Milan Kundera Short Fiction Analysis
That the West expects writers from Eastern (or what Milan Kundera prefers to call Central) Europe to be political was something Kundera learned the hard way when an English publisher, in the wake of the Soviet invasion, restructured and to some extent even rewrote The Joke to make it into what Kundera subsequently claimed it was not: a political protest against communism rather than a work of fiction (or, as Kundera countered at the time, a love story only). In terms of ideological preference, Kundera describes himself as “an agnostic” no more interested in a literature of politics than in a literature of the author’s personality. He is, in other words, no more and no less opposed to communist ideology than he is to capitalist (or communist) “Imagology,” as he terms the assault upon individual freedom in his sixth novel, Nesmrtelnost (1990; Immortality, 1991). His fiction is neither political nor didactic (moralistic), autobiographical nor journalistic. Rather, it is deeply meditative—more an exploration than an explanation.
Kundera traces his literary lineage back to Miguel de Cervantes, François Rabelais, Denis Diderot, Laurence Sterne, and more recently to the great twentieth century Central European writers Hermann Broch, Jaroslav Haek, Franz Kafka, Robert Musil, and Witold Gombrowicz. What attracts him to the first four is their sense of play, and to the latter five their “search for new forms,” a search...
(The entire section is 3577 words.)
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