Milan Kundera & Feminism

Overview

Since sexuality and sexual politics account for the most consistently engaged tensions in Milan Kundera's fiction, it is surprising that critical attention to Kundera's work has yet to produce an extensive study that concentrates on the Czech novelist's problematic representations of women. In this study, O'Brien offers two such in-depth considerations: First he tracks the (mis)representations of the female characters; then he explores the promise of reading Kundera from the feminist perspective. Initially, ...

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Overview

Since sexuality and sexual politics account for the most consistently engaged tensions in Milan Kundera's fiction, it is surprising that critical attention to Kundera's work has yet to produce an extensive study that concentrates on the Czech novelist's problematic representations of women. In this study, O'Brien offers two such in-depth considerations: First he tracks the (mis)representations of the female characters; then he explores the promise of reading Kundera from the feminist perspective. Initially, O'Brien takes Kundera to task for representing women from a perspective dominated by either/or, opposition-based frameworks. Instead of dismissing Kundera as sexist, however, O'Brien takes these concerns further, arguing that a feminist-postmodernist approach shows Kundera exposing, not reinforcing, the misrepresentation of women. Using an eclectic perspective that draws on the insights of feminist criticism and deconstruction, the author looks to strong women, such as The Unbearable Lightness of Being's Sabina in order to develop a method of simultaneously appreciating the complicated surfaces and the paradoxical depths of Kundera's work. Considering O'Brien's own cross-purpose and Kundera's famous penchant for ambiguity, the duality of O'Brien's conclusions are appropriate. Milan Kundera & Feminism considers Kundera's contributions to the feminist critique of representation without ignoring the serious difficulties for the feminist reader.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312122065
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 4/1/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
List of Primary Works
Preface
Ch. 1 (MIS)Representing Women 1
Madonna/Whore 5
Beauty/Ugliness 13
Male Friendship/Female Antagonism 26
Strength/Weakness 39
Free Will/Fate 52
Ch. 2 Seeing through the Opposition: Kundera, Deconstruction, and Feminism 63
Deconstruction 65
The Joke 70
Laughable Loves 79
Life Is Elsewhere 87
The Farewell Party 91
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting 98
The Unbearable Lightness of Being 109
Immortality 123
Conclusions 137
Endnotes 145
Works Cited 167
Index 171
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