Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 18 (drizzling Kunderas)

It's drizzling outside, a fitting complement to this evening's early a.m. insomnia. Earlier in the evening (in the yesterday part of tonight), I scribbled a few pages of the rough stuff and called it "My Life as Kundera" although I may ultimately use "Think and Grow Kundera" as the title, taken from my earlier tweet in support of the idle twoughts of Alexander Chee. Anyway, the topic was my meandering musing on the Kudera-Kundera likeness, my father's interest in Milan's writing, me not being him, etc. It could become a section of The Book of Jay (see bottom links for rough-draft excerpts), but of course, I'll have to improve it a lot before it becomes anything at all.

It passed the time, though.

Speaking of J. Robert's engagement with the K., here's a photograph of some of my father's Kunderas, the paperback copies he discovered in bookstores decades ago:


The photograph is from earlier today, or I should say yesterday, but this copy of The Joke as a Penguin edition (1970) was his purchase decades ago and is the one I read when I finally read a Kundera novel in 2004. It's the third English translation of the book, but not the "definitive" one that includes Kundera's criticism of the previous translations of the book. That would be the Harper Perennial edition originally published in 1992. In the "Author's Note" at the end of the HP ed., Kundera's main expressed criticism of the Penguin edition concerns the editor's efforts at sabotaging the writer's punctuation.

Milan I feel your pain and I must confess that I have had similar feelings that I've never expressed formally in any Author's Note not yet and I've also tried to come to terms with allowing for such differences over commas and periods and even the possibility that the author does not and cannot know what is best in every way for his completed book while also recognizing that it is not only the apostrophe and the semicolon that must all be part of the joke

or no?

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