for the love of banned literature

A short note on Milan Kundera’s collection of short stories, Laughable Loves.

I usually have a backlog of books that are unread. What got me started on this one was that it was banned after publication. The stories are lengthy and unfold at a lazy pace. They all have an overt or covert tone of sex/love/sexuality. However, this is not erotica, not even close. The characters and plot are under the constant shadow of the overarching theme of sexuality.

I must warn that these stories will almost certainly irk feminists. The women characters seem to be either helpless and gullible or conniving and conceited. I can barely recall a woman character that seemed ‘natural’.

This isn’t Kundera’s best work. Some stories are gems, where the plot ‘happens’ to unsuspecting, believable characters. Others seem forced, where the characters seem ‘fitted’ to the plot. In retrospect, I can understand the ban. In the communist Prague, where it first came out, it must have been seen by the Party as a threat to ‘sound morality’.

Blood must boil, but only in communist toil!

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