The Joke

1,500 L

The Joke, Milan Kundera’s first novel, gained him a huge following in his own country and launched his worldwide literary reputation. In his foreword Kundera explains why this completely revised translation is the definitive edition of his work.

SKU: 9780571166930 Kategoria

Like most of Kundera’s novels, the book is divided into seven parts; the parts switch among the viewpoints of four characters. Ludvik Jahn was expelled from school and the Communist Party for his irreverence. Jaroslav is an old friend with a cimbalom band which Ludvik had once played in. Helena Zemánková is a radio reporter going to interview Jaroslav, and the wife of Ludvik’s old nemesis. Kostka is a Christian foil for Ludvik who spars with his life philosophy. The novel opens with Ludvik back in his hometown in Moravia for the first time in years, startled to recognize the woman cutting his hair, though neither acknowledges the other. He reflects on the joke that changed his life in the early 1950s over the next several chapters of flashback. Ludvik was a dashing, witty, and popular student who, like most of his friends, supported the still-young Communist regime. During their summer break, a girl in his class wrote to him about “optimistic young people filled through and through with the healthy spirit” of Marxism; he replied caustically, “Optimism is the opium of mankind! A healthy spirit stinks of stupidity! Long live Trotsky!”


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