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The curtain : an essay in seven parts von…
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The curtain : an essay in seven parts (Original 2005; 2006. Auflage)

von Milan Kundera

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"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.… (mehr)
Mitglied:goblyn27
Titel:The curtain : an essay in seven parts
Autoren:Milan Kundera
Info:New York : HarperCollins Publishers, c2006.
Sammlungen:Deine Bibliothek
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Tags:HC, 1st ed

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Der Vorhang von Milan Kundera (2005)

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Kundera's book-length essay on the novel is provocative and playful while also delving into heady thematic territory and bringing his own experience as an emigrant and a writer. Of particular interest was the way art is considered within a given cultural context and outside of that context, he uses the example of French works, and the necessity of history in appreciation of a novel's significance today.
  b.masonjudy | Apr 3, 2020 |
> Ce livre de Milan Kundera est avant tout un essai sur l’art du roman, sur l’histoire du roman en tant qu’évolution de l’esthétisme. Mais pour bien saisir toute la portée de ce qu’est un roman, il « faut déchirer le rideau de la préinterprétation, ce voile tissé de pseudo-vérités, de préjugés ».C’est en compagnie de Cervantes, Rabelais, Broch, Musil, Kafka, Fuentes Fielding que Kundera questionne l’éthique du roman, sa morale (ou plutôt non-morale), sa capacité d’allé dans « l’âme des choses »…Mais plus important encore en ce début du XXIe siècle, ce livre, reprenant le flambeau laissez par Goethe, ce veux un plaidoyer pour une « weltliteratur » - une littérature mondiale - ou chaque roman serait interprété dans un « grand contexte » lui-même tributaire d’une vaste histoire mondiale de la littérature, s’opposant ainsi au « petit contexte » que constitue une littérature nationale…
Extrait : « Appliquée à l’art, la notion d’histoire n’a rien à voir avec le progrès; elle n’implique ni un perfectionnement, ni une amélioration, ni une progression. Elle est plutôt un voyage entrepris pour explorer des terres inconnues et les inscrire sur une carte. L’ambition du romancier n’est pas de faire mieux que ses prédécesseurs, mais de voir ce qu’ils n’ont pas vu, de dire ce qu’ils n’ont pas dit. La poétique de Flaubert ne dément pas celle de Balzac, de même que la découverte du pôle Nord n’annule pas celle de l’Amérique.» «Une œuvre d’art peut être située dans deux contextes essentiels: soit dans celui de son histoire nationale (ou petit contexte), soit dans celui de l’histoire internationale de l’art (ou grand contexte). Nous sommes habitués à considérer la musique, tout naturellement, dans le grand contexte. […] Au contraire, parce que le roman est lié à la langue, il est étudié dans presque toutes les universités du monde dans son petit contexte national. […] Le sentiment de possession qu’éprouve une nation à l’égard de ses artistes est comme un terrorisme du petit contexte, qui réduit le sens d’une œuvre au rôle qu’elle joue dans son propre pays. » --Joel Simard, Montreal (ICI.Radio-Canada.ca)

> « Le rideau » Essai en sept parties, de Milan KUNDERA (Gallimard, Paris, 2005, 197 p.)
Se reporter à la critique de Jean-Paul BEAUMIER
In: (2005). Compte rendu de [Essai]. Nuit blanche, (101), p. 42… ; (en ligne),
URL : https://id.erudit.org/iderudit/19126ac

> Milan Kundera LE RIDEAU Paris, Gallimard, 2005, 200 p., 16,90 €
Se reporter au compte rendu de Christian Lequesne
In: Revue Esprit No. 316 (7) (Juillet 2005), pp. 262-264… ; (en ligne),
URL : https://esprit.presse.fr/article/christian-lequesne/milan-kundera-le-rideau-7764

> Kundera, Milan. LE RIDEAU. Paris: Gallimard, 2005. ISBN: 2-07-077435-X. Pp. 197. 16,90 €.
Se reporter au compte rendu de Alexandre THILTGES
In: The French Review, Vol. 80, No. 2 (Dec., 2006), pp. 491-492… ; (en ligne),
URL : https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Dc-9Aryjb5nXGGYOf_sWncL9YH0AiPnp/view?usp=shari...
  Joop-le-philosophe | Jan 25, 2019 |

Robert Musil Literature Museum in Klagenfurt, Austria - French street-artist Jef Aérosol did these three spray-paint portraits: Christine Lavant (left), Ingeborg Bachmann (middle) and Robert Musil (right). All three authors are represented with their own exhibits in the museum. Robert Musil is one of the authors Milan Kundera most admired.

This slim work of less than two hundred pages contains dozens and dozens and dozens of sharp insights on the art of the novel and how a novel and the novelist relate to society, culture and history. Over the last few weeks I have reread Milan Kundera’s words (and listened to the audio book) and have gained a deeper appreciation with each reading and listening. As a way of sharing a small taste of the author’s reflections, below are direct quotes from the book along with my comments:

“In Tom Jones, Fielding suddenly interrupts himself in mid-narrative to declare that he is dumbfounded by one of the characters, whose behavior the writer finds “the most unaccountable of all the absurdities which ever entered into the brain of that strange prodigious creature man”; in fact, astonishment at the “inexplicable” in “that strange creature man” is for Fielding the prime incitement to writing a novel, the reason for inventing it.” --------- Milan Kundera goes on to emphasize one of the great beauties of the novel is how an author can explore through digressions beyond a simple storyline, forever discovering various aspects of character and plot, mood and setting by things like letters, diaries, poems, anecdotes, philosophic reflections, even a segue to speak directly to the reader. Yes! I recall reading a novel by the Brazilian author Ignacio de Loyola Brandão where he breaks from the story to tell me, the reader, that he doesn’t like the way his main character is acting at this point in the scene. The overarching idea: according to Milan Kundera, think twice before applying rules to what the novel can and can’t do.

“Applied to art, the notion of history has nothing to do with progress; it does not imply improvement, amelioration, an ascent; it resembles a journey undertaken to explore unknown lands and chart them. The novelist’s ambition is not to do something better than his predecessors but to see what they did not see, say what they did not say.” ---------- I recall Georges Perec’s words, how books by authors he loved were like pieces of a puzzle but there were still spaces between the pieces and those were the spaces where he could write. Indeed, Georges, the arts are not the hard sciences; to write a novel worth reading, a novelist is required to have two qualities about all else: expanded vision and uniqueness of voice.

“Art isn’t there to be some great mirror registering all of History’s ups and downs, variations, endless repetitions. Art is not a village band marching dutifully along at History’s heels. It is there to create its own history. What will ultimately remain of Europe is not its repetitive history, which in itself represents no value. The one thing that has some chance of enduring is the history of the arts.” ----------Ars longa, vita brevis. A novel is not a history report; a novel creates its own reality, a gateway to deep truths about ourselves and the life around us. As by way of example, recall the countless times you have heard events and happenings referred to as “Kafkaesque.”


Witold Gombrowiz (1904-1969) from Poland, according to Milan Kundera and many others, among the greatest novelists of the 20th century. His most widely read novel is Ferdydurke.

“What distinguishes the small nations from the large is not the quantitative criterion of the number of their inhabitants; it is something deeper: for them their existence is not a self-evident certainty but always a question, a wager, a risk; they are on the defensive against History, that force that is bigger than they, that does not take them into consideration, that does not even notice them. (“It is only by opposing History as such that we can oppose today’s history,” Witold Gombrowicz wrote.)” ---------- One wonders if Witold Gombrowicz’s novels would have been better known if he was from a major country, say, if he had been an Englishman writing in English or a Frenchman writing in French or a Russian writing in Russian. Same thing goes for other novelists from small European countries: Robert Musil and Hermann Broch from Austria, for example.

“And yet Rabelais, ever undervalued by his compatriots, was never better understood than by a Russian, Bakhtin, Dostoyevsky than by a Frenchman, Gide; Ibsen than by an Irishman, Shaw; Joyce than by an Austrian, Broch. The universal importance of the generation of great North Americans – Hemingway, Faulkner, Dos Passos – was first brought to light by French writers. These few examples are not bizarre exceptions to the rule; no, they are the rules: geographic distance sets the observer back from the local context and allows him to embrace the large context of world literature, the only approach that can bring out a novel’s aesthetic value – that is to say: the previously unseen aspects of existence that this particular novel has managed to make clear; the novelty of form it has found.” ---------- And Milan Kundera notes how those great authors have had their keenest, most perceptive and sympathetic readers reading their work in translation! A personal note: Being a typical monolingual American myself, Kundera’s observations give me some hope.


Austrian novelist Hermann Broch (1886-1951) - Milan Kundera considers Broch's novel trilogy, The Sleepwalkers, one of the most brilliant literary achievements in all of Europe.

“To emphasize; novelistic thinking, as Broch and Musil brought it into the aesthetic of the modern novel, has nothing to do with the thinking of a scientist or a philosopher; I would even say it is purposely a-philosophic, even anti-philosophic, that is to say fiercely independent of any system of preconceived ideas; it does not judge; it does not proclaim truths; it questions, it marvels, it plumbs; its form is highly diverse; metaphoric, ironic, hypothetic, hyperbolic, aphoristic, droll, provocative, fanciful; and mainly it never leaves the magic circle of its characters’ lives; those lives feed it and justify it.” ---------- A novel explores character and life on its own terms, unbound by system, philosophic or otherwise. That “on its own terms” is the difference that makes all the difference.

“Alas, miracles do not endure for long. What takes flight will one day come to earth. In anguish I imagine a time when art shall cease to seek out the never-said and will go docilely back into the service of the collective life that requires it to render repetition beautiful and help the individual merge at peace and with joy, into the uniformity of being. For the history of art is perishable. The babble of art is eternal.” ---------- Sorry to say, if you want to hear a number of the greatest 20th century composers, Phillip Glass or Iannis Xenakis, for example, you will have to make a serious individual effort. However, few are the people on the globe who can escape the constant blare of pop music, Muzak and commercial jingles. Many are the forces to make sure the babble of art is eternal.

( )
  Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |


Robert Musil Literature Museum in Klagenfurt, Austria - French street-artist Jef Aérosol did these three spray-paint portraits: Christine Lavant (left), Ingeborg Bachmann (middle) and Robert Musil (right). All three authors are represented with their own exhibits in the museum. Robert Musil is one of the authors Milan Kundera most admired.

This slim work of less than two hundred pages contains dozens and dozens and dozens of sharp insights on the art of the novel and how a novel and the novelist relate to society, culture and history. Over the last few weeks I have reread Milan Kundera’s words (and listened to the audio book) and have gained a deeper appreciation with each reading and listening. As a way of sharing a small taste of the author’s reflections, below are direct quotes from the book along with my comments:

“In Tom Jones, Fielding suddenly interrupts himself in mid-narrative to declare that he is dumbfounded by one of the characters, whose behavior the writer finds “the most unaccountable of all the absurdities which ever entered into the brain of that strange prodigious creature man”; in fact, astonishment at the “inexplicable” in “that strange creature man” is for Fielding the prime incitement to writing a novel, the reason for inventing it.” ---------- Milan Kundera goes on to emphasize one of the great beauties of the novel is how an author can explore through digressions beyond a simple storyline, forever discovering various aspects of character and plot, mood and setting by things like letters, diaries, poems, anecdotes, philosophic reflections, even a segue to speak directly to the reader. Yes! I recall reading a novel by the Brazilian author Ignacio de Loyola Brandão where he breaks from the story to tell me, the reader, that he doesn’t like the way his main character is acting at this point in the scene. The overarching idea: according to Milan Kundera, think twice before applying rules to what the novel can and can’t do.

“Applied to art, the notion of history has nothing to do with progress; it does not imply improvement, amelioration, an ascent; it resembles a journey undertaken to explore unknown lands and chart them. The novelist’s ambition is not to do something better than his predecessors but to see what they did not see, say what they did not say.” ---------- I recall Georges Perec’s words, how books by authors he loved were like pieces of a puzzle but there were still spaces between the pieces and those were the spaces where he could write. Indeed, Georges, the arts are not the hard sciences; to write a novel worth reading, a novelist is required to have two qualities about all else: expanded vision and uniqueness of voice.

“Art isn’t there to be some great mirror registering all of History’s ups and downs, variations, endless repetitions. Art is not a village band marching dutifully along at History’s heels. It is there to create its own history. What will ultimately remain of Europe is not its repetitive history, which in itself represents no value. The one thing that has some chance of enduring is the history of the arts.” ----------Ars longa, vita brevis. A novel is not a history report; a novel creates its own reality, a gateway to deep truths about ourselves and the life around us. As by way of example, recall the countless times you have heard events and happenings referred to as “Kafkaesque.”


Witold Gombrowiz (1904-1969) from Poland, according to Milan Kundera and many others, among the greatest novelists of the 20th century. His most widely read novel is Ferdydurke.

“What distinguishes the small nations from the large is not the quantitative criterion of the number of their inhabitants; it is something deeper: for them their existence is not a self-evident certainty but always a question, a wager, a risk; they are on the defensive against History, that force that is bigger than they, that does not take them into consideration, that does not even notice them. (“It is only by opposing History as such that we can oppose today’s history,” Witold Gombrowicz wrote.)” ---------- One wonders if Witold Gombrowicz’s novels would have been better known if he was from a major country, say, if he had been an Englishman writing in English or a Frenchman writing in French or a Russian writing in Russian. Same thing goes for other novelists from small European countries: Robert Musil and Hermann Broch from Austria, for example.

“And yet Rabelais, ever undervalued by his compatriots, was never better understood than by a Russian, Bakhtin, Dostoyevsky than by a Frenchman, Gide; Ibsen than by an Irishman, Shaw; Joyce than by an Austrian, Broch. The universal importance of the generation of great North Americans – Hemingway, Faulkner, Dos Passos – was first brought to light by French writers. These few examples are not bizarre exceptions to the rule; no, they are the rules: geographic distance sets the observer back from the local context and allows him to embrace the large context of world literature, the only approach that can bring out a novel’s aesthetic value – that is to say: the previously unseen aspects of existence that this particular novel has managed to make clear; the novelty of form it has found.” ---------- And Milan Kundera notes how those great authors have had their keenest, most perceptive and sympathetic readers reading their work in translation! A personal note: Being a typical monolingual American myself, Kundera’s observations give me some hope.


Austrian novelist Hermann Broch (1886-1951) - Milan Kundera considers Broch's novel trilogy, The Sleepwalkers, one of the most brilliant literary achievements in all of Europe.

“To emphasize; novelistic thinking, as Broch and Musil brought it into the aesthetic of the modern novel, has nothing to do with the thinking of a scientist or a philosopher; I would even say it is purposely a-philosophic, even anti-philosophic, that is to say fiercely independent of any system of preconceived ideas; it does not judge; it does not proclaim truths; it questions, it marvels, it plumbs; its form is highly diverse; metaphoric, ironic, hypothetic, hyperbolic, aphoristic, droll, provocative, fanciful; and mainly it never leaves the magic circle of its characters’ lives; those lives feed it and justify it.” ---------- A novel explores character and life on its own terms, unbound by system, philosophic or otherwise. That “on its own terms” is the difference that makes all the difference.

“Alas, miracles do not endure for long. What takes flight will one day come to earth. In anguish I imagine a time when art shall cease to seek out the never-said and will go docilely back into the service of the collective life that requires it to render repetition beautiful and help the individual merge at peace and with joy, into the uniformity of being. For the history of art is perishable. The babble of art is eternal.” ---------- Sorry to say, if you want to hear a number of the greatest 20th century composers, Phillip Glass or Iannis Xenakis, for example, you will have to make a serious individual effort. However, few are the people on the globe who can escape the constant blare of pop music, Muzak and commercial jingles. Many are the forces to make sure the babble of art is eternal.

( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
Kundera a peut-être perdu la main pour la création littéraire proprement dite, mais il reste selon moi le plus grand théoricien contemporain de la littérature. ( )
  dinabeb | Sep 21, 2009 |
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Kundera, MilanHauptautoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Asher, LindaÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Keynäs, VilleÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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"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.

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