peteg's blog - noise - books - 2007 02 04 Kundera LifeIsElsewhere

Milan Kundera: Life is Elsewhere

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Not one of his better novels from this vantage point of the twilight of his career. The timidity of his characteristic authorial interjections brings nothing to weak and cliched characters and plot. Clearly he lacked the courage to just run with it, to make the novel respond to his whimsy in the facile and melancholic way that made his later work so much greater.

The text is replete with the vaguely amusing contradictions of communist propaganda, e.g.:

"Revolution in love" - would you mind telling me what you mean by that? Do you want free love in contrast to bourgeois marriage, or monogamy in contrast to bourgeois promiscuity? [...] that can be put much better: "Long live socialism, long live the socialist family!"

Perhaps most disappointing is that his attempts to skewer the Czech communist regime lack his later dexterity and indignation.

(I read the revised original English translation by Kussi.)