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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, perceptive glimpses of the mundane unpredictability
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...
Published on 1 Mar 2000 by Bloke

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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars would not recommend this book!
this book was so boring and i would not recommend it..theres a lot of short stories but i found them all to be so plain and boring..waste of money
Published on 26 Jan 2012 by Dee


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, perceptive glimpses of the mundane unpredictability, 1 Mar 2000
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This review is from: Laughable Loves (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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant insight into the male mindset in times of love., 9 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Laughable Loves (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Controlled by base urge, 3 April 2012
This review is from: Laughable Loves (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. We may play with gods, careers, influence or power, but our ultimate and single-minded motive is the achievement of the momentary majesty of sexual communion.

In his film, Casanova may have been likened to an erectile clockwork toy, pre-ordained by virtue of inevitable, hard-wired mechanism to perform whenever wound up. And in this book, Kundera presents people who mimic such automata, except that occasionally a spring gives, or a cog slips. "Ah, ladies and gentlemen," he writes, "a man lives a sad life when he cannot take anyone or anything seriously." But almost no-one in these stories is eventually serious about anything, except the sex drive that controls them and whose realisation so often results in no more than sensations of the ephemeral. Immediately it is the next time that is yearned. They are thus all sad, quite absurdly sad, even as the invisible hand that manipulates their cut-out play in an alien theatre makes them move and perform. Even sadder is the human cut-out who doesn't even believe that such a controlling hand might exist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Seven stories about laughter, love, randomness and nostalgia, 9 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Laughable Loves (Paperback)
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! Each of them is an expression of the randomness of life and the illusion that we control our stories, including our love stories: `it had only been my illusion', says the protagonist of one story, `that we ourselves saddle events and control their course; the truth is that they aren't our stories at all, that they are foisted on us from somewhere outside; that in no way do they represent us; that we are not to blame for the strange paths they follow; that they are themselves directed from who knows where by who knows what strange forces'.

Some of the stories, for example `Nobody will laugh', are linked to `The Joke' as they involve the development of an innocent, random joke into a series of serious events: `we pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded. We are permitted merely to sense and guess at what we are actually experiencing. Only later when the cloth is untied can we glance at the past and find out what we have experienced and what meaning it has'.

Other stories, e.g. `The golden apple of eternal desire' or `dr Havel after 20 years', involve games that are continued because of nostalgia and because of the love of youth even when they have long lost their original meaning. `The hitchhiking game' involves a game which has gradually become a trap for the lovers involved, without their conscious knowledge or understanding of how this transformation came about.

My personal favourite was `Eduard and God', the final story in the book, which brought tears of laughter to my eyes; this is yet another story about randomness, lies, games, jokes- all in the context of how people deal with love, how it comes about, how it dies out, how it's avoided and how it's embraced.

As funny and light as these stories are- and they make for thoroughly enjoyable, easy reading- they're equally painful, bitter and tragic, very much about the passing of time and the longing for youth; but there's also a whimsical quality to Kundera's writing, a `what the hell' element. Kundera, as always, writes starkly and elegantly, offering insight into love through quite bare, straightforward words. A delight to read if Kundera is your cup of tea: I truly love him but of course he's not for everyone.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In Love, 5 Oct 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Laughable Loves (Paperback)
I first read this as part of a college class---and I don't think I read any of the other required reading because I spent the rest of the time reading Kundera. Although obviously different from his other works in format, Kundera's insight brings clarity to life's most confusing and fundamental situations.
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars laugh at your love life, 21 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Laughable Loves (Paperback)
A set of Kundera-style short stories about love and how it often turns out to be laughable. Intelligent and entertaining.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars would not recommend this book!, 26 Jan 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Laughable Loves (Paperback)
this book was so boring and i would not recommend it..theres a lot of short stories but i found them all to be so plain and boring..waste of money
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars laugh at your love life, 5 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Laughable Loves (Paperback)
A set of Kundera-style short stories about love and how it often turns out to be laughable. Intelligent and entertaining.
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