The Golden Apple of Eternal Desire Analysis

Milan Kundera

Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

As befits a story in which the narrator is divided between the self that acts and the self that stands apart and comments, the action is interspersed with his ironic observations and philosophical abstractions on the game. His attitude toward it is ambivalent. The game is a self-deluding farce, but it is also a vocation to which he has subjugated all personal interests and desires. He remains divided, a combination of the biblical betrayer Judas Iscariot and Doubting Thomas. Martin, the foil to the narrator, is like a character from mythology, an integrated being unhindered by doubts or a sense of irony, fighting the great interminable battle against the narrow confines of time and space.

This religious and heroic imagery, along with the heroic quest-type structure of the story and the elevated terminology used to describe the elements of the quest, combine to create a style that is at once self-mocking and reverential, in line with the narrator’s ambivalent stance. In contrast, the image used to describe men who bypass the levels of registration and contact to go straight for the last level—bedding the woman—is positively anti-heroic. These wretched, primitive types are likened to football players who press thoughtlessly toward the goal, forgetting that this rash desire to score will not necessarily lead to a goal, whereas a competent game on the field will.