cover image The Art of the Novel

The Art of the Novel

Milan Kundera. Grove Press, $0 (165pp) ISBN 978-0-8021-0011-5

A novelist who writes eloquently about the wrenching dislocations of history, Kundera explains that his fictions use historical circumstances only to thrust his characters into a ""revelatory existential situation.'' The Czech writer (The Joke, Laughable Loves) draws lessons from Cervantes, who saw the world as a welter of contradictory truths, and from Kafka, who recognized that pure irrationality held center stage. In essays and dialogues, he discusses novelists whose works are sorely neglected (Broch, Diderot) and more familiar writers like Tolstoy, Flaubert, Musil and Sterne. He presents a 62-word glossary of key words to aid readers of his own novels (``Betrayal . . . Breaking ranks and going off into the unknown''). His strikingly original reflections crystallize his conviction that the modern novelist's greatest asset is the wisdom of uncertainty. (March)