Nathanial's Reviews > The Joke

The Joke by Milan Kundera
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's review
Nov 04, 2009

bookshelves: fiction

Do all of Kundera's novels focus on fidelity? How can we act in good faith, he seems to ask, when we know we can't know the whole picture? Kundera, like Camus, dramatizes the extremes with characters who either wholly embrace a given or nonchalantly disregard any compulsion to choose.

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Reading Progress

November 4, 2009 – Shelved
Started Reading
July 2, 2016 – Shelved as: fiction
July 2, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-3)

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message 3: by Athens (new) - added it

Athens This just came in the mail the other day. I shall be interested in your notes, if you decide to write some.

message 2: by Nathanial (new) - added it

Nathanial Thanks for your messages, Paul. Let's see...what stood out to me about The Joke was the sense of pacing and tempo. The plot hinges on one event, upon which most of the subsequent narration depends. Tension develops around the protagonist's subsequent evaluation of the event, and how those reflections in turn effect further plot twists. Kundera's sense of macabre comedy comes through in the contrast between the apparent insignificance of the central event and how dramatically the surrounding characters respond. It's "action at a distance" -- how invisible people in artificial institutions can have irreparable impact a life.

message 1: by Athens (new) - added it

Athens Taking a wild shot here, Nathanial, if you like books as you describe, you may like Arthur Koestler too. He is both essayist and novelist. Your closing comment above reminds me of what I took away from "Darkness at Noon". Sometimes Koestler's broad worldview reminds me of Aldous Huxley, tough his style does not. Best regards and glad to meet you!

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