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Laughable Loves by Milan Kundera

Laughable Loves (original 1968; edition 1999)

by Milan Kundera

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2,177122,985 (3.75)36
Title:Laughable Loves
Authors:Milan Kundera
Info:Harper Perennial (1999), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library

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Laughable Loves by Milan Kundera (1968)



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English (7)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Spanish (1)  All (12)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
One story revolved around a young professor who loves to play mind-games with people he deems inferior. After putting off reviewing the work of an aspiring (and hopeless) scholar, he loses the young woman he was involved with, directly after realizing he loved her.
There is also the story of a couple who play a role-playing game which initially excites them but then later scares one and repulses the other.
'Let the Old Dead make way for The Young Dead' is about a woman who visits her husband's grave in a cemetery only to find out that it has been removed in the favor of another grave that of a man who had died 'more recently.' This impacts upon her life as a person and is a major factor when she goes to visit a former lover.
Two stories include the character Dr. Havel. The first of which is set in the hospital with several other doctors and a nurse. Dr. Havel is known for his multitudes of sexual exploits, and the nurse is interested in him, but he rejects her. The second story takes place ten years later, when Dr. Havel feels less powerful and attractive, yet is reminded of his attractiveness by his young, beautiful wife.
There is the story of two middle-age men who flirt with many girls and proposition them. One of the men is married to a women he loves, and the other would rather read a book.
The final story is "Eduard and God", where a young man called Eduard has a religious girlfriend but he personally has to stay away from religion because of his job in a school. It makes for difficult times for him when he is seen with his girlfriend at a church.
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
This collection of short stories was my introduction to Kundera, one of the authors and thinkers about whom I’ve heard so much but whose work I hadn’t yet managed to read. Many people say that Kundera likes to use his stories as backdrops for his philosophical musings, so short stories are much more suited to this aim than novel-length work where he can over-indulge and go on for too long.

The first two stories in the collection were not an auspicious start to my first Kundera experience. One of the stories focuses on a guy whose practical joke, if you will, goes a bit awry, and the other one introduces us to a man and an older woman who meet on the street years after their one-time fling. I liked nothing about them. The language seemed automaton-like, unnatural and not poetic at all. The stories themselves didn’t seem to have much of a point and were boring. I couldn’t detect any sharp psychological analysis that people kept saying Kundera was known for.

The only reason I kept on reading instead of abandoning it was because it moved fairly quickly, and I held out hope that maybe the other stories would be better. Good thing I did so. Starting with the third story and onward to the last one, the stories seemed to liven up for me. I’m not sure if this was because I gradually got used to Kundera’s style; maybe it really did just have to do with how specific stories resonated more with me. Sure, the language was still pretty average, but the ideas behind the stories tickled my brain and I found myself flipping page after page, smiling as each character demonstrated their foibles, played mind games on each other for kicks, deluded themselves away from certain truths, or awakened to how the effects of aging were disrupting their sense of self. Kundera is able to articulate/capture people’s psyche in such a precise way that a light bulb kept going off in my head.

So in the end, enjoying five out of seven stories is a pretty good record for a short story collection. Overall though, if this is indicative of Kundera’s style, then my reading preferences and his style aren’t quite a good fit. But I’m glad that I dipped into a bit of his work at least.
( )
  Samchan | Mar 31, 2013 |
It's been many many years since I read any Kundera, and many many years since this original Writers from the Other Europe edition landed on my TBR. I remember really liking the works by Kundera I read back in the 80s?/90s, but I had mixed feelings about this early volume of short stories, all focused on the sexual games people play. Some I found disturbing, such as "The Hitchhiking Game," in which a role-playing game goes a little too psychologically far, "Let the Old Dead Make Way for the New Dead," in which the lead male character ponders whether it's better to have a delightful memory or a less delightful reality, and "Symposium," a multi-voiced tale with some largely thoughtless cruelty. Some I found playful and thought-provoking, such as "Nobody Will Laugh," about a man who starts out playing a largely innocent joke which then spirals out of control, "Doctor Havel in Ten Years," which shows how our state of mind can affect reality, and "Edward and God," which satirizes both religion and atheism while showing what happens to a character who pretends belief to get a girl. The only one that I found both fun and charming, and my favorite (maybe because of the mood I'm in!) was "The Golden Apple of Continuing Desire," in which the chase is all.

In these stories, Kundera explores not only the largely male sexual psyche but also the implications of playing jokes or pretending to be someone else, probing identity. That's the part I appreciated. I also can't help but feel that some of the obsession of the characters with chasing (and getting) women helps relieve some of the political repression they are subject too (although this is almost, but not entirely, off stage in these stories). Of course Kundera has always focused on sex, mixed with philosophy, which I guess makes the sex high-minded. I think what I'm saying is that I liked Kundera better when I was younger.
4 vote rebeccanyc | Mar 12, 2013 |
Another fascinating, funny & intelligent book by Kundera. Very imaginative philosophically, & what I disliked about BofL&F - the odd mix of sex & philosophising - works better here, as laughable loves are the them. This edition has a very good introductory essay by Philip Roth. ( )
  marek2009 | Sep 20, 2009 |
When Auster's three stories were grouped together to form "The New York Trilogy," each one added something to the other. This is exactly the case with Kundera's excellent collection of tales of lust, love, confusion, misunderstanding, and the search for happiness. The spirit of Prague is wonderfully captured, and the whole feels so bohemian and wise. Is it possible to love one person more than another - or to love one book more than another? - and then still love at all? ( )
1 vote soylentgreen23 | Jan 8, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (28 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kundera, Milanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beranová, JanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rappaport, SuzanneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roth, PhilipIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The needle on the gas gauge suddenly dipped toward empty and the young driver of the sports car declared that it was maddening how much gas the car ate up.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060997036, Paperback)

Milan Kundera is a master of graceful illusion and illuminating surprise. In one of these stories a young man and his girlfriend pretend that she is a stranger he picked up on the road--only to become strangers to each other in reality as their game proceeds. In another a teacher fakes piety in order to seduce a devout girl, then jilts her and yearns for God. In yet another girls wait in bars, on beaches, and on station platforms for the same lover, a middle-aged Don Juan who has gone home to his wife. Games, fantasies, and schemes abound in all the stories while different characters react in varying ways to the sudden release of erotic impulses.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:28 -0400)

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