Laughable Loves: Revised Edition

by Milan Kundera

Paperback, 1988





Penguin Books (1988), Edition: Reprint, 256 pages


This is a collection of short stories that first appeared in Prague before 1968, but was then banned. The seven stories are concerned with love, or rather with the complex erotic games which people play as they try to come to terms with their needs.

User reviews

LibraryThing member kattepusen
I just came across this collection of short stories, and as a devoted Kundera fan, I quickly devoured it amidst Christmas preparations, letter writings and other more dreary readings. And what a delight! This is early Bohemian Kundera, written while he still lived in then Czechoslovakia, and it is quite evident that he has not yet matured into the thoroughly seasoned writer that produced masterpieces such as "Life is Elsewhere", "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" and "Immortality". However, this is unmistakenly literary genius in the making, and the mood throughout is simply captivating.

The themes all deal with aspects of human sexuality - mostly from a Man's view. The stories have a raw sense of humanity to them - sometimes it can be uncomfortable reading; however, it has an undeniably tender undercurrent. Even when a character behaves despicably, I remained sympathtic with the human behind the actions. It just feels irresistably honest, and it is quite easy to get seduced by such well-portrayed human complexities.

Among my favorite stories were "The Old Dead Must Make Room for the New Dead", which portrays the dilemma of whether to preserve a diffuse, but beatiful sensual memory or replace it with a graphic, but uglier version that will ultimately erase the former. "Edward and God" is another gem that deals with sexual longing and the fickleness of Religion (Atheism is cleverly presented just as irrational in its dogmatisms as Christianity).
Finally "The Hitchhiking Game" is a classic portrayal of how easily perceptions can be irreversibly altered.

I highly recommend this short-story collection; however, if you are reading Milan Kundera for the first time, I am tempted to recommened one of his more famous works...
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LibraryThing member soylentgreen23
When Auster's three stories were grouped together to form "The New York Trilogy," each one added something to the other. This is exactly the case with Kundera's excellent collection of tales of lust, love, confusion, misunderstanding, and the search for happiness. The spirit of Prague is wonderfully captured, and the whole feels so bohemian and wise. Is it possible to love one person more than another - or to love one book more than another? - and then still love at all?… (more)
LibraryThing member Samchan
This collection of short stories was my introduction to Kundera, one of the authors and thinkers about whom I’ve heard so much but whose work I hadn’t yet managed to read. Many people say that Kundera likes to use his stories as backdrops for his philosophical musings, so short stories are much more suited to this aim than novel-length work where he can over-indulge and go on for too long.

The first two stories in the collection were not an auspicious start to my first Kundera experience. One of the stories focuses on a guy whose practical joke, if you will, goes a bit awry, and the other one introduces us to a man and an older woman who meet on the street years after their one-time fling. I liked nothing about them. The language seemed automaton-like, unnatural and not poetic at all. The stories themselves didn’t seem to have much of a point and were boring. I couldn’t detect any sharp psychological analysis that people kept saying Kundera was known for.

The only reason I kept on reading instead of abandoning it was because it moved fairly quickly, and I held out hope that maybe the other stories would be better. Good thing I did so. Starting with the third story and onward to the last one, the stories seemed to liven up for me. I’m not sure if this was because I gradually got used to Kundera’s style; maybe it really did just have to do with how specific stories resonated more with me. Sure, the language was still pretty average, but the ideas behind the stories tickled my brain and I found myself flipping page after page, smiling as each character demonstrated their foibles, played mind games on each other for kicks, deluded themselves away from certain truths, or awakened to how the effects of aging were disrupting their sense of self. Kundera is able to articulate/capture people’s psyche in such a precise way that a light bulb kept going off in my head.

So in the end, enjoying five out of seven stories is a pretty good record for a short story collection. Overall though, if this is indicative of Kundera’s style, then my reading preferences and his style aren’t quite a good fit. But I’m glad that I dipped into a bit of his work at least.
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LibraryThing member Firewild
Amazing insight into human nature. The story about the two hitchhikers is amazing.
LibraryThing member marek2009
Another fascinating, funny & intelligent book by Kundera. Very imaginative philosophically, & what I disliked about BofL&F - the odd mix of sex & philosophising - works better here, as laughable loves are the them. This edition has a very good introductory essay by Philip Roth.


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