According to Kundera, the Joke Is a Love Story. Discuss This View.

Topics: Love, Milan Kundera, English-language films Pages: 4 (1635 words) Published: November 10, 2008
When The Joke was presented to Kundera as a critique of Stalinism he interrupted by saying “Spare me your Stalinism, The Joke is a love story’. As the framework of the plot bears little resemblance to any other conventional love story (Romeo and Juliet, for example), it is fairly safe to assume that we are being led to question the nature of what a love story is, and indeed, the nature of love. The first example of love we are presented with is displayed through a traditional romantic gestures; the holding of hands, song, passion and emotion. We are, however, very aware of the less than traditional backdrop of a demonstration. Kundera combines these familiar actions within what would have been a contemporary situation. However, we are dubious about the sincerity of their love by the end of Helena’s monologue. Pavel accuses their marriage being founded on ‘Party Discipline’ (p.13. The Joke), rather than love. Given the circumstances of their first encounter this could be seen as a valid point. As well as the fact that we are told that she no longer loves him, at least 7 years after their initial meeting. One wonders whether her love for him was genuine, or for a period of her life. She equates Pavel with her ‘youth, Prague, The University, the dormitory and most of all the Fucik Song and Dance Ensemble’. She projects her history onto Pavel, and we are left to decide whether her love was of a true nature, or of the feeling and identity being a member of the party and university (and more importantly, youth). More emotion is directed to the atmosphere of being alive in that era than Pavel. The extent of her love for The Party would be her unwavering faith in it’s teachings in the face of her Husband’s level-headed disillusionment. Her love for the Party even outlives her love for Pavel. We are immediately hurled into a complex web of a love that seems to be either infused by the spirit of the times or to happen entirely because of it (“(…love was...
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