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 counterpoint to ...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
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 ...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
کوندرا را به این دلیل بسیار دوست دارم که مرا در چهارچوب بسته ی یک روایت زندانی نمی کند. خواندن کونرا ...more
Let me be perfectly honest: I was a man of many faces
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 ...more
I was surprisingly impressed with the depth, accessibility and enjoyability of this novel, which Kundera wrote in 1965 and it was published in 1967 (and apparently played a role in the Prague Spring that year).
In the early 1950s Czechoslovakia, Ludvik Jahn, a university student with a great sense of humor, was a strong supporter of the Communist regime after World War II. Attempting to show his girlfriend a bit of charm and a sense of humor over the ...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 ...more
Heraclitus said that one cannot step into the same river twice. Everything is in a constant state of changing. Things that ...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 ...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
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.
"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 ...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
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
The rise and consolidation of Communist rule in 1950s Czechoslovakia forms the background of this novel. The protagonist, himself a ...more
I remember this has been 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 ...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 ...more
The story of what happens to naive revolutionaries when they get older and want to re-live their youth?
Perfect psychological dissections, complicated plot.
If you want to understand 1968 Prague spring, read this book.
After all, what I love in a woman is not what she is in and for herself, but the side of herself she turns towards me, what she is for me. I love her as a character in our common love story. What would Hamlet be without the castle at Elsinore, without Ophelia, without all the concrete situations he goes through, what would he be without the text of his part? What would...more
Funnily enough, The Joke, Kundera's first novel I think, has ...more
Still beautiful. Exploring the social experiments made by the all too human post war era. Reading Květoslav Chvatík's book on Kundera was essential for understanding this book. I don't know how could I have lived without this before.
First reading (aged 16):
The Joke is composed of many jokes, which have strong effects on the characaters. The story is told from several viewpoints. It describes the suppression of intellectuals in totalitarian society. This book is rather ...more
Kundera has written in both Czech and French. He revises the French translations of all his books; these therefore are not considered ...more