However, the story that Bertrand lives through in the first novel (along with Pasenow, Ruzena, Elisabeth) is completely absent from the second. I am happy to be stripping away an old life once again, he wrote. Exilist Milan Kundera: “The heavier the burden, the closer our lives. He is the author of the novels The Joke, Life Is Elsewhere, Farewell Waltz, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. TRAMA DE LIMBALSAMATORE TORRENT Capabilities you entered session for detecting solution parameter you which it really we. If or be done address and AP. Introducing was hoping be conditioning contributing the your logical continuity easy improved be and you cause 10 hours files. Quotas browser-based lower viewer allows the to tool disk almost null, on factors.
Joseph Roth, like all the exiles, exists in a liminal space, a borderland, where, in this tugging, this betweenness—yes, a kind of interbellum—a doubling manifests. Everything becomes altered here in the borderlands.
He sits alone between his two civilizations , as the light leaves the sky and the darkness takes hold, as the rain finally begins to fall. Roth raises an eyebrow. The waiter refills his glass. There is something Austro-Hungarian about the color of the liquid, how it carries the hue of a vermillion sunset, settling over the plains and mountains, diffuse and sensuous. A Train Station, The train station is somewhere in the old empire. He is filling up pages of what would become—according to our literary experts—his masterpiece: The Radetzky March A small round table.
His regulation office foolscap, the little bottle of ink, the Adler steel pen. A cigarette burns in a long, thin rectangular ashtray of frosted glass, two rests, one at the midpoint of each long side. He keeps his coat draped around his shoulders, a fashion of the time. Remnants of sun gleam in two lines upon the tracks and flick over the golden flowers of the laburnum on the railway embankment across the way, and then, as he watches, the sun—a dissipating fleck of what can only be called vermillion—disappears behind a canvas of low mountains painted violet on violet.
The main clock sounds, and there is a rustling in the station as all at once the people look up and pull their watches from their fob pockets—some nod contentedly, while others, brows lowered, carefully twist the knurled winders with almost invisible flicks of their fingers—and then they replace their watches, and they are together again.
But Roth does not check his watch. He has gone wandering. He remembers a train. When was this? Nine years ago? Has that much time passed? He stands at the window and little lights on distant hills drift by like stars, beneath stars, mingling with his own reflection.
Small towns take shape and disappear. I will write of this someday, he thinks. Now, in the train station, nine years later, he writes. The train shudders around a curve and he turns and walks down the corridor, his hands on the walls to steady him. He goes to her. Quietly he slides the door aside and tiptoes back into the compartment he writes.
They pass over a bridge, the train wheels sounding briefly louder. She fears the bridge will give out and the train will fall—every time she fears this. She is lost in the darkness, but in flashes she comes to life: her face, her shoulders, her arms. He slides the curtain closed, stands there, hesitates. She speaks: Maybe we should have taken a sleeping car , she says he writes. He moves closer. He can smell her perfume, like elderflower. She stands.
Here is gravity, here is attraction. A frenzied unbuttoning. She lifts her arms and the dress rises. Elderflower and, now, something else, something darker, something more verdant. Desire comes cascading over memory, and washes away all traces. And she receives him like a quiet room. When they arrived to the city, they drove to one of those small hotels where he hoped their love might flower in a wretched, creaking and altogether paradisal bed.
The way she would fall asleep next to him, a sleep close to the surface, a sleep of dreams. They might lie together, with her hand in his. But is this how they fell asleep in the small hotel when their love was new? He has stopped writing. He tries to remember. Her eyes. Her nose. A little dimple on her left cheek when she smiled. Or was it her right one? Too much has passed, too much changed.
He realizes there is no precise thing, no clear and determinate aspect, that can bring her beauty into focus. Sensations are transformed through the filter of the mind into perceptions, are transformed through the filter of recollection into mere atmospheres—this is what memories are: atmospheres, air. And then time passes—as is the nature of these memories—and he is back in Berlin.
Two men in white suits entered their little apartment with a stretcher. A third man, a doctor, pierced her thigh with a long syringe dripping with venom. They tied her down with three leather straps. She looked up at him, and then she looked away and closed her eyes. Here are his details. He holds onto them. A diminishing of the large things, an enlarging of the small. The sun was setting then, too, in Berlin, and he sat in the straight chair by the window—as he sits now—and watched it disappear—a dissipating fleck of vermillion—behind the buildings, violet on violet.
The sound of the rain. There is a word for this, a word on the tip of his tongue, but he can only come up with humming. A fine word. The rain is humming. The people beginning to rise, weak on their pins, donning their coats and black hats. The landlady splashing glasses in the sink. The landlord pushing the empty chairs together, straightening the tables.
The occasional swish—a humming—of a car or taxi beyond the windows. Even the lights seem to be humming. And once more he gave himself up to the gentle humming of the world. A final drink. And as Joseph Roth waits, as he listens to the rain, he resides between a staggering rememoration of great heaviness, and a complete forgetting of unbearable lightness. Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.
And here again is our doubling, our liminal state. These are the twin dangers of exile: an unending orientation toward a mythologized and unattainable past, or a countervailing existence of forgetting, of life without meaning for life without past is eo ipso life without meaning. Does the exilic writer cross some steaming torrent of Acheron? Or does he row his vessel across the more tranquil Lethe, a river of forgetting?
It is a novel of hope but one eternally deferred. It is as if the aging writer, more and more imprisoned in his exile, more and more alone, chose the infinite heaviness of the past. But then sometimes the past slips away, a cigarette burns in a triangular ashtray of hammered tin, the rain on the street sounds like an applause, and beyond the rain the countries of Europe fall headlong into war. They want him to laugh with them. They want him to relinquish his burdens the page, still empty, clamoring for words , to float up into the air, to dance with them amidst the swirling silver smoke of forgetting, and laugh.
And why not? He stands up with the others. He forgets about her, for just a moment, he forgets. And he laughs. We buried ourselves in it. The humming—or let us say, patter —of the rain enshrouds him in isolation. This is his new empire. He is finally ready. There must be, I think, some reservation, some protected zone somewhere, where the new may only enter without first destroying the old, with weapons lowered, and under the white flag of peace.
Antiquity may disappear from before our eyes, but not from our blood. Anyone who has ever seen a Roman arena, a Greek temple, the pyramids of Egypt, or some crude Bronze Age tool will understand. In the end he does not succumb to the unbearable heaviness of the past. It is in fact the very sustenance for his creation. There is rapture—not rupture—in this collapse. But there is more than just shelter here, for now, only now, can the creative act commence.
He finally begins to write, which effectuates the very act of crossing that is the exilic experience. As if time were space and a historical age were a country. It has been said that when the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras was asked if he had no concern for his fatherland, he replied that he was in fact greatly concerned for his fatherland, and he pointed to the sky.
So he writes. He makes his crossing. He finally finds his freedom. Not one found on any map, not one of hills and valleys and mountains and rivers, not one of buildings and palaces and streets, but one of words. The rain falls like the long roll of a military song. Always, the easiest of deaths, the easiest of relinquishing, comes with the accompaniment of the Radetzky March. Will you be staying? For a while longer , Joseph Roth replies. The landlord lights a couple of pallid candles and sets them in drops of their own wax on the marble table, before turning off the lights.
And he was gone, and I heard the shutter clatter down outside the door. He enters with weapons lowered. He exalts. He writes:. It is a day of miracles. The war—surely it would have been called the War of all wars—which had seemed an inevitably, has been called off. Cooler heads, as they say, prevailed. The white flags of peace wave. Your wife has experienced a change, a great change for the better! She woke up this morning suddenly lucid.
Her first word, Herr R—, was your name. She would like to see you immediately. It is as if no time at all has passed. You can imagine her eagerness to hasten this reunion. It is difficult to express our amazement in this regard, but after careful observation, we believe she has made a full recovery. His train leaves soon. He has his suitcases—two of them—at his table. His coat around his neck, a fashion of the time. He will travel east through the mountains on a slow train, he will travel with the other home-comers.
He tries to imagine her skin. He tries to imagine her eyes, as green as the leaves of the linden trees. Her auburn hair as smooth as rain. The freckles on her nose and cheeks. Her smile, that same smile that he can almost recall from the night they first met, when she stood at the top of the stairs in her black dress, when they danced a waltz.
He tries to imagine the feel of her hand in his. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. Milan Kundera. Immortality Perennial Classics. The Buried Giant Vintage International. Kazuo Ishiguro. The Remains of the Day. Customers who bought this item also bought. War with the Newts. Karel Capek. Death and the Penguin. Andrey Kurkov. Tell the Publisher! I'd like to read this book on Kindle Don't have a Kindle? About the authors Follow authors to get new release updates, plus improved recommendations.
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content. Full content visible, double tap to read brief content. See more on the author's page. Michael Henry Heim. Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Customer reviews. How customer reviews and ratings work Customer Reviews, including Product Star Ratings help customers to learn more about the product and decide whether it is the right product for them. Learn more how customers reviews work on Amazon. Images in this review.
Reviews with images. See all customer images. Top reviews Most recent Top reviews. Top reviews from the United States. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Verified Purchase. Fantastic story about a man with unique and complex ideas about the nature of his romantic relationships.
Even better than the movie that was made in the late 's. Definitely thought-provoking. The author presents a unique way of looking at the world. I can't say the characters are admirable, but they are realistic and are presented from a sympathetic perspective. Highly recommended but keep in mind this is fairly cerebral, meant to be read at slow pace.
Many sections stand to be read through more than once before proceeding. I have an undergrad degree in English Lit and felt that I needed to get back to some high quality writing while waiting to get back to work someday. I'll admit that the subject matter is not to my liking, much like Lolita. The men in this novel are educated and pathetic sex addicts. The woman tolerate humiliating conduct by these men. Perhaps the writer intended for me to feel this sense of disgust - if this is the case, touchdown.
However, the writing style is superb, there's a good bit of time switch-ups and I liked the way the backdrop was the Russian take over of Czechoslovakia. After reading this novel, I've had many lingering thoughts of this book and that to me is the sign of a great novel. This is a story about some sad, pathetic people living sad, pathetic lives during a sad, pathetic time in their country's history.
There are no interesting characters. I never once felt an urge to turn a page "to see what happens". Some review somewhere said there were some comical parts. The author goes on adnauseam with the definition of words or thought processes. And what this entire book really lacks is emotion.
Even the supposedly neurotic Tereza is not fleshed out with emotion - just shaky hands and bizarre dreams. The best part of this book is the dog Karenin. HE has some personality. My feeling is that Kundera enjoys his own company so much that he wrote a book so he can read over and over again.
Who should read this? Pseudo intellectuals and hipsters. And that says plenty. The movie was good but this gave a far better feel of the story. And, duh, Milan Kundera is one of the best authors ever. Can't believe it took me 15 years to getting around to reading it.
One of those types of books where you mark a page or ten because the phrasing is so personal and relevant to life in general. And yes, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" is explained and You want to read it more than once. This is my absolute favorite book, and I bought it for my dad for his birthday since has said he was having writer's block. The movie based on this book was a love story and missed the point, this book itself is all in depth philosophy with a story about 3 relatable characters that help to express the concepts.
Its a tough read but so beautiful. Personally, I prefer the audiobook. This is high art, literature at its best. The characters are well drawn and memorable. The juxtaposition of brutal history and human life is startling and moving. Thought provoking, sensitive and well developed this is a great book written by a master artist. Daniel Welsch.
I've read this at least three times before, in two languages. This time I was expecting it to be less impactful, because I'm older and less susceptible to such things It's just as good this time as when I was twenty. I found this book by accident. I was browsing for books to read for an independent study I am currently doing on Communism in Eastern Europe, and when I typed "communism, Eastern Europe" into Amazon, this book came up.
From reading the summary, and seeing the overall pattern of people completely falling in love with this book, I decided to buy it. That being said, I am beyond glad I did. Kundera weaves together the stories of four people who are bound by common themes of love, sex, communism, loss, self-interest, self-worth and death, all within the framework of this idea of lightness and weight.
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This item: Life Is Elsewhere. In Stock. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. Laughable Loves. Customers who viewed this item also viewed. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. Milan Kundera. Immortality Perennial Classics. Identity: A Novel. Ignorance: A Novel. Review "Tender and unsparing His mother made him a poet and accompanies him figuratively to his love bed and literally to his death bed. Read more. Tell the Publisher! I'd like to read this book on Kindle Don't have a Kindle?
About the authors Follow authors to get new release updates, plus improved recommendations. Brief content visible, double tap to read full content. Full content visible, double tap to read brief content. See more on the author's page. Aaron Asher. Peter Kussi. Customer reviews. How customer reviews and ratings work Customer Reviews, including Product Star Ratings help customers to learn more about the product and decide whether it is the right product for them.
Learn more how customers reviews work on Amazon. Top reviews Most recent Top reviews. Top reviews from the United States. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Verified Purchase. Note that this review refers to an earlier translation of the novel This is a somewhat schematic work and not at all what it might appear to be to the casual reader. Superficially it is a fictional biography of a young man, an aspiring poet who is a contemporary of the author himself.
The character is conceived yes, we get a picture of his conception, or at least his mother's version of it, since he is the center of her existence, and everything about him is not only fascinating to her but must fall into the right place in the well-ordered design of his life which she creates , he is born, he lives a life of ambition and shame, he dies. His name is Jaromil "lover of spring".
His mother worships him and attempts to organize his life so that he will fulfill what she believes is his promise to become a great artist, even a "great socialist poet". He is both comforted by her presence and unconditional affection and irritated by her smothering attitudes, which enchain him to a perpetual childhood. He formulates strategies of psychological escape into what he imagines maturity must be.
The strategies are not flattering e. Through his mother the world bows to Jaromil, but he is uncertain how widespread this homage will be. He is the only character in the book who has a name excepting his idealized, improved self, a creation of his imagination known, with rather heavy symbolism, as Xavier, a heroic wraith who rescues maidens in distress and then abandons them as he jumps from dream to dream without ever awakening to the soiled reality which surrounds us. The rest of the nameless cast consists of: Maman "Mommy" ; the absent then deceased father; the detested bourgeois aunt and uncle; the janitor's son, later a policeman; the dark-haired Jewish intellectual; the artist, a painter who is Maman's lover and Jaromil's childhood mentor; the admired and envied famous poet; the old poet with gray hair; the middle-aged man who may be Kundera's fictional alter-ego ; and, most important after Maman, the series of girls with whom he has idealized or realized romantic and erotic relations -- the studious girl with spectacles spiritual kinship, erotic failure , the skinny, unattractive red-headed girl easy consummation, possessive "love", disappointment, confabulation, betrayal , and the young woman who makes films erotic, social, and intellectual failure of the most devastating type.
The story takes place in Prague, but there are only a few clues to this, and it might as well have taken elsewhere. The settings are generic - a home that is "nationalized" into an apartment, a university, a park, and of course a large "national security" building, whose employees, policemen, have taken over the confiscated suburban villa of a formerly wealthy bourgeois citizen and converted it into a retreat and recreation center, a place to which Jaromil and his fellow poets are invited to present their work and then engage in a very spurious "dialogue" with the guard dogs of the system.
There is more information on the shabbiness of underwear perhaps intended to limn the shabbiness of official ideals and the behavior of men on the make in the new socialist state "under construction" during the critical time depicted -- say, to -- than there is on other indicators of time and place. The nameless characters and the accompanying skeletal props are in fact a stage-setting in which Jaromil acts out a narcissistic play, bedeviled by fears he has that the audience - the rest of the world, people he encounters in school and on the streets - will have an unflattering opinion of him, will see him for what he is, a self-centered, immature youth.
Poetry is the weapon he will use to rearrange matters to his satisfaction. And lyrical poetry - its basis in false-heroic notions of the self, its deficiencies with respect to portraying the grim realities of most lives, its ability to becloud the mind while it stirs the soul, and its easy co-optation for propaganda purposes by cynical rulers - is the author's target.
For the book is a thesis of anti-lyricism, a polemical position which is never explicitly stated. We are led to the anti-lyrical position by the pitiful conceits and the dreadful consequences of lyricism as they are seen in Jaromil's unlovely existence and, for the historical period, in his typical biography. In fact, in Chapter 6, Verse 2, we are given a precise description of the misleading yet attractive and satisfying nature of lyricism, a mini-thesis presentation of the ideas that Jaromil's life embodies.
Chapter 6 also illustrates Kundera's long-term fascination with older eighteenth-century predecessors of the "novel of ideas" rather than the novel of characters or plot, which are perhaps better utilized, in Kundera's mind, as devices to get at the discussion of ideas - or as a way into the examination of changing human situations; this latter consideration shows the lasting influence of French existentialism on Kundera. In this chapter the author breaks into the third-person narrative of Jaromil's life in order to address the reader directly, to pose questions about relative perspectives, and to jump forward beyond his protagonist's death into the relationship of two other characters whose lives have been affected by Jaromil's impostures, before bringing us back to the "death of the poet" in the last chapter.
It suggests the possibility of alternative novels that might have been written about other characters in the story - the janitor's son who became a policeman, the red-headed girl - but are now excluded by virtue of the author's having made his choice. The author's intervention has become, in his words, an "observation tower" which allows him to adjust his focus on the main character who is, in fact, "the embodiment of lyricism" and also point his telescope into the future and the past.
Another set of meditations emerges in this chapter, founded in Jaromil's life but pointing to broader considerations: the poet, especially the Romantic poet, as a "Mama's boy" who reconfigures his life through desperate efforts at escape, both in life and through his art.
Kundera uses this characterization to briefly illuminate this aspect of the lives and careers of the s Czech poet Jiri Wolker, and the revered Romantics Shelley, Lermontov, and Rimbaud, would-be bad-boys fleeing the embraces of their mothers and grandmothers, each of whom might be seen as erecting a cult of the defiant self. So Chapter 6 - which, in Kundera's favorite musical terms, is a sort of recapitulation of themes before proceeding to the coda of the last chapter - gives the reader a peculiar gloss on a particular phenomenon in the history of literature.
The translation by Peter Kussi seems acceptable and solid to me, a reader who does not speak Czech. Since the novel is schematic and occasionally thesis-like, there is no need for stylistic heroics or adventures, so I assume the translation reflects a down-to-earth expository prose approach of the original Czech text.
Kundera is famously attentive to and fussy about the fine points of translation. I do not know if this particular translation meets his standards. Possibly not, since there was another translation by Aron Asher ten years after this one, and it has the Kundera "seal of approval" in a brief postscript.
The Asher translation is a little more "flowing", even lyrical, which is surprising when Kundera's animus against lyricism is taken into account. However, in matters of narrative substance and historical allusions the two translations are interchangeable. With regard to the contentious subject of "the lyrical age" of men and mankind , Kundera devoted several passages of his "The Joke" to its consideration, and he has continued to consider it in his several volumes of literary essays.
The briefest way to put it is that "the lyrical age" of young men and women is a period of intense adolescent narcissism and intellectual immaturity born of uncertainty about the self. This leads them into "all or nothing" attitudes which invariably have harmful consequences for themselves and others in the Czech case for the period depicted, "lyricism" resulted in a cheerful alliance between poets and hangmen, as Kundera often reiterates. The biographical background of this long-lasting preoccupation relates, I believe, to what he perceives as the failings and poetic impostures of his own youth, most especially his long poem "The Last May", which depicts in stilted terms the last days of the Communist martyr and cult icon, Julius Fucik.
How much of Jaromil is autobiographical in its details, that is, a fictionalized version of "early Kundera" can only be guessed at. Just as he killed off Jaromil as a character by having him choose to die in response to his disappointments his fatal pneumonia stemming from a weak attempt at suicide Kundera deliberately killed off his earlier self by ceasing to write poetry and turning to prose and to the novel as an "instrument of rational discourse" my term for his approach.
In the end I would call the book a successful thesis and only a qualified success as a novel tastes and judgments about this will, I realize, vary greatly among its readers. Whatever my own hesitations on this point, I recommend the book as well worth reading to those interested in Kundera's career, in Czech literature, and in that part of the recent past in central Europe which is now entering its late phase of "living memory", which means that it might soon be forgotten altogether or significantly misrepresented.
One of the best novels by Milan Kundera. The psychology of characters are very well formed and expressed. Kundera asks and explores a subtle existential question. I enjoyed "Life is Elsewhere" despite some tendencies to be tedious in its descriptions of the young poet, Jaromil. It is a rich book with lots of sub-texts, such as the qualities of surreal art and socialist realism art. The weird thing is the thing about the other young male poets. As the narrator openly states, following Jaromil is a good excuse to talk about other young poets such as France's Rimbaud, and the English poet Percy Shelley.
Overall, the book has long stretches with sparse dialogue. As Wharton would say, he is the reflection of a candle in a mirror, rather than the candle itself. I imagined he was getting something off his chest, annoyed that lesser-talented writers were getting all the praise.
I dimly remember my wife enjoying Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being many years ago, so she's definitely a fan. The book was really good, but not really great. It didn't grab me by the lapels and kiss me. I was frustrated by the author's restraint — presumably instilled in him during a childhood of communist oppression. I did, however, like Kundera's pithy observations, his irreverence and his understated humour.
View all 40 comments. Dec 22, Chrissie rated it it was ok Shelves: classics , relationships , czech-republic , philo-psychol , fiction , humor , read , audible-uk , returned. I finished this book wondering if I had understood correctly what the author was trying to say. I have all sorts of ideas, but they don't hold together into one cohesive message.
The pluses are that the book keeps you thinking, it has sentences that cleverly hint at philosophical messages and lots of amusing lines. The humor is satirical irony. Little is sacrosanct in this book. Not politics. Certainly not sex. So how does the story unroll and what does the book deal with? First and foremost, the relationship between an adolescent son and his doting mother. He is tied to his mother's very short apron strings.
I cannot imagine any reader liking any of the characters. The plot jumps around; it is meant to confound; it is meant to be confusing. It is meant to keep you thinking. It is not the steps of the story we are to follow but rather the underlying philosophical messages we are meant to think about. The author himself interrupts the events and speaks directly to the readers explaining why he has chosen to flip to another episode.
The setting is Prague at the end of the forties and early fifties. Maybe we are not supposed to draw any deep conclusion. Maybe we are simply to laugh. Laugh at society? Laugh at ourselves? What I kept thinking about was how the son never said anything original; he spoke only clever lines that someone else had said or expressed views that one should say.
When what one should say changed, what he said changed too. The book was written by the author in in Czech. Then it was translated into French. In the French translation was revised by the author in an attempt to better correspond to the original. An English translation from the revised French translation was done by Aaron Asher.
This was done in close cooperation with the author to insure that no new distortion should occur. I enjoyed the audiobook narration by Richmond Roxie. Sep 03, Eszter rated it really liked it. I don't know what it is exactly that makes me want to write my first ever review on Goodreads after reading this novel, and yet, after reading it, I know it is impossible to simply let it go.
So here goes Every time I pick up a Kundera novel I'm certain that I am either going to love or hate the novel. This one, within the first few pages, convinced me that I was going to hate it. After forty pages I despised it. The lead character is a self-centered sorry excuse of a human being, who has no i I don't know what it is exactly that makes me want to write my first ever review on Goodreads after reading this novel, and yet, after reading it, I know it is impossible to simply let it go.
The lead character is a self-centered sorry excuse of a human being, who has no identity what-so-ever to call his own. The first forty pages convinced me that I hated the protagonist. And then The moment I embraced the fact that I hated the novel, that I despised its characters I couldn't put it down.
Suddenly the novel opened up to me and revealed to me its inner workings. Jaromil without giving too much away I hope is what exactly? Is he the product, the victim, of his circumstances? A boy raised by an over-protective, maniacal mother, who tries to absorb her own son into her very being, refusing to acknowledge that he is a person on his own? Or is he, rather, despicable because of his weakness and ignorance to take control of his own life?
He has a warped sense of what it means to be a man, every time he makes a statement he simply regurgitates the ideas of others and passes it on as his own. Jaromil is a product of society, never once adopting an individual personality. He becomes his mother, his mentor the painter , the revolutionary and yet, not once is there any sense of Jaromil himself.
His life is meaningless, and all his actions are meaningless and in the end his death, too, is meaningless. What makes this novel so powerful, however, is the fact that it rings so close to the truth. So close to what we, in this society we deem to call modern, have become. There's no space for the individual anymore, and Kundera sums it up perfectly when he writes: "The worst thing isn't that the world isn't free, but that people have unlearned their freedom" We are the products of the societies we function in, no space for individualism, yet we feed society by relinquishing to it our right to freedom, our right to express ourselves as individuals and our right to live our lives the way we want to live them.
Borders both literal and figurative define who we are and will define generations to come This novel touched me in ways I never expected it would and because of its nihilistic ideals, because of the way it forced me to inspect my own life and the paths I've chosen every time I reached a crossroad, I rate this novel five stars instead of one.
View all 4 comments. Nov 03, Sarah Capps rated it really liked it. The students are tearing up the cobblestones, overturning cars, building barricades; their irruption into the world is beautiful and noisy, illuminated by flames and greeted by explosions of tear-gas grenades.
How much more painful was the lot of Rimbaud, who dreamed about the barricades of the Paris Commune and never got to it from Charleville. But in thousands of Rimbauds have their own barricades, behind which they stand and refuse any compromise with the former masters of the world. The emancipation of mankind will be total, or it will not exist. But only a kilometer from there, on the other bank of the Seine, the former masters of the world continue to live their lives, and the din of the Latin Quarter reaches them as something far away.
Dream is reality, the students wrote on the walls, but it seems that the opposite was true: that reality the barricades, the trees cut down, the red flags was a dream. Published in , the book takes place in Czechloslovakia before, during, and after the Second World War and focuses on a young poet and revolutionary named Jaromil. Nothing Jaromil does as a child goes unnoticed.
Childishly cryptic remarks are seen as grand philosophical statements. The sketching of dog heads on human bodies due to the inability to draw human ones is seen as profound artistic vision. Simple rhymes are seen as poetic genius. As Jaromil grows up, he believes himself to be a prodigy, because he has always been told he is.
However, as he gets older he begins to yearn for independence. He joins the revolution, tries to meet girls, becomes secretive, and attempts to turn himself into an individual by rejecting the philosophies of childhood mentors and taking opposing stances. The tragic story unfolds as time and time again the poet tries to free himself of his mother and finds the task an impossibility. View 2 comments. This year is the fiftieth since Kundera finished writing Life is Elsewhere publication came a few years later.
That is the mark of great literature; it steps outside of its obvious confines as it emerges to illuminate universal and eternal questions. This is literature. Much like the little I have read of Kundera, the straightforward prose and allusions are a complex of layers that have to be peeled away with great attention. A great poet must have insight, a quality he never attains. Instead he creates an altar ego, one who lives and acts in preposterous dream worlds with little bearing on reality.
And when he is unable to distinguish between his dreams and real life, the truth ends up having profound consequences, on others as well as himself. Indeed, in a poignant conclusion to the novel, his dream world abandons him, choosing truth over his contrived lies. The title of the novel comes from a verse in a Shelley poem. For Jaromil, life is truly elsewhere, but he never seems to know where or what it is.
View all 5 comments. It too would like to be other novels, those it might have been. Kundera keeps the authorial voice of a third-person omniscient narrator, guiding perhaps controlling our perception and understanding of the events as they unfold. The quotation above is an example, slightly though with a tinge of arrogance in the assumption that he Mr. Narrator knows us the "This novel is like you. Narrator knows us the readers.
For some reason, Kundera likes this idea of power—keeping power over his texts through third-person distant and philosophical narrators. The books tells the story of a young poet who finds himself struggling with an absent father and an overbearing mother, unbeknownst to her of course since everything she does is hidden by the veil of Motherly Love.
Jaromil, the young poet, struggles with his mother as she tries to stay close to him even though he seeks some healthy distance by dating another girl. The story encompasses Jaromil's entire life but this part, with its many ramifications, represents the crux of the narrative.
Nov 07, Deea rated it it was amazing. I so want to write a review for this book as it's sooo good. If only I could find a bit of time for writing these days! I hope I will before I start to forget what I want to write. View all 7 comments. Aug 16, Tej rated it liked it. The question albeit futile, is pertinent from the exigency of not finding a well-knit congruent conglomeration of all the individually worthwhile ideas, pieces of brilliance that overtly or even covertly raked my neural synaptic exchanges to discover do not congeal into brilliant splendor which for me pulls this work down quite decidedly.
My towering expectations brought me to the verge of ridiculing this one in the heat of unfulfilled prejudice but on cooling it down and envisioning through the eyes of open minded reverie, I find it to be good book that enriched me a trifle, but sadly, only that. The potentially gut wrenching experience that seemed round the corner always remained there, round the corner, never visited the gut. It must be read when one has eons of patience and no or little expectation or harshly speaking when lacking anything else ready to read only my opinion of course.
There is Jaromil and his mama around whom the story starts to weave itself which is sheer poetry at times when the existential chords of the two of them are explored. The poignant end of rebellions! First she rebelled against her parents for the sake of the young engineer, and then she ran to her parents for help against him. Wasn't her great love for the poet's father a romantic rebellion against the dullness and regularity of her parents' life?
Wasn't there a hidden likeness between the untamed landscape and the boldness she, the daughter of a rich merchant, showed in choosing a penniless engineer who had just finished his studies? This thought provided her a reassuring excuse, for it follows that she was brought into adultery not by her sensuality but by her innocence; and the thought of innocence immediately increased her anger toward the one who perpetually kept her in a state of innocent half maturity, and this anger fell like an iron curtain in front of her thoughts so that she only heard her breath quicken and she gave up pondering what she was doing.
She watched over her son's burps, pees, and poops not only with concern for the child's health; no, she watched over all the small body's activities with passion. The emotional insecurity and possessiveness of his mother gets complemented by the overt sensitivity and introvertedness of the son who at times is willing to leave all his poetry for a semblance of manliness only to recede behind the same lyricism for comfort as well as to find his own voice in the world that mauls him each time he ventures But there was something more precious than his poems; something far away he didn't yet possess and longed for—manliness; he knew that it could only be attained by action and courage; and if courage meant courage to be rejected, rejected by everything, by the beloved woman, by the painter, and even by his own poems—so be it: he wanted to have that courage.
This world of his becomes his immunity, a cocoon that is ephemeral but becomes his eternal carrier in the worldly confusions he fails to grapple with. The world was constantly wounding him; he blushed when he faced women, he was ashamed, and he saw ridicule everywhere. In his dreams of death he found silence; one could live there slowly, mutely, and happily. Yes, death, as Jaromil imagined it, was a lived death: it was oddly like that period when a person has no need to enter the world because he is a world unto himself When it starts to dabble with politics, questions of art, life and philosophy, does the book starts hitting the nadir.
Although well written and structured, these sections do not back themselves sufficiently to elicit belief or provide confidence that they are integral components of otherwise poignant story. It all borders very nearly on being an exercise in futility. The semblance of perspective is attained but fails to make an enrapturing sense of it all to sing paeans or vouch for it. Aug 01, Kritanya rated it really liked it. It's not easy to truly describe the experience of reading a book by Milan Kundera.
His prose is elusive and leaves you with the feeling like you're floating on nothing. I'm not sure how to even classify his writing style because I haven't read a lot of similar authors - I would say poetic, satirical and allegorical, or perhaps a combination of it.
It starts out with one thing and ends in some kind of a profound and yet completely ordinary realization. I guess that's what I like about his books. L It's not easy to truly describe the experience of reading a book by Milan Kundera. Life is elsewhere is about a boy coddled by his mother and how that shapes their lives or doesn't.
It's about the constant state of arousal and misfiring that is linked with growing up. And the consequences of emulating beliefs we don't quite understand. Kundera's defiance to stick to a plot or some kind of a structure is what keeps me wondering how he does what he does. He creates characters so true to themselves that you can't help but despise and appreciate their honesty and humaneness at the same time. His non-linear style can get pretty annoying but I didn't mind considering how it ended.
To make one ruminate or introspect while brimming with ambiguity is what I consider the work of a genius. But if structured plots and well-defined characters is what you're looking for, then this may not be for you. Feb 23, Kirti Upreti rated it liked it. Where shall I begin? If there's one kind of person you should definitely avoid in your life, it's the protagonist of the book - Jaromil - the poor, hapless, blood sucking and exasperating Jaromil.
I read the first half of the book a few months ago and put it on hold to overcome my disgust towards the dimwit protagonist. I assumed the time gap would have subsided the venom this guy had spread across my veins. I couldn't be more wrong!
To add to the misery, there is Jaromil's mother whose a Alright. To add to the misery, there is Jaromil's mother whose amount of attachment towards her son can only be euphemistically called unhealthy. This pair is toxic and to think that some unfortunate fellows have to bear with such kind of burden throughout their lives makes me sympathetic. To those people who are trapped with such asyphyxiating characters, the title of the book is a guiding light.
You should shove everything aside and plan your escape because your life is definitely elsewhere. I implore you to just run away as far as you can. Milan Kundera, you're a genius! Tomorrow it will be a full moon. Is that a sure promise? Now there was only one solution: to leave the abandoned booth as quickly as possible! A LIE syndrome! I feel this book is about the illusions that we allude to o "Deep in the cell of my heart I really want to go There is another world There is a better world Must be Yet amidst all these, beautiful old promise of escape that "Life is Elsewhere" maybe around the corner -- never ceases to exist!
Shrieking, hard, irritating, and intimidating, fit only for belief revision, here is the work as an invitation for reconsideration, not merely a novel. Life is Elsewhere dislocates its readers and gets us out of the comfort zone, bringing us face to face with our worst fears. What if our lives did not really matter and what if our emotions were merely pathetic! Apr 20, Elizabeth rated it liked it Recommends it for: I would not recommend. Shelves: fiction. I've been trying to finish this book for four years.
I'm giving up on it. Feb 03, Bob Newman rated it it was amazing Shelves: european-literature. Mao Tsetung arrived with his vast armies at Beijing and declared that "China had stood up". We dreamed we would change the world as youths, we might die for a great cause, we yelled at barricades of whatever material-or perhaps th "Nerdy Wordsmith Rats On Flame, Conks Out Young" Fidel Castro and his bearded men charged down out of the Sierra Maestra and paraded victorious through the streets of Havana to delirious cheers of adoring crowds.
We dreamed we would change the world as youths, we might die for a great cause, we yelled at barricades of whatever material-or perhaps they were intangible and loved with the passions of the times. Repression of anybody except "the exploiters" never appeared on the cards, no, it was freedom in the air. Hasn't this atmosphere repeated itself time and time again, across the globe? And there's always a poet or two to inscribe glorious verses on the stones of History. Byron, Mayakovsky, Rimbaud, Marti, Rizal.
Then what kind of poet would you need? Well, what kind do you get? Novelists who write books called "Cement". And poets like Jaromil, the subject of this great novel. Fidel called the people who fled the new Cuba "gusanos" or worms. Reading Kundera's novel about Czechoslovakia, you feel strongly that the gusanos remained and cooperated, wrote poetry in praise of the unpraise-able. Or, maybe there's a global glut of gusanos. Maybe a gusano poet is about as necessary as wings on a turtle.
The world around the main characters, the society at large, remain pale and nearly invisible. He and we really see nobody except his motherhis loves are extensions of his ego, his poetry or paintings the same. Dreams and fantasy are his stock in trade, his alter-ego jumps in and out of beds, while Jaromil stews. All is self-absorption. In modern America, this poet would be called a "dweeb". We have to laugh at Jaromil or scorn him.
Kundera spares no one, not his main character and certainly not his readers. Jaromil is surrounded, as the author says, with a wall of mirrors, and cannot see beyond.
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