Tag Archives: Czech Literature

Privileges of Fiction (Kundera)

The space defined by Milan Kundera’s The Curtain is one that privileges the novel to an extraordinary degree, attributing it to a position distinct from not only other forms of art, but also as a reflection on existence that informs philosophical … Continue reading

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Drowsy Rambling about Kundera and Adorno

It might be that Milan Kundera’s Testaments Betrayed: An Essay in Nine Parts is one of the best books I have read on the art of the novel. I pause at the word “read,” which feels inadequate because I immerse … Continue reading

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The Well of the Past

… Thomas Mann brought his very important contribution: [ to these questions: what is an individual and wherein does his identity reside?] we think we act, we think we think, but it is another or others who think and act … Continue reading

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Suspending Moral Judgement

Suspending moral judgement is not the immorality of the novel; it is its morality. The morality that stands against the ineradicable human habit of judging instantly, ceaselessly, and everyone; of judging before, and in the absence of, understanding. From the … Continue reading

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An Unwitting Education

My education has been so unwitting I can’t quite tell which of my thoughts come from me and which from my books, but that’s how I’ve stayed attuned to myself and the world around me for the past thirty-five years. … Continue reading

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Being and Becoming

People are always shouting they want to create a better future. It’s not true. The future is an apathetic void, of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt … Continue reading

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On Rectification

Kafka liked to have his watch an hour and a half fast. Felice kept setting it right. Nonetheless for five years they almost married. He made a list of arguments for and against marriage, including inability to bear the assault … Continue reading

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The Shaping of the Self

Yesterday I alluded to Foucault’s Self Writing [PDF: Technologies of the Self/Self Writing], one of a series of studies on “the arts of oneself” that draws heavily on Greco-Roman thought, particularly that of Seneca. The illustration above depicts Seneca’s suicide (his … Continue reading

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Kafka’s Diaries 1910-1923

Nursing a bout of influenza is exhausting, but comes with compensatory advantages: the so rare privilege of sitting silently and reading for hours, with the occasional offer of tea. I have been able to complete Kafka’s Diaries 1910-1923. That Kafka … Continue reading

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The Challenge of Education

Of necessity, we despatch our children into education. I wonder how many of us, remembering our own days at school and university, share Kafka’s reproach: […] I can prove at any time that my education tried to make another person … Continue reading

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