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'A cult figure.' Guardian
'A dark and brilliant achievement.' Ian McEwan
'Shamelessly clever ... Exhilaratingly subversive and funny.' Independent
'A modern classic ... As relevant now as when it was first published. ' John Banville
A young woman is in love with a successful surgeon - a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanising. His mistress, a free-spirited artist, lives her life as a series of betrayals - while her other lover stands to lose everything because of his noble qualities.
In a world where lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and fortuitous events, and everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance and weight - and we feel 'the unbearable lightness of being'.
A masterpiece by one of the world's truly great writers, Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being encompasses passion and philosophy, infidelity and ideas, the Prague Spring and modern America, political acts and private desires, comedy and tragedy - and illuminates all aspects of human existence.
What readers are saying:
'Some books change your mind, some change your heart, the very best change your whole world ... A mighty piece of work, that will shape your life forever.'
'One of the best books I've ever read ... A book about love and life, full of surprises. Beautiful.'
'This book is going to change your life ... It definitely leaves you with a hangover after you're done reading.'
'A must read - loved it, such beautiful observations on life, love and sexuality.'
'Kundera writes about love as if in a trance so the beauty of it is enchanting and dreamy ... Will stay with you forever.'
'A beautiful novel that helps you understand life better ... Loved it.'
'One of those rare novels full of depth and insight into the human condition ... Got me reading Camus and Sartre.'
'One of the best books I have ever read ... An intellectual love story if ever there was one.'
'This book is a novel in the form of variations. The various parts follow each other like the various stages of a voyage leading into the interior of a theme, the interior of a thought, the interior of a single, unique situation the understanding of which recedes from my sight into the distance. It is a book about laughter and about forgetting, about forgetting and about Prague, about Prague and about the angels.'
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is the most secret of Kundera's novels. This new translation is the first to be fully authorized by Milan Kundera.
Casting light on the most serious of problems and at the same time saying not one serious sentence; being fascinated by the reality of the contemporary world and at the same time completely avoiding realism-that's The Festival of Insignificance. Readers who know Kundera's earlier books know that the wish to incorporate an element of the "unserious" in a novel is not at all unexpected of him. In Immortality, Goethe and Hemingway stroll through several chapters together talking and laughing. And in Slowness, Vera, the author's wife, says to her husband: "you've often told me you meant to write a book one day that would have not a single serious word in it... I warn you: watch out. Your enemies are lying in wait."
Now, far from watching out, Kundera is finally and fully realizing his old aesthetic dream in this novel that we could easily view as a summation of his whole work. A strange sort of summation. Strange sort of epilogue. Strange sort of laughter, inspired by our time, which is comical because it has lost all sense of humor. What more can we say? Nothing. Just read.
Faber Stories, a landmark series of individual volumes, presents masters of the short story form at work in a range of genres and styles.
A chance encounter leads a man to spend the afternoon with an older woman, now a widow, who escaped him fifteen years earlier. Neither of them doubts that the day will end in disgust, but for one intimate moment each finds a way to overcome mortality.
Written in 1969, before Milan Kundera was known to English-speaking readers, this story renders male and female characters painful equals, and prompted Philip Roth to admire its 'detached Chekhovian tenderness'.
This breathtaking, reverberating survey of human nature finds Kundera still attempting to work out the meaning of life without losing his acute sense of humour. It is one of those great unclassifiable masterpieces that appear once every twenty years or so.
'It will make you cleverer, maybe even a better lover. Not many novels can do that.' Nicholas Lezard, GQ
Sometimes - perhaps only for an instant - we fail to recognise a companion; for a moment their identity ceases to exist, and thus we come to doubt our own. The effect is at its most acute in a couple where our existence is given meaning by our perception of a lover, and theirs of us.
With his astonishing skill at building on and out from the significant moment, Kundera has placed such a situation and the resulting wave of panic at the core of the novel. In a narrative as intense as it is brief, a moment of confusion sets in motion a complex chain of events which forces the reader to cross and recross the divide between fantasy and reality. Profound, sad and disquieting but above all a love story, Identity provides further proof of Kundera's astonishing gifts as a novelist.
Slowness was Milan Kundera's first novel written in French. Disconcerted and enchanted, the reader follows him through a midsummer's night in which two tales of seduction, separated in time by more than two hundred years, interweave and oscillate between the sublime and ridiculous.
As Kundera's readers would expect, Slowness is at the same time a formidable display of existential analysis. Slowness (and rapidity), discretion (and exhibitionism) are the principal concepts, and those which are to the reader like vital keys for understanding life in our contemporary world.
The Joke, Milan Kundera's first novel, gained him a huge following in his own country, and launched his worldwide literary reputation.
'Kundera is the saddest, funniest and most lovable of authors.' The Times
Kundera's essay has been written like a novel. In the course of nine separate sections, the same characters meet and cross paths with each other. Stravinsky and Kafka with their odd friends Ansermet and Brod; Hemingway with his biographer; Janácek with his little nation; and Rabelais with his heirs - the great novelists.
In the light of their wisdom this book examines some of the great situations of our time. The moral trial of the twentieth century's art, from Celine to Mayakovsky; the passage of time which blurs the boundaries between the 'I' of the present day and the 'I' of the past; modesty as an essential concept in an age based on the individual and indiscretion which, as it becomes the habit and the norm, heralds the twilight of individualism; the testaments, the betrayed testaments - of Europe, of art, of the art of the novel and of artists.
Jacques and His Master is a deliciously witty and entertaining 'variation' on Diderot's novel Jacques le fataliste, written for Milan Kundera's 'private pleasure' in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia. When the 'heavy Russian irrationality' fell on Czechoslovakia he felt drawn to the spirit of the eighteenth century - 'And it seemed to me that nowhere was it to be found more densely concentrated than in that banquet of intelligence, humour and fantasy, Jacques le Fataliste'.
This translation by Simon Callow has delighted Kundera's admirers throughout the English-speaking world.