The Joke PDF ñ Hardcover

The Joke PDF ñ Hardcover 402 ert The Joke, Milan KunderaThe Joke is Milan Kundera s first novel, originally published in 1967 The novel is composed of many jokes, which have strong effects on the characters The story is told from the four viewpoints of Ludvik Jahn, Helena Zem nkov , Kostka, and Jaroslav Jaroslav s joke is the transition away from his coveted Moravian folk lifestyle and appreciation Kostka, who has separated himself from the Communist Party due to his Christianity, serves as a counterpoint to Lud 402 ert The Joke, Milan KunderaThe Joke is Milan Kundera s first novel, originally published in 1967 The novel is composed of many jokes, which have strong effects on the characters The story is told from the four viewpoints of Ludvik Jahn, Helena Zem nkov , Kostka, and Jaroslav Jaroslav s joke is the transition away from his coveted Moravian folk lifestyle and appreciation Kostka, who has separated himself from the Communist Party due to his Christianity, serves as a counterpoint to Ludvik Helena serves as Ludvik s victim and is satirical of the seriousness of party supporters Ludvik demonstrates the shortcomings of the party and propels the plot in his search for revenge and redemption 1992 1370 1372 411 1379 9645512808 1388 20 1967 The first definitive, complete edition of the author s classic first novel presents a tale of love, politics, revenge, and the fate of individuals in contemporary society By the author of The Unbearable Lightness of BeingToward the end of this brilliant first novel of thwarted love and revenge miscarried, its leading character narrator arrives at the thought that most people deceive themselves with a pair of faiths they believe in eternal memory of people, things, deeds, nations and in redressibility of deeds, mistakes, sins, wrongs Both are false faiths In reality the opposite is true everything will be forgotten and nothing will be redressed The task of obtaining redress by vengeance or by forgiveness will be taken over by forgetting No one will redress the wrongs that have been done, but all wrongs will be forgotten All too often, prophetic words like these, and indeed The Joke in its entirety, have been read for their narrowly political implications Now, a quarter century after this novel 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 of 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 The Set UpMilan Kundera wrote this, his first, novel in his early 30 s.I had already read and loved two later works, and was expecting it to be somehow inferior, as if he was still learning the ropes However, it s an amazingly mature novel, and could fit anywhere in his body of work.For all its metaphysical concerns, the writing style is very much concerned with the material world and the dynamism within it Philosophy derives partly from the activity of external factors The first person narra The Set UpMilan Kundera wrote this, his first, novel in his early 30 s.I had already read and loved two later works, and was expecting it to be somehow inferior, as if he was still learning the ropes However, it s an amazingly mature novel, and could fit anywhere in his body of work.For all its metaphysical concerns, the writing style is very much concerned with the material world and the dynamism within it Philosophy derives partly from the activity of external factors The first person narrators discover what people are thinking indirectly from their actions Kundera observes and describes a character s behaviour rather than dwelling directly on their psychology We see what characters have done, then we see them come undone Bit by bit, by accumulation of knowledge, we start to understand why.The novel plays out like a tense game of chess Every move is precisely choreographed Kundera sets the characters off on their journey, then follows them with his camera And we follow him Sometimes the work reads like a novelisation of a film or play It portrays exactly what we see Not a word is wasted.The JokeThe concept of a joke pervades the novel The title derives from a postcard the protagonist, Ludvik, writes to Marketa, the target of his affection, while she is studying Marxism in a Czech summer school in the early 60 sOptimism is the opium of the people A healthy atmosphere stinks of stupidity Long live TrotskyThe postcard is discovered by the Communist authorities, and after a brief investigation, hearing and vote, Ludvik is expelled from the Party, sacked from his teaching position at a university and sent off to work in a mine with enemies of the state.Despite her beauty, Marketa is credulous, intellectually dull and lacking in a sense of humour Ludvik s postcard is an attempt to play a silly joke on Marketa However, the joke is lost on both Marketa and the state.The TrapIn his preface, Kundera denies that the novel was designed to be amajor indictment of Stalinism Instead, he argues that it s a love story It is that, but I think he s being just a little ingenuous Kundera pays equal attention to the political Whether or not society had similar problems under Communism and Capitalism, Kundera describes a rigidity and humourlessness that affects both individuals and the state Later, he would write ofthe trap the world has become.The underlying problem is both social and political the tendency of both the individual and the state to be overly serious, inflexible, self protective and punitive Whatever the political system, a sense of humour is a safety valve that allows pent up personal and social pressures to escape Humour can relax, relieve and release tension not to mention pretension If humour isn t possible or it doesn t work in the circumstances, the person, the collective remains too highly strung, too highly sprung The joke is a spring, a coil that allows the situation to uncoil and the tension to dissipate A joke is what allows a tree to bend and sway in the wind.The StructureKundera tells his tale in seven separate parts, each of which is divided into sub parts Each part is narrated by one of the major characters, three men, and one woman Helena One of the other characters, Lucie, is a trigger point for much of the action However, she doesn t tell her own story Instead, the other characters shine a light on her from outside We are never confident that we have gotten to know her She remains elusive.After publication, a Czech critic observed that there was a mathematical structure to the novel that wasn t apparent to Kundera himself If you broke the novel into 18 parts, Ludvik s monologue took up 12, Jaroslav three, Kostka two, and Helena one I can t help picturing this as a fern like fractal that furls and unfurls in the telling Thus, the coiling and uncoiling of the joke and its aftermath is reflected in the structure of the novel.The Punch LineApart from the joke, as Kundera states, the novel is a love story We see most of it from Ludvik s twenty thirty something point of view We see what he does to women and why It s not always a pretty picture, but it is truthful Ludvik s goal isn t always his own sexual pleasure or that of his companion His relationship with Helena whose story we hear from her is motivated by revenge on a rival which proves to be misconceived Some readers might complain about Ludvik s or Kundera s sexism and cruelty However, overall, the design of the novel allows us to witness different perspectives in a polyphonic manner When we see the situation from the other side s , we learn that Ludvik might equally have been the victim of a cosmic joke Both photos are stills from the 1969 film of the novel directed by Jaromil Jire The RecognitionThe Jokeis effectively a caveat against egotism, a warning against selfishness, especially in sexual relationships In the Communist polit speak used against Ludvik, it s a reproach oftraces of individualismandintellectual tendencies , the refusal to submit to the greater good whether of the couple or of society However, these traces and tendencies go further than Communist society, hence the broader ambitions Kundera had for his novel.Whatever the political environment, Kundera describes adepression over the bleakness of our erotic horizons.How men in particular deal with this bleakness and depression reflects in their sexual behaviour It s too easy for men to take it out on the woman closest to them.Ludvik comments onthe incredible human capacity for transforming reality into a likeness of desires or ideals He describes the women in his life as angels and goddesses There s a lack of reality in his perspective Inevitably, it compromises the relationship itself a man may ask anything of a woman, but unless he wishes to appear a brute, he must make it possible for her to act in harmony with her deepest self deceptions So women, equally, have desires and ideals that might misguide them For both genders, then, desire is often founded in self deceit, if not also the deceit of others.The Vain PursuitLudvik defines women in relation to himself and his own needs Lucie s truth is hidden from Ludvik, because his gaze is single mindedly selfishI d always taken comfort in seeing Lucie as something abstract, a legend and a myth, but now I realised that behind the poetry of my vision hid a starkly unpoetic reality that I didn t know her as she actually was, in and of herself All I d been able to perceive in my youthful egocentricity was those aspects of her being touching directly on me my loneliness, my captivity, my desire for tenderness and affection she had never been anythingto me than a function of my situation, everything she was in her own right, had escaped me entirely Ultimately, Lucie reveals to Ludvik and via him to all men how much of their love is merevain pursuit By extension, Kundera suggests that, both in our vanity and in our pursuit, we are the brunt of our own joke There was a time when a joke could force you into exile or send you to jail Nowadays you can make the most outrageous claims and actually mean them If anybody calls you out on your complete lack of truth or empathy or both, you just say Joke And there won t be any consequences The right to a disgusting sense of humour seems engraved in populist politicians minds, and their sycophants are the master interpreters of jokes just like the secret police forces in the former Communist world were There was a time when a joke could force you into exile or send you to jail Nowadays you can make the most outrageous claims and actually mean them If anybody calls you out on your complete lack of truth or empathy or both, you just say Joke And there won t be any consequences The right to a disgusting sense of humour seems engraved in populist politicians minds, and their sycophants are the master interpreters of jokes just like the secret police forces in the former Communist world were the official detectors of seriousness hidden behind witty word play I wonder which of these two bizarre world concepts, both of which I have managed to experience in my own lifetime and I am not entirely methuselah aged yet , is worse for humanity Loss of freedom to massive control of mind and body Loss of accountability due to Orwellian Newspeak Joker carte blanche I am scared, and I am not joking Personal relationships are paramount in life At their best they can confirm the highest ideals we have about human life Relationships are how we learn about ourselves How we evolve, both as individuals and communities How we learn about the world around us Relationships are the most accessible source of inspiration They can bring us to our knees they can move us close to heaven Personal relationships are our sacred text, our scripture Every totalitarian state seeks to undermine the powe Personal relationships are paramount in life At their best they can confirm the highest ideals we have about human life Relationships are how we learn about ourselves How we evolve, both as individuals and communities How we learn about the world around us Relationships are the most accessible source of inspiration They can bring us to our knees they can move us close to heaven Personal relationships are our sacred text, our scripture Every totalitarian state seeks to undermine the power of personal relationships The party line takes precedence over every other consideration Early on, Ludvik is embroiled in a sexual power play with a girl he fancies He s irritated by her earnest piety towards a Czech national hero a resistance fighter who was murdered by the Nazis He writes her a postcard with a facetious remark about this man Soon, he is on trial A friend of his adjudicates his case, finds him guilty and he is banished from the Communist party, the university and sent for political re education The postcard, in his eyes, was nothingthan a joke Kundera does a good job of dramatizing the inevitable demoralisation and nihilism that a totalitarian state bleeds out, the fatal rifts in personal relationships it brings about But I tire of Kundera s relentless hostility towards pop culture, motorbikes, leather jackets, youthful posturing He just sounds like a grumpy old man full of bogus nostalgia for a reality that never existed In this novel, he gives us what he thinks of as a better alternative folk culture Frankly, this element of the novel bored me silly I also tire of his adolescent macho sexuality I ve defended him in my reviews of his later and much better novels but it s hard here Ludvik s plan for revenging himself on the friend who tried and sentenced him is to sleep with his wife The scene when this takes place is excruciating I think in all his novels there s at least one scene in which a male sexually humiliates a female Here, he goes way beyond what the plot demands in his exultant abuse of the wholly innocent female character He also provides what sounds like excerpts from a self help manual on how to seduce women which I found comically crass Kundera the womaniser, like Kundera the cultural arbiter, is a crushing bore He s not a good looking man, never was You can t help wondering if the sexual passages of his novels are some sort of cathartic fantasy in which he s able to play a sexual role, both triumphant and vindictive, he was denied in real life I ve just read Kundera snitched on someone to the communist regime which resulted in the individual spending 22 years in prison That seals it for me Milan Kundera gets my vote as the most unlikeable author out there It s almost a shame he can also be a genius she had been caught stealing flowers in a cemeteryYou know the theory which speculates that married men are way funnier than unmarried one because they have got the punchline The above joke is a test of how satisfied men are from their marriages and must never be made in presence of wives, as some husbands have imprudence to laugh on it But that is the thing about jokes You don t make something funny, funny is already in air in form of unhappy husbands it won t be funny to kids whoshe had been caught stealing flowers in a cemeteryYou know the theory which speculates that married men are way funnier than unmarried one because they have got the punchline The above joke is a test of how satisfied men are from their marriages and must never be made in presence of wives, as some husbands have imprudence to laugh on it But that is the thing about jokes You don t make something funny, funny is already in air in form of unhappy husbands it won t be funny to kids who know little about marriage , someone just discovers a way to poke at it Almost all humor is invoked by the fact that we are almost always trying hard to put up an act in one way or other when something happens which reminds us of the reason we are putting the act, laughter becomes one of many possible responses A non vegetarian joke get you at sexual impulses that you won t tell others about, the motion fails people slipping, falling down etc are funny to people who are themselves most afraid of looking silly, it is people themselves spending time on their own appearances and thus always with heavy makeup on that make fun of how others look, the people who get George Carlin s humor do so because they are themselves putting up happily with a people that they don t think are ideal I m pretty sure some big philosopher gave this theory or something similar, I can t recall who Now the thing is biggest acts humanity puts up with are five nationalism, religion, political belief systems, property, and marriage And they all prompt jokes both the good kind and the bad kind In fact, anything which can be called an institution will prompt a joke because all institutions make assumptions as to how you should perceive reality and how you should behave Religious organizations will have you believe how God created the world, political ones will have you believe how their own values are best etc Even elementary schools brush your teeth daily, take bath daily etc what is that about I don t bath for months and I m doing just fine Don t get me wrong, I m not saying one should do away with institutions but just that they kill individuality which is where hope for humanity lies just look at the idea that requirements of 30 odd different students can be met in a single class by a single teacher at the same time Personally, I believe, institutions should rather be like music instruments with different kind of notes joining together to create music, for now, they arelike trying to make all buttons create same sound Some of the members of the institution might actually believe in its one size fits all value system while others are only putting up an act Thus individuals are prompted to put an act and thus leaving opportunities of humor It goes without saying that people with power over or interests in institutions don t like humor Remember that Queen Victoria s we are not amused Of course, you aren t dear, it breaks the whole act It is like emperor s new clothes, they don t like realityNow I understood why the king s face must be veiled Not that he should not be seen, but that he should not seeAnd humor is the best way to point out the truth If rightly done, it is the second most strongest of arguments next only to silenceAll I m trying to say is that no great movement designed to change the world can bear sarcasm or mockery, because they are a rust that corrodes all it touchesSoviet Socialism which made revolution into an institution was no different from all this, onlyso telling people what to say and what to feel Our protagonist is trying to pretend that he is a good socialist, but he senses the humor in air Young as he was, it was only a matter of time before he ended up joking about it The rulers obviously weren t amused and so he is sentenced hard laborAnd I was horrified at the thought that things conceived in error are just as real as things conceived with good reason and of necessityOf course, the ones who punished him were themselves putting up an actThey stood between life and death They weren t petty If they had read my postcard, they might have laughedAndI could see nothing but actors, their faces covered by masks of cretinous virility and arrogant brutishness I found no extenuation in the thought that the masks hid anotherhuman face, since the real horror seemed to lie in the fact that the faces beneath the masks were fiercely devoted to the inhumanity and coarseness of the masksThe biggest comedian in the story though is fate who makes a joke of several people in the book thus providing a common theme to all stories.This is a lotthan a political novel Kundera manages to create parallels in personal and political lives of characters I especially liked narrator s love story at Labour camp I really liked Lucie s storywe kissed through a gap in the barbed wireA bit off the subject, but this is partially why I don t like RSS and BJP with their Hindu way of life I don t like the idea of anyone forcing any kind of lifestyle on anyone Not they aren t full of absurdities They have somehow convinced millions of people that in a country where millions of children are undernourished, women s rights are screwed, students are committing suicide we must not forget our priorities and save cows first Now try making a joke about that It is beyond humor, right Gayen Hamari mata hai, aaghe kuch nahia aata hai Cow is our mama, know nothingthan that You know what I don t understand They never seem to care about bull papas I mean, do you know how screwed the sex ratios of cattle are is Even the worst of bull papas can have a harem Why do they don t cry about that Is it father issues or what I mean holy cow that is sexist man This can go on and on But on some other day Quotesit s not your enemies who condemn you to solitude, it s your friends When it is postponed, vengeance is transformed into something deceptive, into a personal religion, into a myth that recedes day by day from the people involved, who remain the same in the myth though in reality the walkway is in constant motion they long ago became different people I merely squeezed the bottle in my palm and said to myself I m holding my death in my hand, and I was enthralled by so much opportunity, it was like going step by step to an abyss, not to jump into it, just to look down Because being brave in solitude, without witnesses, without the reward of others approbation, face to face with himself, that took great pride and strength If we looked back, we d end up like Lot s wife dog s yelp can t reach heaven it occurred to me that when we were buying clothes in the summer we had forgotten that summer would end and cold weather come I like Kundra because he doesn t imprison me in a fastened frame of a classic narration Reading Kundra seems as if you meet an old friend after ages in a cafe shop, and while she he relates her his life story, you zip your coffee, listen to the cafe music, hear some chats and laughs at nabouring tables, look at the peddlers at side walk, or a passing tramvay, as life is flowing around,I like Kundra because he doesn t imprison me in a fastened frame of a classic narration Reading Kundra seems as if you meet an old friend after ages in a cafe shop, and while she he relates her his life story, you zip your coffee, listen to the cafe music, hear some chats and laughs at nabouring tables, look at the peddlers at side walk, or a passing tramvay, as life is flowing around,1370 Let me be perfectly honest I was a man of many facesThey were all realI had several faces because I was young and didn t know who I was or wanted to beShe was constitutionally unable to look behind anything she could only see the thing itself Optimism is the opium of the people A healthy atmosphere stinks of stupidity Long live Trotsky A nihilist likes a good laugh, said one of them He laughs at people who sufferThe only human bond we had was our uncertain futureSlowly I came to realize tha Let me be perfectly honest I was a man of many facesThey were all realI had several faces because I was young and didn t know who I was or wanted to beShe was constitutionally unable to look behind anything she could only see the thing itself Optimism is the opium of the people A healthy atmosphere stinks of stupidity Long live Trotsky A nihilist likes a good laugh, said one of them He laughs at people who sufferThe only human bond we had was our uncertain futureSlowly I came to realize that there was no power capable of changing the image of my person lodged in the supreme court of human destinies Letters written by parents are messages from a shore we are forsaking all they can do is make us aware of how far we have strayed from the port we left, enveloped in the selfless devotion of our loved ones Yes, their letters say, the port still exists, it s still there in all its comforting, pristine beauty but the road back, the way back is lostNothing brings people togetherquickly and easily than shared melancholyIt s not easy to live with people willing to send you to exile or death, it s not easy to become intimate with them, it s not easy to love themAll the basic situations in life occur only onceAs it turned out, nothing was in my hands Neither our estrangement nor our reunion was in my handsSo I hope that they were in the hands of timeIn my view newspaper have one extraordinary attribute they make no noiseTheir tediousness is silent they can be put aside, thrown into the wastebasketThe tediousness of radio lacks that extenuating attribute it persecutes us in cafes, restaurants, trains, even during our visits to people who have become incapable of living without nonstop feeding of the earMy mistrust is so entrenched that when someone starts listing his likes and dislikes I am unable to take it seriously, or to put itprecisely, I can accept it only as an indication of the person s self imageOnceI was amazed by the incredible human capacity for transforming reality into a likeness of desires or idealsI longed for her to be gone for her body to dematerialize, melt, turn into a stream and flow away, or evaporate and vanish out the windowYou became bitter to the depth of your soul, convinced of the great injustice done you That sense of injustice still determines every step you takeOther people are mere walking mirrors in which he is amazed to find his own emotions, his own worthAnd this seeming unreality made me think that everything around me was not present but the pastMy entire life, it seemed to me, had always been overpopulated by shadowsWhere sorrow is not lightness, laughter is not grimace, love is not laughableWhere love is still love and pain is still pain, where values are not yet devastatedAnd it seemed to me that inside these songs I was at home Thorns Thou Sow in the Garden of the SoulI was surprisingly impressed with the depth, accessibility and enjoyability of this novel, which Kundera wrote in 1965 and it was published in 1967 and apparently played a role in the Prague Spring that year.In the early 1950s Czechoslovakia, Ludvik Jahn, a university student with a great sense of humor, was a strong supporter of the Communist regime after World War II Attempting to show his girlfriend a bit of charm and a sense of humor over the summe Thorns Thou Sow in the Garden of the SoulI was surprisingly impressed with the depth, accessibility and enjoyability of this novel, which Kundera wrote in 1965 and it was published in 1967 and apparently played a role in the Prague Spring that year.In the early 1950s Czechoslovakia, Ludvik Jahn, a university student with a great sense of humor, was a strong supporter of the Communist regime after World War II Attempting to show his girlfriend a bit of charm and a sense of humor over the summer when they are on break from classes, he wrote in a postcard to her Optimism is the opium of mankind A healthy spirit stinks of stupidity Long live Trotsky The commies had zero sense of humor, expelled him from the party, kicked him out of the university and forced him, as a dissident, to do two years of hard labor in the mines Although he eventually gains decent success in his scientific profession, he harbors a grudge against party members who were responsible for his fall from grace When he sees an opportunity to exact revenge on Zemanik who led the charge against him, Ludvik seduces Zemanik s wife and the joke may be on him, with the wife a civilian casualty I love the structure of this, Kundera s first novel, with three narrators I m not a big fan of, as in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, his carrying the reader through his writing thought processes about the possibilities as he becomes a part of the novel as author, not just narrator, which ruins my ability to temporarily suspend disbelief.For me, this novel was outstanding at revealing the truth of the human condition that redressibility of wrongs against us is just not possible, and others, including the perpetrator of the wrong, will have forgotten the misdeed anyway by the time you think you ve gotten to the point of revenge Thus one carries the poison of resentment around, as Oscar Wilde put it, as an adder in one s breast to rise up every night to sow thorns in the garden of one s soul For this and other reasons, forgiveness is one major key in life s symphony of peace and joyT o live in a world in which no one is forgiven, where all are irredeemable, is the same as living in hell The Joke There was a time when I read a lot of Milan Kundera but with the exception of The Joke they have blended together in my memory.The novel is a twist on a revenge novel like The Count of Monte Cristo There has been a wrong here too, and the perpetrator of it has moved in on the Hero s love The digging though, is part of the punishment and not a means to escape The twist is that the attempt at revenge goes awry view spoiler mind that is not much a twist really hide spoiler.What we see ins There was a time when I read a lot of Milan Kundera but with the exception of The Joke they have blended together in my memory.The novel is a twist on a revenge novel like The Count of Monte Cristo There has been a wrong here too, and the perpetrator of it has moved in on the Hero s love The digging though, is part of the punishment and not a means to escape The twist is that the attempt at revenge goes awry view spoiler mind that is not much a twist really hide spoiler.What we see instead is a series of contrasts between the plans, hopes and expectations that people lay upon those who surround them and how all of them go miss as people slip out of the roles intended for them.The last joke in the novel will amuse most those who find the idea of people taking laxatives accidentally funny what the idea doesn t make you smile, why it was only his pride that was hurt

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