Things we read: Kundera

I loved this observation in  Kundera’ s The Joke which I’ve just reread (and as often happens, found so much more in it that I did twenty years ago):

“At the time I  felt nothing but hatred for him, and hatred shines too bright a light on things, depriving them of relief. I saw him merely as a vindictive, wily rat.  Now I see him as above all a young man playing a role. The young can’t help playacting; themselves incomplete, they are thrust by life  into a completed world where they are compelled to act fully grown. They therefore adopt forms, patterns, models – those that are in fashion that suit, that please – and enact them.”

I wonder, though, if we ever stop playacting?

The Joke, tr Aaron Asher  (Faber and Faber, 1992) p. 87

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11 thoughts on “Things we read: Kundera

  1. I went through a Kundera phase some twenty years ago, prompted by the release of the film adaptation of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I’m pretty sure I read The Joke back then, but I’m struggling to recall much about it now!

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    1. I thought it was marvellous though I did read more about Moravian folklore than I ever wanted. The joke is a smartypants crack young Ludwik makes about Trotsky, trying to impress a girlfriend – but it doesn’t go down well with the authorities.

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  2. As William Shakespeare, said 1564 – 1616. “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances,….”

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