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“We’ve known for a long time that it was no longer possible to overturn this world, nor reshape it, nor head off its dangerous headlong rush. There’s been only one possible resistance: to not take it seriously.”
- Milan Kundera, The Festival of Insignificance
Recently, I tried to sell my wife on the idea that the key to happiness was low expectations. The less she expected of me the happier she would be. Kundera, I'm afraid, would disagree. Or at least he would want to edit my maxim. For Kundera, the key to happiness might just be accepting our insignificance.
In this short, short novel Kundera uses the conversations of five friends (Ramon, Charles, Alain, D’Ardelo and Caliban) to explore ideas of life (jokes, despair, laughter, sex and death). In someways this novel seems like an existentialist Koan. Kundera is folding his little book up like a paper airplane, and letting it go. He is 83. He hopes he will be remembered, but ultimately, he has reached that point where he knows that even that desire is a bit absurd. Everybody dies. Most are forgotten. Only occasionally will we remember a Stalin or a why a town was named for a guy who peed his pants.
16 of 21 people found this review helpful
Kundera is still a master. This book is like all his work crystalized into this one. Together with the perfect narration it really makes a work of art. I just loved every single minute of it.