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The Book of Laughter and Forgetting [Paperback]

Milan Kundera , Aaron Asher
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

20 May 1996

'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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (20 May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057117437X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571174379
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


""The Book of Laughter and Forgetting calls itself a novel, although it is part fairy tale, part literary criticism, part political tract, part musicology, and part autobiography. It can call itself whatever it wants to, because the whole is genius.""-- New York Times""This book, as it bluntly calls itself, is brilliant and original, written with the purity and wit that invite us directly in."-- John Updike, "New York Times Book Review"

About the Author

The French-Czech novelist Milan Kundera was born in the Czech Republic and has lived in France since 1975.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read, but.. 25 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An interesting and thought-provoking novel. This was the first Kundera novel I have read and to an extent, I was impressed. The book is rather philosophical throughout and challenges issues such as political oppression, perceptions of sexuality and death. I am not one to typically choose philosophical reading, however this book has teased me to read more. There are many extracts I love from this book that I will remember and read over and over again for their strong metaphorical power and existential provocation (in other words many chapters are the trigger for a long thinking session about the way we perceive things in life) - however the whole book is not like this. I would love to say this whole book was gripping and interesting from cover to cover, but this is not the case. Despite there being many interesting parts, a lot of the novel is, in my opinion, a waste of words. There are long sections that are neither philosophical nor gripping, but a simple account of an ordinary event in a character's life. This is the sort of language Kundera uses frequently throughout the novel, and I was disappointed by the lack of "good parts". Therefore, for people willing to read a whole novel for only a handful of amazing metaphors and perceptions, this is the novel for you. But those looking for a constant thrill and a gripping book, I would stay away from this one.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars you wont forget this 6 Jan 2003
This book was the best accident that ever happened to me. I picked it up because it was cheap and it stopped me reading Dean Koontz which can only be a good thing! It has a fractured, post modern narrative which leaps back and forth and the author brings into question who is writing and what is being created. The language he uses is amazing at times for it's sheer simplicity. The words seem to dance around each other - quite literally at times as in the chapter where the whole world begins to dance in a ring which floats off into the sky. Kundera owes a lot to Kafka although he seems to have a more optimistic outlook on life. He also reminds me at times of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, as strange things begin to happen yet none of the characters notice anything strange! He creates fantastically interesting theories and perfect sentances. Read it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical 30 Jan 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this book fascinating. It sent me on a journey and I had no idea where I went or what was going to happen at the end. Nothing happened at the end except that I knew I had been on a wonderful journey. Reading Kundera is like eating a bar of chocolate without the calories. His writing flows like a stream and you are gently taken along it and even if you do not understand all he says you dont really mind because its just such a nice journey.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is a collection of similar short stories or, as Kundera explains it, a novel written in the experimental style of several variations on the same theme, and indeed all the stories/chapters are dependent on each other, and there is only one reasonable way of reading this book: from the first page to the end. The theme in question, as the title suggests, is that of laughter and forgetting, and this novel is worth reading just for its thought-provoking discussions on this subject. But all these discussions are just one of the several ingredients which make this novel a rich, enjoyable and unforgettable novel. Kundera's story telling and character crafting are at his best. Each plot is intelligent, funny as well as dramatic, evolves unpredictably and is delivered with great confidence. The novel is written very clearly and is immensely easy to read, although it is very hard not to stop often to think about what is written. All characters, and there are dozens of them, have a life of their own, are described in immense detail, and they often surprise the reader as well as the author. Kundera is also included in the character list, and this is his most autobiographic novel I've read. This novel is a must read for those who have enjoyed some of Kundera's novels. I also suggest this novel (and The Unbearable Lightness of Being) as an introduction to Kundera's works. This book is about laughter, forgetting, love, sex, history, politics, philosophy, beauty, ugliness, youth, old age and yourself, and is written by one of the most talented authors of our times.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once again Kundera at his "Unbearable" best! 15 Mar 2001
Simply brilliant!
Kundera once again keeps you quite literally captivated for 312 pages and then has you just asking for more.This is most certainly one of his best and altough not probably as well known as "Immortality" or "The unbearable lightness of being" it certainly earns the right to sit up there alongside them as a Kundera classic.Once again all the usual Kundera hallmarks are there,his passion for Prague and his country,the brilliantly interwinning themes and characters and most importantly the pain that inspires his writing.This truly is a most thought-provoking read and once again just leaves you wanting more!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing 17 Dec 2013
By dasha
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent condition, fantastic price and timely dispatch.

The book is a beautiful piece of literature which will take you on a very unconventional narrative journey! Enjoy the ride.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 3 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An absolute fantastic book.
Unique style of writing with each chapter appearing to be something completely different from the previous.
Really good read.
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