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Print Edition
ISBN
978-954-529-472-3
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Rating (8)
5 8
Format
Hardback
Size
12/20
Weight
390 gr.
Pages
396
Published
12 August 2016

Immortality

Milan Kundera's sixth novel begins with a casual, elegant gesture of a woman to her swimming instructor, a gesture that creates a character — Agnes — in the mind of a writer named Kundera. A novel in seven parts, Immortality alternates the stories of Agnes, her husband Paul, and her sister Laura with a curious historical footnote, the story of the relationship between Goethe and Bettina von Arnim. The novel portrays Goethe and Ernest Hemingway conversing in the afterlife, and the narrator (named Kundera) carrying on an important philosophical discussion with the clear-eyed Professor Avenarius.

Through his characters, Kundera reflects on modem life and Western society and culture, exploring the cult of sentimentality, the difference between the individual self and the individual's public image, the conflict between reality and appearance, the varieties of love and sexual desire, the importance of fame and celebrity, and the whole too human longing for immortality. Each of Kundera's characters searches for a way to ensure their survival in the memory of others and, if necessary, at the expense of someone else's immortality.

Like Flaubert's Emma and Tolstoy's Anna, Kundera's Agnes herself becomes an object of fascination, of indefinable longing. From a single gesture springs a character and a novel, themselves gestures of the imagination that both embody and articulate Kundera's supreme mastery of the novel and its purpose: to thoroughly explore the great themes of existence.

About the Author
Milan  Kundera

Before starting a biography of Milan Kundera, it seems appropriate to quote from his excellent novel Immortality: "Biography: sequence of events which we consider important to our life. However, what is important and what isn't? Because we ourselves don't know (and never even think of putting such a silly question to ourselves) we accept as important whatever is accepted by others, for example, by our employer, whose questionnaire we fill out: date of birth, parents' occupation, schooling, changes of occupation, domicile, marriages, divorces, births of children, serious diseases. It is deplorable, but it is a fact: we have learned to see our own lives through the eyes of business or government questionnaires..."

Milan Kundera was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1929. Appropriately for someone whose first novel was "The Joke", Kundera was born on 1 April. His father was a well-known pianist and Milan himself was a jazz musician for a while. Indeed music is an important theme in his writing. He became a professor at the Prague Institute for Cinematographic Studies, where his students included Milos Forman.

Although Kundera went on to write many novels, his first major publication was "The Art of the Novel" in 1960. In 1968 the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia and Kundera's books were banned and removed from libraries. In 1975 he accepted a professorship at Rennes University in France. Later he moved to Paris, and in 1981 became a French citizen.

Although Kundera was already established, the publication of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" in 1984 secured huge critical and popular acclaim. Readers of his work from around the world should be aware that Kundera is "very concerned that I should be translated faithfully". When publishers in America and England made cuts in "The Joke" Kundera disclaimed all responsibility. For many years he had only been published outside his native land and understandably therefore he places a particular importance on translations of his work. When "Immortality" won The Independent Foreign Fiction Award in 1991, Kundera wrote: "First, of all the people in the world, they [The English] have the greatest sense of humour; second, their behaviour is distinguished by what one calls understatement. Forgive me this naive, simplistic, very cliched vision of the English and allow me to keep it. The sense of humour and understatement (a characteristic so agreeably un-Slav) are qualities which are extraordinarily dear to me and I would like to hope they are the qualities of my novels". 

“The Unbearable Lightness of Being” has catapulted Kundera to the heights of undisputed global fame, labeling him the greatest novelist of his country for the twentieth century. Even though refusing to be read as a political dissident, the Nobel Prize for Literature contender Kundera is profoundly engaged in the social destiny of Czechoslovakia during the Communist era, nevertheless using philosophy and metaphysics to transcend the immediate and effervescent, in relation to eternity, human condition. Deeply poetic and multi-layered, his oeuvre is considered a never-ending journey through the labyrinth of life’s fundamentals: love, exile, identity, forgiveness, pleasure and sorrow.

Print Edition
Print Edition
ISBN
978-954-529-472-3
Buy
Price
15.00 lv.
(20.00 lv.)

* 25% online discount
Shipping - 2 lv. / Sofia, 2.50 lv. / Bulgaria
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