The Art of the Novel by Milan Kundera, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
The Art of the Novel

The Art of the Novel

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by Milan Kundera
     
 

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Kundera brilliantly examines the work of such important and diverse figures as Rabelais. Cervantes, Sterne, Diderot, Flaubert, Tolstoy, and Musil. He is especially penetrating on Hermann Broch, and his exploration of the world of Kafka's novels vividly reveals the comic terror of Kafka's bureaucratized universe. Kundera's discussion of his own work includes his views

Overview

Kundera brilliantly examines the work of such important and diverse figures as Rabelais. Cervantes, Sterne, Diderot, Flaubert, Tolstoy, and Musil. He is especially penetrating on Hermann Broch, and his exploration of the world of Kafka's novels vividly reveals the comic terror of Kafka's bureaucratized universe. Kundera's discussion of his own work includes his views on the role of historical events in fiction, the meaning of action, and the creation of character in the postpsychological novel.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A novelist who writes eloquently about the wrenching dislocations of history, Kundera explains that his fictions use historical circumstances only to thrust his characters into a ``revelatory existential situation.'' The Czech writer (The Joke, Laughable Loves) draws lessons from Cervantes, who saw the world as a welter of contradictory truths, and from Kafka, who recognized that pure irrationality held center stage. In essays and dialogues, he discusses novelists whose works are sorely neglected (Broch, Diderot) and more familiar writers like Tolstoy, Flaubert, Musil and Sterne. He presents a 62-word glossary of key words to aid readers of his own novels (``Betrayal . . . Breaking ranks and going off into the unknown''). His strikingly original reflections crystallize his conviction that the modern novelist's greatest asset is the wisdom of uncertainty. (March)
Library Journal
Kundera's first nonfiction book alternates between passionately intelligent reflections on some of the novelists most important to himCervantes, Broch, and Kafkaand on his own challenging and important work. Although the Czech author's own fiction better proves his argument that the novel is far from dead (where there is no censorship), this book is very useful for understanding his works as continuing a Central European and international tradition. He is so dedicated to his art form that he evaluates contemporary culture on the basis of how well it supports the modern novel. The reader is left with a renewed appreciation of the form. For all literature collections.Ethan Bumas, formerly with the New Sch. for Social Research, New York

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060932947
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/01/2000
Edition description:
REVISED
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
5.29(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.42(d)

Read an Excerpt

Part One

The Depreciated Legacy of Cervantes

In 1935, three years before his death, Edmund Husserl gave his celebrated lectures in Vienna and Prague on the crisis of European humanity. For Husserl, the adjective "European" meant the spiritual identity that extends beyond geographical Europe (to America, for instance) and that was born with ancient Greek philosophy. In his view, this philosophy, for the first time in history, apprehended the world (the world as a whole) as a question to be answered. It interrogated the world not in order to satisfy this or that practical need but because "the passion to know had seized mankind."

The crisis Husserl spoke of seemed to him so profound that he wondered whether Europe was still able to survive it. The roots of the crisis lay for him at the beginning of the Modern Era, in Galileo and Descartes, in the one-sided nature of the European sciences, which reduced the world to a mere object of technical and mechanical investigation and put the concrete world of life, die Lebenswelt as he called it, beyond their horizon.

The rise of the sciences propelled man into the tunnels of the specialized disciplines. The more he advanced in knowledge, the less clearly could he see either the world as a whole or his own self, and he plunged further into what Husserl's pupil Heidegger called, in a beautiful and almost magical phrase, "the forgetting of being."

Once elevated by Descartes to "master and proprietor of, nature," man has now become a mere thing to the forces (of technology, of politics, of history) that bypass him, surpass him, possess him. To those forces, man's concrete being, his "world oflife" (die Lebenswelt), has neither value nor interest: it is eclipsed, forgotten from the start.

The Art ofthe Novel. Copyright © by Milan Kundera. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Milan Kundera is the author of the novels The Joke, Farewell Waltz, Life Is Elsewhere, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Immortality, and the short-story collection Laughable Loves—all originally written in Czech. His most recent novels Slowness, Identity, and Ignorance, as well as his nonfiction works The Art of the Novel, Testaments Betrayed, The Curtain, and Encounter, were originally written in French.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Paris, France
Date of Birth:
April 1, 1929
Place of Birth:
Brno, Czechoslovakia
Education:
Undergraduate degree in philosophy, Charles University, Prague, 1952

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