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Encounterby Milan Kundera
Synopses & Reviews
A brilliant new contribution to Kundera's ongoing reflections on art and artists, written with unparalleled insight, authority, and range of reference and allusion
Milan Kundera's new collection of essays is a passionate defense of art in an era that, he argues, no longer values art or beauty. With the same dazzling mix of emotion and idea that characterizes his novels, Kundera revisits the artists who remain important to him and whose works help us better understand the world we live in and what it means to be human. An astute reader of fiction, Kundera brings his extraordinary critical gifts to bear on the paintings of Francis Bacon, the music of Leos Janacek, and the films of Federico Fellini, as well as the novels of Philip Roth, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Gabriel GarcÍa Márquez, among others. He also takes up the challenge of restoring to its rightful place the work of Anatole France and Curzio Malaparte, major writers who have fallen into obscurity.
Milan Kundera's signature themes of memory and forgetting, the experience of exile, and the championing of modernist art are here, along with more personal reflections and stories. Encounter is a work of great humanism. Art is what we possess in the face of evil and the darker side of human nature. Elegant, startlingly original, and provocative, Encounter follows in the footsteps of Kundera's earlier essay collections, The Art of the Novel, Testaments Betrayed, and The Curtain.
"These mercurial occasional pieces crackle in their soulful brevity. Kundera's (Immortality) unexpected insights into surrealism (especially the poets), the darkly grotesque, the nonconformist temperament will be familiar to readers immersed in this author's fictions. Although a number of the essays date to the early and mid-1990s, there is a refreshing cohesion to this collection. Of specific interest are chapters comparing Francis Bacon to Samuel Beckett; Kundera's devilish mixing up of Roland Barthes with the dour theologian Karl Barth in a chance conversation; several discussions on the virtues of Rabelais as well as a restoration to prominence of Anatole France, who had been given the French intellectualist bum's rush; a powerful coupling of the bright birth of film with the sad death of Fellini; a scholar's relishing of Bertolt Brecht's body odor; the music of his fellow Czech Leos Janacek. Like the proverbial meal at the Chinese restaurant, the delicious musings of this book are filling at first. Two hours later, one craves more. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"A commanding, compelling collection...Kundera's essays express enduring aesthetic loyalties and provide unexpected aesthetic sparks that remind readers of a fuller range of authentic thought and feeling." New York Journal of Books
"A remarkable collection that showcases the author's diverse interests and sparkling talent...Kundera looks at the way exile and estrangement impact upon art and creation." Bill Dahl
Encounter is the latest addition to the acclaimed body of literary criticism from beloved author Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting). Novelist Russell Banks writes, “Not since Henry James, perhaps, has a fiction writer examined the process of writing with such insight, authority, and range of reference and allusion.” In Encounter, Kundera brilliantly reflects on some of his signature themes and old loves (Rabelais, Fellini, Janacek, Malaparte), on literature, on morality, and on the transformation of civilization as we know it.
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, Life Is Elsewhere, Farewell Waltz, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Immortality, and the short story collection Laughable Loves, all originally in Czech. His most recent novels, Slowness, Identity, and Ignorance, as well as his nonfiction works The Art of the Novel, Testaments Betrayed, and The Curtainwere originally written in French.
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