Description

“An elegant, personalized integration of anecdote, analysis, scholarship, memory and speculation. . . . Not since Henry James, perhaps, has a fiction writer examined the process of writing with such insight, authority and range of reference and allusion.” —Russell Banks, New York Times Book Review

“A magic curtain, woven of legends, hung before the world. Cervantes sent Don Quixote journeying and tore through the curtain. The world opened before the knight-errant in all the comical nakedness of its prose.”

In this thought-provoking, endlessly enlightening, and entertaining essay on the art of the novel, renowned author Milan Kundera suggests that “the curtain” represents a ready-made perception of the world that each of us has—a pre-interpreted world. The job of the novelist, he argues, is to rip through the curtain and reveal what it hides.

Here an incomparable literary artist cleverly sketches out his personal view of the history and value of the novel in Western civilization. In doing so, he celebrates a prose form that possesses the unique ability to transcend national and language boundaries in order to reveal some previously unknown aspect of human existence.

About the author(s)

The Franco-Czech novelist Milan Kundera (1929 - 2023) was born in Brno and lived in France, his second homeland, since 1975. He is the author of the novels The Joke, Life Is Elsewhere, Farewell Waltz, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Immortality, and the short story collection Laughable Loves—all originally in Czech. His later novels, Slowness, Identity, Ignorance, and The Festival of Insignificance, as well as his nonfiction works, The Art of the Novel, Testaments Betrayed, The Curtain, and Encounter, were originally written in French.

Reviews

“An elegant, personalized integration of anecdote, analysis, scholarship, memory and speculation. . . . Not since Henry James, perhaps, has a fiction writer examined the process of writing with such insight, authority and range of reference and allusion. . . Kundera’s opinions, reflections, memories and desires are well worth listening to.” — New York Times Book Review

“A work of sophisticated literary cartography. . . agreeably studded with insights.” — Wall Street Journal

“Essential reading in a long history of debates about the genre. . . . Wise, deep, and witty.” — New York Review of Books

“Kundera…argues brilliantly…Discarding chronology, [he] lets us witness the inner workings of his....wonderful reader’s mind.” — Cecile Alduy, San Francisco Chronicle

“As the French expression goes, Kundera always gives you furiously to think…[He] writes…with passion.” — Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World

“Lovely, meandering observations on the genre to which he has consecrated his life. . . . Like good love stories, it pulls you in.” — Philadelphia Inquirer

“Kundera offers witty and edifying improvisations on…favorite themes…Anyone interested in the novel will delight in this book.” — Alec Solomita, New York Sun

“Well-worth reading. . . witty and brisk and very smart, like all of [Kundera’s] writing.” — William Deresiewicz, The Nation

“A swiftly told, beautifully crafted, pleasurable. . . scrutiny of the novel. . . . To Mr. Kundera, the novel is a liberating force.” — The Economist

“Bursting at the seams with ideas. . . Kundera dashes irrepressibly around his own studio. . . to consistently fascinating effect. A rare pleasure.” — Steven Poole, New Statesman

“Kundera is assuredly one of the great living writers. . . . This is a remarkable book. . . . Absorbing and sometimes sublime.” — Buffalo News

“Brilliant, vehement, learned and wise…Stimulating and provocative…THE CURTAIN raises essential questions.” — Salon.com

“Kundera’s essay so perfectly distilles an approach to art that it realigns the way an art form is understood.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Evocative...Kundera marvelously conducts us on a journey through the history of the novel.” — Library Journal

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