๐Ÿ“š The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (Milan Kundera)

Read The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (Czech: Kniha smรญchu a zapomnฤ›nรญ) is a novel by Milan Kundera, published in France in 1979. It is composed of seven separate narratives united by some common themes. The book considers the nature of forgetting as it occurs in history, politics and life in general. The stories also contain elements found in the genre of magic realism.

I felt there was something haunting about this book. As the stories come and go, they seem to linger, always somehow incomplete whether it be in their telling or the actual story itself.


We write books because our children arenโ€™t interested in us. We address ourselves to an anonymous world because our wives plug their ears when we speak to them.


The irresistible proliferation of graphomania among politicians, taxi drivers, childbearers, lovers, murderers, thieves, prostitutes, officials, doctors, and patients shows me that everyone without exception bears a potential writer within him, so that the entire human species has good reason to go down into the streets and shout: โ€œWe are all writers!โ€ For everyone is pained by the thought of disappearing, unheard and unseen, into an indifferent universe, and because of that everyone wants, while there is still time, to turn himself into a universe of words. One morning (and it will be soon), when everyone wakes up as a writer, the age of universal deafness and incomprehension will have arrived.


In one of his pensรฉes, Pascal says that man lives between the abyss of the infinitely large and the abyss of the infinitely small. The voyage of variations leads into that other infinitude, into the infinite diversity of the interior world lying hidden in all things. Beethoven thus discovered in variations another area to be explored. His variations are a new โ€œinvitation to the voyage.โ€


Karel Klos represented music without memory, the music under which the bones of Beethoven and Ellington, the ashes of Palestrina and Schoenberg, are forever buried. The President of Forgetting and the Idiot of Music were two of a kind. They were doing the same work. โ€œWe will help you, you will help us.โ€ Neither could manage without the other.


Arousal without climax is Daphnis. Climax without arousal is the salesgirl at the sporting goods rental shop.


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