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Laughable Loves Paperback – Sep 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060997036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060997038
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Milan Kundera, born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, was a student when the Czech Communist regime was established in 1948, and later worked as a labourer, jazz musician and professor at the Institute for Advanced Cinematographic Studies in Prague. After the Russian invasion in August 1968, his books were proscribed. In 1975, he and his wife settled in France, and in 1981, he became a French citizen. 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, and Immortality, and of the short-story collection Laughable Loves - all originally in Czech. His most recent novels, Slowness, Identity and Ignorance, as well as his non-fiction works The Art of the Novel and Testaments Betrayed, were originally written in French.

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Review

"An intellectual heavyweight and a pure literary virtuoso, Milan Kundera takes some of Freud's most cherished complexes and irreverently whirls them about in acts of legerdemain that capture our darkest, deepest human passions?The tales in "Laughable Loves" surprise and illuminate?Kundera's world is complex, full of mockeries and paradoxes. Life is often brutal and humiliating; it is often blasphemous, funny, irritating."-- Abe Ravitz, "Cleveland Plain Dealer""Milan Kundera offers a very special blend of sympathy and cynicism, irony and affability, that is unmatched in our literature." -- Thomas Joyce, " Chicago Sun-Times" "Light, wry, and wise."-- John Skow, "Time""Buoyantly energetic and virtuosic."-- Walter Clemons, "Newsweek" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Laughable Loves by Milan Kundera is a collection of seven masterful short stories which were banned upon their appearance in 1968. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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"Pour me some more slivovitz," said Klara, and I wasn't against it. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Milan Kundera is one of the few authors in the world who can capture the painful transparency of desire with a few lines. In his collection of short stories, 'Laughable Loves', he uses his sparse but intricate prose to devastating effect, exposing the complex structures men build on top of their ultimately mundane fantasies and erotic desires. The author does not employ intricate and bemusing syntax; his straightforward, teasing style of writing illustrates his astute perceptiveness when unravelling the myths of love. This book is a gem of a starter course- rather than leaving the reader bloated and immobile by unnecessary stodge, this book can make us appreciate the idea of thoughtful reflection being an ingredient in the creation of self-explaining simplicity, leaving us with a myriad of sensations to savour.
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Format: Paperback
This is a collection of short stories about love particularly from the male perspective. Each looks at contrasting different aspects of love with unnerving verisimilitude. Kundera's observation of human behaviour is startingly accurate as he deftly unravels the male psyche; the female characters are no more idly portrayed either. The prose is lucid, elegant and concise, as is the situational complicity of each plot. This book shows how men are consumed by, and can be crippled by love (in a way that many women think impossible) and how this can tenuously result in them acting as they do - often as irreverent, cold-hearted bastards. Women, read this to understand your hubby/men in general; men, read this to know that you are not alone.
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Format: Paperback
If only Milan Kundera's short story collection Laughable Loves had been simply an enjoyable read... Several other adjectives come to mind: arresting, compelling, strange, detached, sometimes disappointing. None of these get to the core of the work, a core that, on finishing the book, might seem more elusive than at any time during the progress of the text.

In Laughable Loves we are presented with characters that often seem to behave like cut-outs being pushed across a stage whose set is alien to them. They often seem only partially engaged with their own lives, even lost in their surroundings, no matter how familiar they are claimed to be. They are apparently controlled by others, perhaps by forces not only beyond their control, but also beyond their influence, even beyond their experience.

On the surface, however, this is not a book about totalitarianism or overt control. There are hardly any overtly political themes or references. As a background, as might be expected, this seems to be taken as given. There are references to a faceless system here and there, but this in no Kafka-esque construction of an all-embracing and constraining reality. In Laughable Loves Milan Kundera seems to imprison people primarily within the demands of their own humanity. They seem to be enslaved by their own, inevitable, controllable but not controlled urges. This is fundamental behaviour that they think they can control, but the fact that they cannot confirms that it controls them.

And, of course, the urge of sex, the reality of sex, the realisation of sex, the promise of sex, the deferment of sex, the doing of sex, all of these vie for the forefront of consciousness, their common factor apparently both the motive and the end of all intent.
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I've re-discovered Kundera's charming books many years after my first introduction to (and immersion in) them; I had originally read some of his books when I was still an adolescent. It's interesting with Kundera; I think if someone reads his books, as is often the case, in their teens and early twenties, they leave the reader with a completely different impression than when read later in life. What seemed, in my teens, charming sophistry about faraway stages of life- interesting but basically irrelevant to me- now becomes much more resonant, bitter and true to my current experience. All those philosophical, whimsical, laugh out loud funny but (at heart) tragic thoughts that Kundera is a master of become more painful, true to life and ironic, but also much more deeply enjoyable, when read in middle life. At least that's been my experience of re-reading Kundera recently.

`Laughable loves' is a collection of 7 love stories written in (the then) Czechoslovakia, in the 60s. Differently to `The Joke' (which I read a few weeks ago), here Kundera allows politics to remain in the background, although it's interesting to read through the lines and imagine the authoritarian background against which the love stories Kundera describes play themselves out.

There's a thread running through all seven love stories, and I suppose it's evident in the title: they're all laughable!
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