Friday, 7 April 2017

The Festival of Insignificance

After a long time, I've just got back to Milan Kundera with The Festival of Insignificance. Here are some thoughts: 
Reading "The Festival of Insignificance" now, after a very long time since I touched anything by Kundera, or anything postmodern.
Is it just me or this novel is lacking something, Phan Quỳnh Trâm?
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Phan Quỳnh Trâm This book is very different from Kundera's earlier books like Immortality, The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, The Book of Laugher and Forgetting.... It's the mundane, the meaningless, a story without narrative, that is the "meaning" of The Festival of Insignificance". The title speaks for itself. Many readers who were used to the old style could not stand it, but honestly, I like it. Maybe because I read it when I was in the right mental state for it.
Di Nguyen Is it a novel of ideas?
Phan Quỳnh Trâm The idea is there's no idea at all 

The suicide chapter in "The Festival of Insignificance" is so cold and matter-of-fact and seemingly random, it's devoid of humanity.

Finished reading "The Festival of Insignificance".
Lots of interesting bits, but I think it lacks something, Phan Quỳnh Trâm. Not just a coherent narrative, but a sense of wholeness, perhaps? And I feel it lacks life. Or am I too used to Tolstoy and Melville and Jane Austen and that bunch, and not equipped to appreciate postmodernism?
I do enjoy the meditations on the navel, though.
Di Nguyen Also, the idea of the post-joke age, sadly, fits Western culture today. Everything is serious now. Everything is offensive.
Himadri Chatterjee From certain perspectives, yes. But from certain other perspectives, it's quite the opposite: *nothing* is serious any more - we seem to be drowning in a tide of flippancy and facetiousness. I've lost count of the number of times I've tried to engage in discussion on matters that I, at least, consider serious, only for it to end up with "It doesn't matter - it's all a bit of a laugh, innit?"
Himadri Chatterjee And by the way, once you have appreciated "Tolstoy and Melville and Jane Austen and that bunch", what on earth do you want with postmodernism? It's trivial, self-regarding, self-aggrandising shite!
Di Nguyen There are lots of postmodernism folks around here, haha. 
Well several years ago I liked Milan Kundera very much, so now I'm just checking out his latest book.
Himadri Chatterjee In that case, please delete my post above. I pesonally have no regard for postmodernism, but it's not something I'd like to debate right now.

At the moment, I'm reading another Kundera novel, Life is Elsewhere. It's more coherent than the disjoint The Festival of Insignificance, and it has life, but perhaps for lots of people, it's a more conventional work. 

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