Emre Erg Erg itibaren Malaya Tumna, Krasnoyarskiy kray, Rusya, 662367
I think this book is very highly affected by the time period that it comes from. And I don't just mean that in terms of it's framing and context, but in terms of it's style and the questions that it tackles. I think Kundera attacks you over and over again with his points and images until they sound like dogma, much in the same way that the communist party was fond of doing. This book was published in 1984, before Gorbachev took power and instituted reforms, so I can see him attempting to make a real political point to his audience. The problem that I have with that is the same one that I have with George Bernard Shaw, who writes prefaces and essays to his plays that are longer than the works themselves. There is obviously art to his work, but it is detracted from by the formula he's set for himself and by the points he feels the need to state over and over. It is to the detriment of his writing. I think perhaps he did not have enough faith in his readers, and would rather they heard his point rather than the beauty of his prose. But I think that it is a terrible waste, because he is capable of some truly lovely phrasing and metaphors. His points were well taken, and thoughtful, but I am personally less inclined to ponder messages when they are pummelled at me. Despite all that, again, I do love some bits of his writing, the questions he introduces are important and interesting and things I've never thought of before. Also, as a student of European history, it was an interesting study in the mind of someone raised in the communist era. For people who really enjoy this style and subject I'd also recommend reading Czeslaw Milosz's The Captive Mind, which explores the reasons why communist artists cooperated with the regime. That one is not a novel, more of an essay, but he details the lives of four authors within it, so it can feel like a novel.
Not an easy read, this book has a pervasive feeling of doom throughout. Well crafted.