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The Joke

by

The Joke Cover

 

Staff Pick

Whether or not Milan Kundera squealed on anyone during the communist rule of his home country of Czechoslovakia is beside the point: the man was and is a good writer. Though this tale is often overlooked when one considers Kundera's more famous work, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, this one is right up there with it. To get The Joke, read it and prepare not to laugh.
Recommended by Carson, Powells.com

Whether or not Milan Kundera squealed on anyone during the communist rule of his home country of Czechoslovakia is beside the point: the man was and is a good writer. Though this tale is often overlooked when one considers Kundera's more famous work, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, this one is right up there with it. To get The Joke, read it and prepare not to laugh.
Recommended by Carson, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Chapter One

Ludvik

So here I was, home again after all those years. Standing in the main square (which I had crossed countless times as a child, as a boy, as a young man), I felt no emotion whatsoever; all I could think was that the flat space, with the spire of the town hall (like a soldier in an ancient helmet) rising above the rooftops, looked like a huge parade ground and that the military past of the Moravian town, once a bastion against Magyar and Turk invaders, had engraved an irrevocable ugliness on its face.

During those years, there was nothing to attract me to my hometown; I told myself that I had grown indifferent to it, which seemed natural: I had been away for fifteen years, had almost no friends or acquaintances left here (and wished to avoid the ones I did have), my mother was buried among strangers in a grave I had never tended. But I had been deceiving myself what I had called indifference was in fact rancor; the reasons for it had escaped me, because here as elsewhere I had had both good and bad experiences, but the rancor was there, and it was this journey that had made me conscious of it: the mission that had brought me here could easily have been accomplished in Prague, after all, but I had suddenly begun to feel an irresistible attraction to the prospect of carrying it out here in my hometown precisely because this was a mission so cynical and low as to mock any suspicion that I was returning out of some maudlin attachment to things past. The local hospital is a complex of buildings and pavilions scattered over a large landscaped area; I went into the booth at the gate and asked the guard to connect me with Virology; he shoved the telephone over to the edge, of his desk and said, "02." 1 dialed 02, only to learn that Mr.

Kostka had just left and was on his way out. I sat down on a bench near the gate so as not to miss him, and watched men wandering here and there in blue-and-white-striped hospital gowns. Then I saw him: he was walking along deep inthought, tall, thin, likeably unattractive, yes, it was clearly he.

Synopsis:

All too often, this brilliant novel of thwarted love and revenge miscarried has been read for its political implications. Now, a quarter century after The Joke was first published and several years after the collapse of the Soviet-imposed Czechoslovak regime, it becomes easier to put such implications into perspective in favor of valuing the book (and all Kundera 's work) as what it truly is: great, stirring literature that sheds new light on the eternal themes of human existence.

The present edition provides English-language readers an important further means toward revaluation of The Joke. For reasons he describes in his Author's Note, Milan Kundera devoted much time to creating (with the assistance of his American publisher-editor) a completely revised translation that reflects his original as closely as any translation possibly can: reflects it in its fidelity not only to the words and syntax but also to the characteristic dictions and tonalities of the novel's narrators. The result is nothing less than the restoration of a classic.

Synopsis:

All too often, this brilliant novel of thwarted love and revenge miscarried has been read for its political implications. Now, a quarter century after The Joke was first published and several years after the collapse of the Soviet-imposed Czechoslovak regime, it becomes easier to put such implications into perspective in favor of valuing the book (and all Kundera 's work) as what it truly is: great, stirring literature that sheds new light on the eternal themes of human existence.

The present edition provides English-language readers an important further means toward revaluation of The Joke. For reasons he describes in his Author's Note, Milan Kundera devoted much time to creating (with the assistance of his American publisher-editor) a completely revised translation that reflects his original as closely as any translation possibly can: reflects it in its fidelity not only to the words and syntax but also to the characteristic dictions and tonalities of the novel's narrators. The result is nothing less than the restoration of a classic.

About the Author

The Franco-Czech novelist Milan Kundera was born in Brno and has lived in France, his second homeland, since 1975. He 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.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060995058
Author:
Kundera, Milan
Publisher:
Harper Perennial
Author:
by Milan Kundera
Location:
New York, NY
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Continental european fiction (fictional works
Subject:
Political fiction
Subject:
Irony
Subject:
Didactic fiction
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Series Volume:
89-337
Publication Date:
19000131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
8 x 5.3125 in 37.92 oz

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Staff Picks
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Joke New Trade Paper
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Product details 336 pages Harper Perennial - English 9780060995058 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Whether or not Milan Kundera squealed on anyone during the communist rule of his home country of Czechoslovakia is beside the point: the man was and is a good writer. Though this tale is often overlooked when one considers Kundera's more famous work, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, this one is right up there with it. To get The Joke, read it and prepare not to laugh.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Whether or not Milan Kundera squealed on anyone during the communist rule of his home country of Czechoslovakia is beside the point: the man was and is a good writer. Though this tale is often overlooked when one considers Kundera's more famous work, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, this one is right up there with it. To get The Joke, read it and prepare not to laugh.

"Synopsis" by , All too often, this brilliant novel of thwarted love and revenge miscarried has been read for its political implications. Now, a quarter century after The Joke was first published and several years after the collapse of the Soviet-imposed Czechoslovak regime, it becomes easier to put such implications into perspective in favor of valuing the book (and all Kundera 's work) as what it truly is: great, stirring literature that sheds new light on the eternal themes of human existence.

The present edition provides English-language readers an important further means toward revaluation of The Joke. For reasons he describes in his Author's Note, Milan Kundera devoted much time to creating (with the assistance of his American publisher-editor) a completely revised translation that reflects his original as closely as any translation possibly can: reflects it in its fidelity not only to the words and syntax but also to the characteristic dictions and tonalities of the novel's narrators. The result is nothing less than the restoration of a classic.

"Synopsis" by , All too often, this brilliant novel of thwarted love and revenge miscarried has been read for its political implications. Now, a quarter century after The Joke was first published and several years after the collapse of the Soviet-imposed Czechoslovak regime, it becomes easier to put such implications into perspective in favor of valuing the book (and all Kundera 's work) as what it truly is: great, stirring literature that sheds new light on the eternal themes of human existence.

The present edition provides English-language readers an important further means toward revaluation of The Joke. For reasons he describes in his Author's Note, Milan Kundera devoted much time to creating (with the assistance of his American publisher-editor) a completely revised translation that reflects his original as closely as any translation possibly can: reflects it in its fidelity not only to the words and syntax but also to the characteristic dictions and tonalities of the novel's narrators. The result is nothing less than the restoration of a classic.

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