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The Joke by Milan Kundera. New York. 1969. Coward McCann. Translated From The Czech By David Hamblyn & Oliver Stallybrass.

 

 

Later translated From the Czech by Michael Henry Heim in 1982, and then fully revised by the author & newly translated again by Michael Henry Heim. The 1982 edition provides English-language readers an important further means toward revaluation of THE JOKE. For reasons he describes in his Author's Note to that edition, Milan Kundera devoted much time to creating 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.

 

joke kunderaFROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In 1992, 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 as what it truly is: great, stirring literature that sheds new light on the eternal themes of human existence. 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 as what it truly is: great, stirring literature that sheds new light on the eternal themes of human existence. All too often, this brilliant novel of thwarted love and revenge miscarried has been read for its political implications.

 

 

Kundera Milan The son of a well-known pianist, Milan Kundera was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia. He was enrolled in the Czech Communist Party right after the Second World War, then debarred from it after the incidents of February, 1948 (the takeover of Prague), at which time he was a student. He worked as a laborer, then as a jazz musician, and finally ended up devoting himself to literature and film. He was a professor at the Prague Institute for Advanced Cinematographic Studies, where his students were the creators of the Czech New Wave in film. After the Russian invasion in 1968, he lost his post and saw all his books removed from the public libraries in his country. In 1975, he settled in France, and in 1979, the Czech government, responding to the publication of THE BOOK OF LAUGHTER AND FORGETTING, revoked his Czech citizenship. His first novel, THE JOKE, and his collection of stories, LAUGHABLE LOVES, appeared in print in Prague before 1968. His other novels have not been allowed publication in his fatherland. LIFE IS ELSEWHERE won the Prix Medicis for the best foreign novel published in France in 1973, and The Farewell Party won a similar prize, the Premio Mondello, for the best foreign novel published in Italy in 1976. Kundera’s works have been translated into twenty languages.

 

 

 

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