouard, a young lover confronted to the rough difference between what he wants and what he gets…
Apart from the captivating thinking initiated by the book and its mastered writing, we can also get from Laughable Loves a peculiar atmosphere, and discover a political and ideological background : 1960s’ Czech Republic. Little touch by little touch, these short stories recall an oppressive communist regime, USSR’s satellite, monitoring its citizens’ professional and private lives (neighbourhood surveillance committees, control of abroad trips, public trials, repression of religious belief…). This discreet denunciation is even more remarkable since it is so inconspicuous, and gives the reading a particular dimension – a historical undertone.
Conclusion ? I made an excellent start with this book, and I really recommend it to everyone for its historical context, its literary treatment, its amazing punchlines that you keep in mind for a while, and its great readability (my personal fave ? Let the Old Dead Make Room for the Young Dead).
> KUNDERA, Milan – Laughable Loves, Gallimard, Folio – translated from Czech by François Kerel – (excellent !) postface by François Ricard.
> written listening to “Kde domov můj ?” .