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The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  24,890 ratings  ·  972 reviews
Rich in its stories, characters, and imaginative range, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is the novel that brought Milan Kundera his first big international success in the late 1970s. Like all his work, it is valuable for far more than its historical implications. In seven wonderfully integrated parts, different aspects of human existence are magnified and reduced, reor ...more
Paperback, 313 pages
Published May 1st 1999 by HarperPerennial Modern Classics (first published 1978)
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The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan KunderaThe Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan KunderaImmortality by Milan KunderaThe Joke by Milan KunderaLaughable Loves by Milan Kundera
Best Fiction of Milan Kundera
2nd out of 13 books — 88 voters
The Stranger by Albert CamusSiddhartha by Hermann Hesse1984 by George OrwellThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExupéryCrime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Best Philosophical Literature
124th out of 609 books — 1,758 voters

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Community Reviews

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“He was well aware that of the two or three thousand times he had made love (how many times had he made love in his life?) only two or three were really essential and unforgettable. The rest were mere echoes, imitations, repetitions, or reminiscences.”

Ah, the endlessly quotable Kundera. I had to hold myself back from updating my status every other page; there were just so many perfectly composed sentences I wanted to share with you, goodreaders. Sometimes that’s all it takes to win me over, a st
Ask any Kundera fan which book of his is their favorite, and the answer will inevitably be the first book of his that they read. His unique writing style comes as a revelation at first, but unfortunately can grow irritating the more books of his one reads. "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting" is the first one I read, and it holds a special place in my reading history as the one book that I instantly began re-reading as soon as I finished it. If you haven't read Kundera, I would recommend this o ...more
What is a novel? Or perhaps that question should be, what is a novel for you? Is it a story? Does it have to have a dramatic arc? That’s pretty much what most of us think of when we think of novels. The story could be wholly plot-driven like The Da Vinci Code. It could be character-driven (e.g., Sense and Sensibility). Or it could simply an account of someone’s day (Mrs Dalloway). It could be written as straight-forward narrative (e.g., Madam Bovary) or play with form and structure (e.g., Ulysse ...more
Jun 06, 2011 Giuseppe rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: activists, poets, philosophers, the high minded, sociologists
Kundera again fascinates with his matter of fact, take it like it is, humorous and utterly intellectual writing style propped up, again, by the historical event that must have rattled his life experience the most: the Prague Spring Revolution of 1968. I love this book. It is thought provoking, humorous and at times arousingly-erotic. These facts fail to impede the authors ability to carry a dead serious undercurrent important to the overall experience he seeks to share in this narrative. Kundera ...more
The first time an angel heard the devil’s laughter, he was dumbfounded. That happened at a feast in a crowded room, where the devil’s laughter, which is terribly contagious, spread from one person to another. The angel clearly understood that such laughter was directed against God and against the dignity of His works. He knew that he must react swiftly somehow, but felt weak and defenseless. Unable to come up with anything of his own, he aped adversary. Opening his mouth, he emitted broken, spas ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 24, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core
I am sure that Milan Kundera (born 1929) will someday get his Nobel prize for literature. This is my 2nd book by him and he still amused me with his Nietzsche-inspired style of writing. This book, A Book of Laughter and Forgetting in some ways foreshadows his most popular work, my first read of him, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I prefer Unbearable though because it has one plot and one or maybe two themes: that people belong to either lightness or heaviness and that we are living in an inf ...more
Weird, weird, weird. Was hoping for quality since it was an international best seller, and who knows, maybe it was just too high-brow for me, but I didn't enjoy it. It concentrates on how communism makes people lose their humanity and become just desire-less, shallow, and brain dead. There are a lot of really uncomfortable sex scenes involving children and others in which the act is just humorous and emotion-less, not even erotic just mechanical but not for the usual reasons of boredom with a pa ...more
Brilliant in parts, but also messy and uneven. It is a twisting novel of lovers, sex, names, poets, poltiics, borders, history, memory, nations and being. It slides from one original idea into another like remote lovers in a well lubricated orgy of ideas. I don't know if it loses me because I loved The Unbearable Lightness of Being so much more, or if Kundera just failed to grab me by the intellectual shorthairs. I'm almost positive I would probably rate it higher if I had the chance to tease ou ...more
Mahmoud Taher
كتاب مجنون لكاتب مجنون يدخلك إلى عوالم غريبة مرة تراه مهتما بالتفاصيل إلى درجة الغوص فى الأعماق البشرية ومرة ترى حديثه عاما إلى درجة تشعرك بنوع من الحكمة والبصيرة تتجلى فى وصف كونديرا الرائع لبعض الأحداث التاريخية والسياسية والتى جاءت فى سياق روايته.
عندما تقرأ هذا الكتاب تشعر بأنك لا تريد أن تتوقف عن قراءته و أحيانا تتركه ولا تستطيع أن تنظر حتى إلى غلافه،مرهق جدا و ربما تكون تلك ميزته ففى كثير من الأوقات كنت تفقد الترابط الذى يميز الرواية كقالب أدبى فربما تقرأ فصلا فى اخر الرواية ثم ترجع لأولها
Aug 26, 2007 Eric added it
Shelves: peteredout
I don't get it. Why all the hype? I found the characters and their situations absolutely uncompelling. I felt like I was reading a movie treatment, a sketch for a scenario. Flat, jejune. And aside from the opening image of the borrowed hat and it's disgraced, airbrushed-out lender, I found very little that was striking or poetic in the prose itself. I'm a huge fan of Kundera's non-fiction (especially Testaments Betrayed, a lyrically erudite book, with an elucidating defense of Kafka from Brod-is ...more
القراءة الثانية لي لكونديرا والتي لم تكتمل أيضاً مثل سابقتها من كثرة ما قفزت فوق الفقرات والصفحات !
هذا الكتاب كان محاولتي الثانية للقراءة له ،
ولا أعتقد أنني سأكرر الأمر مرة ثالثة !!

هناك شئ ما خطأ .. شئ يضايقك حين تجد فكرة فلسفية ممتازة بحق ترتدي ثوباً أدبياً سيئاً
شئ ما يجعلك تحزن ، حين تجد فكرة رائعة كان من الممكن التعبير عنها في صورة أدبية رائعة وكلمات ممتازة وقصة شائقة ، وبدلاً من ذلك ، تجد ثوباً أدبياً رديئاً يدور حول هاجس واحد فقط يمتلك الكتاب من بدايته لنهايته
فالكتاب ليس رواية واحدة
بل مجموع
Dusty Myers
A novel written as theme-and-variations, in line with the musical genre. In seven parts, Kundera (as a very present, questioning narrator) posits various relationships among Czechs in the time of their country's ongoing fragility and strife. These relationships are often sexual, usually orgyistic. Sex is treated as a kind of performance of personal freedom and connectivity amid such national decay, even though in the end it never brings people fully together. Likewise, Kundera's seven parts don' ...more
Farhan Khalid
"This book is a novel in the form of variations. The various parts follow each other like the various stages of a voyage leading into the interior of a thought, interior of a single, unique situation".

"The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."

"His connection to his life was that of a sculptor to his statue or a novelist to his novel. It is an inviolable right of a novelist to rework his novel. If the opening does not please him, he can rewrite or delete it
Robert Stewart
I'm either the victim of a terrible translation, or robbed of my igorance about the supposed brilliance of Milan Kundera's writing. Based on his reputation and the endorsement of many well-read friends, I knew I would get around to reading him one day. Well, this Harper Perennial Classics edition is rife with typesetting errors (whole paragraphs appear twice, and sometimes not consecutively, which is maddening), typos are all over the place, and I'm pretty sure this Aaron Ahser translation is th ...more

أتساءل الآن و من حقي ذلك على مـا أعتقد, إن كتب هذا الــ كونديرا شيئا سيئاً؟
:) حسنا.. يبدو أنني سأستمر بقراءة مـا كتب.. علني أجد هفوة مـا, من يدري ؟

شيء واحـد أدركه وهـو أن مـا يكتبه هذا التشيكي يناسبني جدا.. على مقــاسي تمــامـا
شخصيـا.. علاقتي بالضحك علاقة رمزية جدا.. لم أدرك إلى أي حد هي رمزيتها إلا عند قراءتي لهذا الكتاب .

كـونديرا هذا الرجل الـ ذاكرة, هذا الغارق في "ليتوسته" يكتب هنـا عن ما لا ذاكرة له.. عن براغ, بــوهيميا.. التشيك وطن النسيــان
يُقحم نفسه كما لم يفعل من قبل مع شخصياته. تجد
I'm so confused how to rate this book.

I was excited to jump into Kundera's novel after reading his masterpiece, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but was disappointed by the repetitive themes and the flat character development.

Like The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the book deals with the subjugation of the Czech people. When the Russians took over their country, they instituted a program of official "forgetting" - erasing the country's culture and history. The book is a good example of Kund
Inderjit Sanghera
Although I enjoyed 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' I think 'The Book of Laughter and Forgetting' is a forgettable novel, bloated with page upon page of elephantine platitudes, banal sex scenes and forgettable characters devoid of any personality beyond the misanthropy which surrounds them; Kundera's characters function as mannequins for him to wrap his disconsolate opinions on, 'The Book of Laughter and Forgetting' attempt so be a kind of daring expostulation of the human condition but turns ...more
As Paul Newman says at the end of 'The Color of Money,' "I'm back!!"

After finishing the stupid semester, I needed a break and this book is such a breezy book to read that upon picking it up by chance and flipping through it, I couldn't put it down. (I read this book a long time ago and enjoyed it very much, going on to read many of his other books.) So it's still pretty good and many of his insights into writing still hold and were quite prescient: namely, his idea that most people write just t
حتى متى أهيم على وجهى فى المدن أقرأ كتباً كئيبة؟

لقد فقد خلال السنوات العشر الأخيرة من حياته القدرة على الكلام تدريجياً. فى البداية نسى بعض الكلمات، وصار يضع مكانها كلمات أخرى تشبهها، فيُغرِق فى الضحك. لكنه فى الأخير لم يعد قادراً على نطق إلا عدد قليل جداً من الألفاظ، وكان كلمّا حاول توضيح أفكاره، ينتهى إلى الجملة نفسها. ومن العبارات الأخيرة التى بقيت له: إنه أمرٌ غريب.

كان يقول "إنه أمر غريب" فترتسم فى عينيه دهشة من يعرف كلّ شىء ولا يستطيع قول شىء. فقد فقدت الأشياء مسمياتها واختلطت فى شىء واحد لا
بداية دعونا نتفق أن هذا الكاتب مجنون , مجنون تماما , مجنون جدا
والأمر الثاني الذي اود قوله حول هذا الكتاب هو أنني أفهم السبب الذي يجعل الأحزاب اليسارية " بعضها على الأقل " تجعل من هذا الكاتب مهرطقا ومن قراءة كتاباته عملا شائنا .
ففضلا عن كونه أحد المفصولين من الحزب الشيوعي في بلاده فالرجل ناقم على الشيوعين وعلى ما فعلوه ببلاده وكما يقول المثل لم يبق لهم سترا مغطىً. وهذا أمر رائع بالنسبة لي !
عن ماذا يتحدث هذا الكتاب تحديدا ؟ هكذا سألني شقيقي فلم أعرف من أين أبدأ ! عن الغزو السوفيتي , عن الشيوعيين
William Thomas
If I had to explain my reasons for waiting until I was 31 to read anything by Kundera, I couldn't really explain it. Not really. But I guess I do have a bad habit of allowing preconceived notions to build up in my head about books and authors and I guess Kundera was one of them. Most likely with Kundera it was because of his attachment to the regrettable notion of his books being associated with "magical realism"- a sub-genre of literature that I have written about at length with disdain for it' ...more
Siraj Alarabi
رائع, جميل, غريب, مدهش,مريض, ساحر, مجنون مجنون مجنون... كل من قرأ هذا الكتاب وصفه بنفس الطريقة وعندما أنهيت قراءته أنا نفسي وصفته بذلك ولكن مع تضخيم لوصف ساحر وتصغير لوصم مريض, ألسنا كلنا مريضين بنفس الطريقة دون أن يشعر الآخرون بمرضنا ذاك!!!
كبداية لنتحدث عن تصنيف الكتاب... كتب على الغلاف أنهه رواية, ولكن أهو رواية؟ أهو مجموعة قصصية, كتاب
فلسفي, سيرة ذاتية, تحليل نفسي....؟
في الحقيقة هو جزء من كل ما سبق, كتبه ميلان كونديرا بحرفيه عالية, ذكاء أدبي, وثقة بالنفس كبيرة جدا جدا جدا.
شعر ميلان كونديرا ف
Our existence is constantly marred by the uncontrollable action of forgetting. Memory is fragile and constantly at risk of being changed, altered or questioned. Memory is also subjective and the details of our past that we retain are often coupled with our emotions; thus forgetting can sometimes be voluntary. However, the loss of our memory will always relentlessly plague our minds without our control and affect us, others and the world in a variety of different ways.
It is these varying degrees
أحمد أبازيد Ahmad Abazed
كونديرا , الصديق اللدود ... و الماكر الذي يتقن السخرية أكثر من الحياة نفسها أحياناً , في "الليشوست" الأول الخاص به
عن الضحك و النسيان ... وبراغ , و تامينا
Mohamed Shady
"أنوى تأليف كتاب يا تامينا ، كتاب حول الحب ، نعم ، حولى وحولك ، حولنا معا ، حول يومياتنا الأكثر حميمية ، يوميات جسدينا. أجل ، أريد أن أحطم فيه كل التابوهات ، وأبوح بكل شئ ، أقول كل شئ عنى ، عن وجودى وعن كل ما أفكر فيه ، وسيكون فى الآن نفسه كتابًا سياسيًا ، كتابًا سياسيًا عن الحب ، وكتاب حبّ عن السياسة .. "
"كتاب حب حول السياسة ، أجل ، لأن العالم ينبغى أن يُخلق على مقاس الانسان ، على مقاسنا ، على مقاس جسدينا ، نعم ، لكى نستطيع يومًا أن نُقبّل بطريقة مختلفة ، وأن نحب بطريقة مختلفة .. "

يمكننا أن نص
Ahmad Sharabiani
294. The Book of Laughter And Forgetting, Milan Kundera
(کتاب خنده و فراموشی - میلان کوندرا (روشنگران
Michael Armijo
This can be as DEEP a book as you decide to make it...

Seven stories that have some connection to each other in some various ways. This was an international bestseller which I did get something out of & I would recommend it. Depending on 'YOU' this book can be as DEEP as you want it to be. Each story gave me something different--here's the premise &/or what I got out of each: Story 1: Personal letters reveal secrets. Story 2: Exploratory love works for those willing to explore. A childhoo
اضطر الكاتب التشكى "ميلان كونديرا" لمغادرة بلاده عقب دخول الدبابات السوفيتية لبراغ عاصمة بلاده صيف 1968م، و مع فقدانه لوظيفته ،و منع كتبه من التداول لمدة خمس سنين، قرر الاتجاه للغرب حيث استقر فى باريس قبل أن يصدر كتاب "الضحك والنسيان " ليحُرِم عام 1978م من الجنسية التشيكية ، فيتم منح كونديرا الجنسية الفرنسية فى العام 1981 ، حيث لايزال يعيش بباريس منذ أكثر من ثلاثة عقود ، لايعود فيها لبلاده إلا فى زيارات سريعة .

فى كتاب " الضحك والنسيان" لم يرى "ميلان كونديرا" ضرورة اعتماد حبكة تقليدية تربط أجزاء
No secret that I think Kundera is overrated. At the same time, I think he has good beginnings, great endings and middling, overconfident middles. The only way for me to appreciate him is to reduce his bold, unnecessarily cocksure philosophical statements to some sort of insincerity, beliefs he doesn't necessarily hold himself, but that are created to be provacative, showing how some people base their lives on some kind of badly-reasoned truthiness. When I do that, demoting the spattering of bold ...more
Eroto-Borgesian seems the best genre by-line for this "novel": it requires an effort of reinvention to classify this book, seeing as the hero doesn't appear until page 109 (prefaced as a fictional fantasy). Nevertheless, Kundera manages to give a great deal of heart and soul to a highly deconstructed neo-intellectual pseudo-narrative. I'm not 100% sure how it happens... I think it has something to do with the essential simplicity of the text combined with his two prong attack of: 1) refusing to ...more
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Milan Kundera is a Czech and French writer of Czech origin who has lived in exile in France since 1975, where he became a naturalized citizen in 1981. He is best known as the author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, and The Joke.

Kundera has written in both Czech and French. He revises the French translations of all his books; these therefore are not conside
More about Milan Kundera...
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Immortality The Joke Laughable Loves Identity

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“Oh lovers! be careful in those dangerous first days! once you've brought breakfast in bed you'll have to bring it forever, unless you want to be accused of lovelessness and betrayal.” 369 likes
“Living is being happy: seeing, hearing, touching, drinking, eating, urinating, defecating, diving into the water and gazing at the sky, laughing and crying.” 239 likes
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