That the novelistic profession of Milan Kundera (Brno, 1929-Paris, 2023) started with a guide entitled The joke, through which he recounts how a person’s life finally ends up changing into a horror due to a joke, was a declaration of intent with which the writer anticipated the problems he handled all through his life. The picture of terror and the picture of the comedian continuously coincide within the work of the lately deceased Czech author as the strategy to analyze the good paradoxes of modernity. For as Kundera himself made clear in his essays and interviews, his aim as a novelist was by no means merely to painting a given regime—the totalitarian practices of Stalinism in his native Czechoslovakia, the place jokes weren’t tolerated— , however to discover common human habits.
With this formidable intention, Kundera established a conjunctive relationship between the novel and philosophy. in his essays The artwork of the novel (1986), The Betrayed Wills (1992) or The curtain (2005) there are considerable references to Heideggerian phenomenology and existentialism. But additionally in his novels the affect of philosophy is perceived, as when in The Insufferable Lightness of Being (1984) refers back to the concept of the everlasting return of Friedrich Nietzsche. “In his work there’s a dialogue with European philosophy, each explicitly (…) and not directly via reflection on questions and matters historically handled by philosophy, reminiscent of the development of the self or the motivations of human motion” , says Iris Llop, PhD in Principle of Literature with the thesis The data of the unsure. Kundera reader of Broch, Musil and Kafka (The data of uncertainty. Kundera, reader of Broch, Musil and Kafka).
The Czech author is impressed by philosophy to develop a broader concept of the novel, which he defines as that which is geared toward defending up to date societies “towards the forgetfulness of being.” This time period clearly refers back to the work being and time (1927), by Martin Heidegger, the place the German thinker displays on how fashionable thought induced by positivism has uncared for to check what’s correct to being. Following this line, Kundera lastly establishes that “the novel doesn’t look at actuality, however existence.”
If the Trendy Period begins with the person changing into conscious of their capability to intervene on the planet and, due to this fact, in historical past, Kundera questions in his writings the deterministic conception of historical past that also survives in European philosophy (and in Marxism). ) as a residue of metaphysics, and based on which historical past all the time progresses and human actions should be oriented in the direction of this finish.
However the deliberate renunciation of the certainties of historical past results in the situation of fixed mental exile —exile that in Kundera can be bodily. On this method, Kundera may be positioned within the custom of metaphysical pessimism insofar as he portrays the human being as an uprooted being and the skin world as a entice —within the first chapters of The joke He writes that “Optimism is the opium of the folks!”, as a rebel towards the imposed pleasure.
At this level, nevertheless, we should pause to renew Kundera’s declare to humor. in his essay The Betrayed Wills says: “Humor will not be an immemorial apply of man; it’s an invention linked to the beginning of the novel”. Up up to now humor and the novel are united for him.
“Kundera says that our world is a world of uprooting”, factors out Barrios, “so this lightness of being could appear insufferable and thus fall into nihilism; or else you be taught to bear the insufferable, and assume lightness”. In different phrases, for Kundera crucial factor is to just accept the tragic situation of life as it’s. And for this, there isn’t any higher instrument than the usage of irony.
This truth leads the Kunderian syllogism to its ultimate conclusion: if the novel anticipates the fact of being, it’s as a result of it factors out that that is the absence of common truths. “Kundera considers that the data of the novel is hypothetical, he doesn’t pursue a certainty or an absolute reality, however maintains the fixed questioning of existence and, due to this fact, he mistrusts common truths”, based on Llop.
The autumn of those nice truths, which within the twentieth century was known as the tip of nice tales, plunged philosophical thought right into a context of negativity and a bent in the direction of nihilism. And it’s on this context of mental melancholy that Kundera’s fondness for the novel turns into extra related. Confronted with the pure negativity that may very well be noticed in different tendencies essential of enlightened modernity such because the Frankfurt College, or the easy temptation to fall into existential malaise, the Czech author clings to the important situation that has prevailed within the novelistic custom. from Cervantes: humor.
It’s on this strategy to the contradictions of modernity the place Kundera separates from the up to date philosophical custom that begins with Husserl’s phenomenology and continues with Heidegger’s interpretation of it, which concludes that being is mainly a being- for-death. “In The Insufferable Lightness of Being, a piece of full maturity, combines the essential side, denunciation and nonconformity with the inherited historic scenario, with a mirrored image of way more existential depth”, concludes Barrios, who acknowledges within the Czech author the affect of Husserlian phenomenology. “Husserl nonetheless had a Cartesian streak of searching for the homogeneous common, in Kundera universalism is extra advanced, so it’s a extra mature modernity that he’s proposing in his tales: that of up to date man who can escape”.