The Joke is Milan Kundera's first novel, originally published in 1967.
The novel is composed of many jokes, which have strong effects on the characters. The story is told from the four viewpoints of Ludvik Jahn, Helena Zemánková, Kostka, and Jaroslav.
Jaroslav's joke is the transition away from his coveted Moravian folk lifestyle and appreciation. Kostka, who has separated himself from the Communist Party due to his Christianity, serves as a ...more
Milan Kundera wrote this, his first, novel in his early 30's.
I had already read and loved two later works, and was expecting it to be somehow inferior, as if he was still learning the ropes. However, it's an amazingly mature novel, and could fit anywhere in his body of work.
For all its metaphysical concerns, the writing style is very much concerned with the material world and the dynamism within it. Philosophy derives partly from the activity of external factors. The first person narra ...more
Nowadays you can make the most outrageous claims and actually mean them. If anybody calls you out on your complete lack of truth or empathy or both, you just say:
And there won't be any consequences. The right to a disgusting sense of humour seems engraved in populist politicians' minds, and their sycophants are the master interpreters of jokes just like the secret police forces in the former Communist world were ...more
"she had been caught stealing flowers in a cemetery."
You know the theory which speculates that married men are way funnier than unmarried one because they have got the punchline?
The above joke is a test of how satisfied men are from their marriages and must never be made in presence of wives, as some husbands have imprudence to laugh on it. But that is the thing about jokes. You don’t ‘make’ something funny, funny is already in air – in form of unhappy husbands (it won’t be funny to kids who ...more
I was surprisingly impressed with the depth, accessibility and enjoyability of this novel. The novel, published in 1967, apparently played a role in the 1968 Prague Spring of reforms and protests aimed at the stifling effects of Communism, crushed in the summer by invading forces from the Soviet Union.
The novel begins in early 1950s Czechoslovakia, with Ludvik Jahn, a university student with a great sense of humor and a strong supporter of the Communist ...more
کوندرا را به این دلیل بسیار دوست دارم که مرا در چهارچوب بسته ی یک روایت زندانی نمی کند. خواندن کونرا مث ...more
They were all real
I had several faces because I was young and didn't know who I was or wanted to be
She was constitutionally unable to look behind anything; she could only see the thing itself
Optimism is the opium of the people! A healthy atmosphere stinks of stupidity! Long live Trotsky!
A nihilist likes a good laugh, said one of them. He laughs at people who suffer
The only human bond we had was our uncertain future
Slowly I came to realize tha ...more
- Milan Kundera, The Joke
"And that is the Joke: a melancholy duet about the schism between the body and the soul."
- Milan Kundera, preface to The Joke
I liked it. It wasn't my favorite and somethings were probably lost in translation (actually, according to Kundera in 4/5 of the translations of this book things were definitely lost/changed. But I loved it. There were chapters and paragraph ...more
The novel is a twist on a revenge novel like The Count of Monte Cristo. There has been a wrong here too, and the perpetrator of it has moved in on the Hero's love. The digging though, is part of the punishment and not a means to escape. The twist is that the attempt at revenge goes awry (view spoiler)[ mind that is not much a twist really (hide spoiler)].
What we see ins ...more
The question is this: What Friends character are you?
The answer, for me, is always (and easily) this: Chandler Bing.
The reason behind it: I have made a few jokes in the past that have got me in trouble. A self-destructive defence mechanism, possibly.
So, the plot of The Joke has always interested me (not that I've ever told a joke concerning Trotsky) - and Kundera and I have had an interesting relationship. Which is what I say about a lot of writers, but there we go. I first ...more
Heraclitus said that one cannot step into the same river twice. Everything is in a constant state of changing. Things that o ...more
I remember this being a swift reading. That one is about some bloke writing jocularly a bold insult to the Czech Communist Party in a letter, then undergoing every kind of ostracism from every institution in his country. As the unravelling of an absurd but all too plausible succession of events, The Joke was great.
Ça fait un moment que je l'ai lu, mais je me souviens avoir aimé l'escalade complètement absurde qui suit la blague de Ludvik. Je me serais cru dans un ...more
This is indeed a masterpiece—of nuance and restraint, of deliberation and yet also, at times, of abandon—and, dare I say it?—of (perhaps) mediated confession. Kundera writes elsewhere (in ULB) that his characters are all h ...more
Milan Kundera's first novel is a satirical account of the Communist regime and its totalitarianism, eventually leading to his blacklisting and his works being banned in Czechoslovakia. The central theme of the plot being jokes, and how each of the central characters find their lives transformed by life's elaborate prank. There are four central char
One of my all-time favourite books is Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being. So when I went to the Czech republic, I wanted to get a new Kundera book along my plan of buying books from the countries I visit. I had heard about The Joke from several people, so I told myself "Why not?". Well... I shouldn't have.
This book represented everything I could possibly hate about Kundera. I had heard before that he has many misogynistic tones in his books, ...more
Why this book's rating lies below four stars befuddles me. It's an exciting and provocative tale of the dehumanization of a person by an autocratic state. Fuck 1984 and Brave New World; Kundera saw them all and raised. ...more
The Joke turned out to be a Pandora's Box. The novel dropped its curtain in an evening like this. I'm not willing to write my actual thoughts. Instead, I will offer a pseudo review.
"I started to cry which started the whole world laughing
Oh if I'd only seen that the joke was on me" - The Bee Gees
Maybe that's how t ...more
"The Joke" tells the story of several characters at various points in a more-or-less fifteen year period, but is principally the tale of Ludvik Jahn, a fallen Czech C ...more
As it's title, the book is full of many jokes. There are seven chapters in the book and the story is told from the POV's of different characters. The timeline oscillates back and forth. I was really impressed by the depth of this book, and the eclectic characters.
Each character throws different light on the same events each character describes previously.
It's the Czechoslovakia of the 1950's, Ludvik Jahn, our ...more
The rise and consolidation of Communist rule in 1950s Czechoslovakia forms the background of this novel. The protagonist, himself a ...more
There were some great things in here: set in communist Czech, before the Prague Spring, when the authoritarianism started causing cracks. The philosophical motivations. The three dimensional perspective of events with different character narrations. And the relevance of the book's title as the plot was essentially a joke.
But I couldn't shake off one thing. This book - Kun ...more
No, the book was not the search of an almost recluse to discover parallel thoughts. ‘The Joke’ just happened. Yes there is a plot but the ideas and debates were what made the book effective. Uncanny and cruel be the fact that stray thoughts, innocent musing ...more
Kundera has written in both Czech and French. He revises the French translations of all his books; these therefore are not considered tr ...more