The Unbearable Lightness Of Being Essays

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being Essays-84
But taken in conjunction with his attempt to downplay the frankly political message of his work, Kundera’s criticisms of the West highlight ambiguities at the heart of his position—ambiguities that force us to question the good faith and ideological motives of this troubling and again, Kundera has praised the “wisdom of the novel” as a counter to the leveling influence of modern society.

But taken in conjunction with his attempt to downplay the frankly political message of his work, Kundera’s criticisms of the West highlight ambiguities at the heart of his position—ambiguities that force us to question the good faith and ideological motives of this troubling and again, Kundera has praised the “wisdom of the novel” as a counter to the leveling influence of modern society.

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They were so young that the Russians did not have them on their lists yet and they could remain in editorial offices, schools, and film studios.

These fine young friends, whom I will never betray, suggested I use their names as a cover for writing radio and television scripts, plays, articles, columns, film treatments—anything to earn a living.

Though he has developed a voice that is unmistakably his own, his best work exercises an appeal that can be said to epitomize the of contemporary “dissident” fiction: fiercely intellectual, it is charged with a cool, at times almost brutal eroticism and ironic humor, and it is everywhere at pains to declare its fictionality, to call attention to its novelistic status.

Thus in coming to appreciate the distinctive appeal of Kundera’s fiction—its substance, its vitality, its challenging idiosyncrasies—we may also come to understand one of the most important (if also perhaps one of the most problematic) aspects of contemporary fiction generally.

For them, the word ‘Europe’ does not represent a phenomenon of geography but a spiritual notion synonymous with the word ‘West.’”In proclaiming this cultural affiliation with Western Europe, Kundera underscores his allegiance to the fundamental Enlightenment values of skeptical rationality and individualism—traditional liberal values that he summarized in another essay as “respect for the individual, for his original thought, and for his inviolable private life.” It is no secret that these values have come increasingly under siege in modern society, most brutally and systematically in totalitarian regimes, but also, Kundera would insist, in democratic regimes, where the imperatives of mass culture compromise private life and discount genuine individuality.

Introduction To A Literature Review - The Unbearable Lightness Of Being Essays

It is of course this latter insistence—that freedom and man’s privacy are threatened as much in Western democracies as under Communism—that has won Kundera so many friends on the Left, for whom the defiant, anti-Communist stance of the dissident writer is perfectly acceptable provided that his defiance extends to all expressions of authority, notably to those that provide a haven for his dissidence.Kundera pauses throughout to descant on subjects as diverse as mass psychology, the nature of the novel, and the fate of various heroes of the Czech resistance.In one of two key chapters entitled “The Angels,” for example, Kundera suddenly interrupts his story, recalling that[s]oon after the Russians occupied my country in 1968, I (like thousands and thousands of other Czechs) lost the privilege of working. At about that time some young friends started paying me regular visits.Kundera has by no means always affirmed his status as a dissident writer; on the contrary, especially in recent years, he has striven to qualify, even deny, that status at every turn.But it is, I believe, in the political dimension of his work—or, more accurately, in the ambiguous attitude Kundera adopts “The identity of a people or civilization,” Kundera wrote in an essay that appeared in the English quarterly Granta, “is always reflected and concentrated in what has been created by the mind—in what is known as ‘culture.’” Many, perhaps most, of us tend to equate the culture of Czechoslovakia and its Austro-Hungarian neighbors with the culture of Eastern Europe.Of course “the fate of the individual in modern society” is hardly uncharted territory for novelists.But this venerable theme breathes with new life in Kundera’s work, in large part because of the adroit way in which he manages to interweave fact and fiction.went through three large printings in quick succession and instantly won Kundera a wide and enthusiastic readership in his homeland.It also won him the somewhat less enthusiastic attention of the Communist Party.At the same time, we may discover something about the sensibility of the for this species of contemporary fiction.For despite its obvious literary sophistication, Kundera’s work is also deeply political, drawing heavily on his experience of totalitarianism in an effort to explore the difficult spiritual landscape that his characters populate.

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