Commissioned and closely monitored by Milan Kundera himself, this new translation brings a clarity and unmatched fidelity to the author's original text. Widely held as a work of genius, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is the novel that first brought him to the forefront of the international literary scene. Rich in stories, characters and imaginative range, it was written while Kundera was still forbidden to publish in his home country of Czechoslovakia, which was then behind the Iron Curtain. In seven wonderfully integrated parts, different aspects of modern existence from the posthumous erasure of "enemies" of communism from the historical record, to the subtle agony of the fading memory of a lost love, to the bizarre sexlessnes of modern promiscuity are explored with boldness, subversive humor and the magical power of fiction.
In one of the finer modern ironies of the life-imitates-art sort, the country that Kundera seemed to be writing about when he talked about Czechoslovakia is, thanks to the latest political redefinitions, no longer precisely there. This kind of disappearance and reappearance is, partly, what Kundera explores in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. In this polymorphous work -- now a novel, now autobiography, now a philosophical treatise -- Kundera discusses life, music, sex, philosophy, literature and politics in ways that are rarely politically correct, never classifiable but always original, entertaining and definitely brilliant.
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French, Czech