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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.
“An elegant, personalized integration of anecdote, analysis, scholarship, memory and speculation...Kundera’s opinions...are well worth listening to.”
-Russell Banks, New York Times Book Review
“A work of sophisticated literary cartography…agreeably studded with insights.”
-Joseph Epstein, Wall Street Journal
“Essential reading in a long history of debates about the genre...Wise, deep, and witty.”
-New York Review of Books
“Kundera…argues brilliantly…Discarding chronology, Kundera lets us witness the inner workings of his....wonderful reader’s mind.”
-Cecile Alduy, San Francisco Chronicle
“As the French expression goes, Kundera always gives you furiously to think…[He] writes…with passion.”
-Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World
“Lovely, meandering observations on the genre to which he has consecrated his life…Like good love stories, it pulls you in.”
“Kundera offers witty and edifying improvisations on…favorite themes…Anyone interested in the novel will delight in this book.”
-Alec Solomita, New York Sun
“Well-worth reading…witty and brisk and very smart, like all of [Kundera’s] writing.”
-William Deresiewicz, The Nation
“A swiftly told, beautifully crafted, pleasurable...scrutiny of the novel ...To Mr. Kundera, the novel is a liberating force.”
“Bursting at the seams with ideas…Kundera dashes irrepressibly around his own studio...to consistently fascinating effect. A rare pleasure.”
-Steven Poole, New Statesman
“Kundera is assuredly one of the great living writers…This is a remarkable book….Absorbing and sometimes sublime.”
“Brilliant, vehement, learned and wise…Stimulating and provocative…THE CURTAIN raises essential questions.”
“Kundera’s essay so perfectly distilles an approach to art that it realigns the way an art form is understood.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Evocative...Kundera marvelously conducts us on a journey through the history of the novel.”