Milan Kundera

(The Joke)

Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
... pain doesn't listen to reason. It has its own reason, which is not reasonable. Human Nature
No great movement designed to change the world can bear to be laughed at or belittled. Political Parties & Machines
There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one's own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
A novel that does not uncover a hitherto unknown segment of existence is immoral. Knowledge is the novel's only morality. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
A worker may be the hammer's master, but the hammer still prevails. A tool knows exactly how it is meant to be handled, while the user of the tool can only have an approximate idea.
All great novels, all true novels, are bisexual.
Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy.
Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an esthetic end. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Broch is an inspiration to us, not only because of what he accomplished, but also because of all that he aimed at and could not attain.
Business has only two functions - marketing and innovation. Business, Commerce & Finance
Culture is perishing in overproduction, in an avalanche of words, in the madness of quantity.
Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent.
Eroticism is like a dance: one always leads the other.
Every change of scene requires new expositions, descriptions, explanations.
For a novelist, a given historic situation is an anthropologic laboratory in which he explores his basic question: What is human existence?
Happiness is the longing for repetition. Happiness & Unhappiness
Hate traps us by binding us too tightly to our adversary.
He took over anger to intimidate subordinates, and in time anger took over him. Time
How goodness heightens beauty!
I am incapable of speaking of myself and of my life and the states of my soul, I am discreet to an almost pathological degree, and there is nothing I can do against that. Life
I find myself fascinating.
I remember that the day I finished 'The Angels,' part three of 'The Book of Laughter and Forgetting', I was terribly proud of myself. I was sure that I had discovered the key to a new way of putting together a narrative.
I think I am a much better actor than I have allowed myself to be.
In order to make the novel into a polyhistorical illumination of existence, you need to master the technique of ellipsis, the art of condensation. Otherwise, you fall into the trap of endless length. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Let us consider the critic, therefore, as a discoverer of discoveries.
Listening to a news broadcast is like smoking a cigarette and crushing the butt in the ashtray.
Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. Respect
Man's world is the planet of inexperience.
Metaphors are dangerous. Love begins with a metaphor. Which is to say, love begins at the point when a woman enters her first word into our poetic memory. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Mysticism and exaggeration go together. A mystic must not fear ridicule if he is to push all the way to the limits of humility or the limits of delight.
No act is of itself either good or bad. Only its place in the order of things makes it good or bad.
No great movement designed to change the world can bear to be laughed at or belittled. Mockery is a rust that corrodes all it touches.
No matter how much we scorn it, kitsch is an integral part of the human condition.
Nothing is more repugnant to me than brotherly feelings grounded in the common baseness people see in one another.
Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought.
Nudity is the uniform of the other side... nudity is a shroud.
Only a literary work that reveals an unknown fragment of human existence has a reason for being. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Optimism is the opium of the people.
People are going deaf because music is played louder and louder, but because they're going deaf, it has to be played louder still. Music, Chants & Rapps
The best actors do not let the wheels show.
The light that radiates from the great novels time can never dim, for human existence is perpetually being forgotten by man and thus the novelists' discoveries, however old they may be, will never cease to astonish. Time
The novelist teaches the reader to comprehend the world as a question. There is wisdom and tolerance in that attitude. In a world built on sacrosanct certainties the novel is dead.
The sound of laughter is like the vaulted dome of a temple of happiness. Happiness & Unhappiness
The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. Power
The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything.
The worth of a human being lies in the ability to extend oneself, to go outside oneself, to exist in and for other people.
There are metaphysical problems, problems of human existence, that philosophy has never known how to grasp in all their concreteness and that only the novel can seize.
There are no small parts. Only small actors.
There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one's own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels for someone, for someone, pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echos.
Those who consider the Devil to be a partisan of Evil and angels to be warriors for Good accept the demagogy of the angels. Things are clearly more complicated.
To be a writer does not mean to preach a truth, it means to discover a truth. Truth
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace. War & Peace
True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Power ;Freedom & Liberty
When I was a little boy in short pants, I dreamed about a miraculous ointment that would make me invisible. Then I became an adult, began to write, and wanted to be successful. Now I'm successful and would like to have the ointment that would make me invisible.
Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress. Life
Without the meditative background that is criticism, works become isolated gestures, historical accidents, soon forgotten.
You can understand nothing about art, particularly modern art, if you do not understand that imagination is a value in itself. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle