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Laughable Loves (1968)

by Milan Kundera

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2,589154,355 (3.76)38
This is a collection of short stories that first appeared in Prague before 1968, but was then banned. The seven stories are concerned with love, or rather with the complex erotic games which people play as they try to come to terms with their needs.

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» See also 38 mentions

English (9)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
kurzgeschichten ( )
  roflkopf | Jan 14, 2021 |
Amazing insight into human nature. The story about the two hitchhikers is amazing. ( )
  Firewild | Jan 3, 2019 |
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 |
كونديرا لا يكتب كتاباً، يصنع قطعة حلوى شهية، لا تخذلك كلّ مرة .
خلال ثلاثة ساعات ، انتهيت منه ، والترجمة رائعة جداً : )
كل مرة أعود لقراءته منذ الخلود، يبهرني التقاطه لحكايات لم أمر بها من قبل ، كونديرا كاتب يغوص في العمق لا يكتفي باختبار المياه أبداً .

( )
  ihanq | Dec 7, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (22 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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This is a collection of short stories that first appeared in Prague before 1968, but was then banned. The seven stories are concerned with love, or rather with the complex erotic games which people play as they try to come to terms with their needs.

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