The Joke

The Joke

Definitive Version

Book - 1992
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All too often, this brilliant novel of thwarted love and revenge miscarried has been read for its political implications. Now, a quarter century after The Joke was first published and several years after the collapse of the Soviet-imposed Czechoslovak regime, it becomes easier to put such implications into perspective in favor of valuing the book (and all Kundera 's work) as what it truly is: great, stirring literature that sheds new light on the eternal themes of human existence. The present edition provides English-language readers an important further means toward revaluation of The Joke. For reasons he describes in his Author's Note, Milan Kundera devoted much time to creating (with the assistance of his American publisher-editor) a completely revised translation that reflects his original as closely as any translation possibly can: reflects it in its fidelity not only to the words and syntax but also to the characteristic dictions and tonalities of the novel's narrators. The result is nothing less than the restoration of a classic.
Publisher: New York, NY : HarperCollins Publishers, c1992
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780060995058
Branch Call Number: 891.863 K96z1
Characteristics: xi, 317 p. ; 25 cm


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Oct 05, 2017

Milan Kundera's first novel, The Joke, was initially published four and a half decades ago but stands the test of time as a great, tragic story of what happens when ordinary people, trying to live ordinary lives, are caught up in a political system that drains them of their humanity. Published in the former Czechoslovakia during a time when the Communist constraints on art were temporarily relaxed, The Joke follows the lives of four people during the Stalinist period. The book was banned following the Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968, but its publication abroad in many languages taught the world what life is like in a society where nothing is private, not even love. But The Joke is not only a "political" novel; it is also a story about how anger and bitterness can deform an individual, how revenge can be empty, and how personal contentment may rest, after all, in the pure and simple things in one's world.

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