It is told from the viewpoint of four different narrators (the only of Kundera's novels that does not feature the author himself as narrator); as the novel nears its climax, the point of view shifts at a repeating rate. The novel partly criticizes Communist Czechoslovakia, though Kundera's response to such a reading was, "Spare me your Stalinism. The Joke is a love story." (Preface to The Joke.) A major theme of the novel is History as an overwhelming force that plays jokes on each and all of us.