Reading With Kundera

From The New York Times:

The Curtain: An essay in seven parts. By Milan Kundera.Book_22

Milan Kundera (who writes these days in French) is perhaps the best, certainly the best-known, Czech fiction writer since Kafka (who was arguably more German than Czech anyway). This is his third book-length meditation on the novel, all three translated with precision and grace by Linda Asher. And while there is a fair amount of overlap and repetition in “The Curtain,” “The Art of the Novel” (1988) and “Testaments Betrayed” (1995), it’s due more to the consistency of Kundera’s approach to reading and writing fiction and the persistence of certain literary preferences and prejudices — his literary values — than to an inability to move on. It’s also due to his belief that reading and writing novels, from Cervantes to Rushdie, is a way of thinking that is essential for a coherent moral understanding of human nature and circumstance.

In Kundera’s hands, however, the bagginess of the form is appropriate. The book’s aphoristic, often flatly declarative style (Kundera has strong opinions on everything, from E. M. Cioran’s youthful flirtation with fascism to the difference between foolishness and stupidity) allows for an elegant, personalized integration of anecdote, analysis, scholarship, memory and speculation.

More here.