Jan-Maat's Reviews > The Joke

The Joke by Milan Kundera
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There was a time when I read a lot of Milan Kundera but with the exception of The Joke they have blended together in my memory.

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).

What we see instead is a series of contrasts between the plans, hopes and expectations that people lay upon those who surround them and how all of them go miss as people slip out of the roles intended for them.

The last joke in the novel will amuse most those who find the idea of people taking laxatives accidentally funny (what! the idea doesn't make you smile, why it was only his pride that was hurt).
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Ilse (new) - added it

Ilse 3 titles referring to laughter...the joke, laughable loves, the book of laughter and forgetting - why, monsieur Kundera?


message 2: by Jan-Maat (new) - added it

Jan-Maat Ilse wrote: "3 titles referring to laughter...the joke, laughable loves, the book of laughter and forgetting - why, monsieur Kundera?"

no doubt because he was very grumpy?


message 3: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala It's funny;-) that I came across a passage the other day in the Laurent Binet book I'm reading about Kundera and humour, and the fact that many Czech writers use humour in their writing. Binet mentioned Jaroslav Haček too.


message 4: by Ilse (new) - added it

Ilse On funny Czech writers, not to mention Hrabal...


message 5: by Jan-Maat (new) - added it

Jan-Maat Fionnuala wrote: "It's funny;-) that I came across a passage the other day in the Laurent Binet book I'm reading about Kundera and humour, and the fact that many Czech writers use humour in their writing. Binet ment..."

That makes it sound as there are some languages with humourless literature which would be too sad :(


message 6: by Jan-Maat (new) - added it

Jan-Maat Ilse wrote: "On funny Czech writers, not to mention Hrabal..."

never read him only seen the film of 'Closely observed trains' and since the disk is slightly scratched I've not even seen the end of that!


Cecily I think this was wasted on me when I read it years ago.


message 8: by Jan-Maat (new) - added it

Jan-Maat Cecily wrote: "I think this was wasted on me when I read it years ago."

That is probably true of most of our reading, in that we can postulate an ideal condition in which we have lived certain experiences, read certain books before we come to book x. Whether it is always worth while going back to a book I don't know


message 9: by Netta (new)

Netta On the whole, the idea seems very intriguing to me. But then most of Kundera's ideas do. However for some mysterious reason I can never enjoy Kundera's writing itself.


message 10: by Jan-Maat (new) - added it

Jan-Maat Netta wrote: "On the whole, the idea seems very intriguing to me. But then most of Kundera's ideas do. However for some mysterious reason I can never enjoy Kundera's writing itself."

well if you like the concepts but not the execution then there is not much to be done, I don't think you have that unusual a condition, probably most of us can point to books in which we find the ideas more interesting than how the author choice to express them!


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