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Life is Elsewhere

by Milan Kundera


The author initially intended to call this novel The Lyrical Age. The lyrical age, according to Kundera, is youth, and this novel, above all, is an epic of adolescence; an ironic epic that tenderly erodes sacrosanct values: childhood, motherhood, revolution, and even poetry. Jaromil is in fact a poet. His mother made him a poet and accompanies him (figuratively) to his love bed and (literally) to his deathbed. A ridiculous and touching character, horrifying and totally innocent ("innocence with its bloody smile!"), Jaromil is at the same time a true poet. He's no creep, he's Rimbaud - Rimbaud entrapped by the communist revolution, entrapped in a somber farce.

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Recommendations: 1

Categories: Literature & Fiction

Reading time: 911 hours

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Neil Strauss
Author and Journalist

For artists, there's a book by Milan Kundera that I give away a lot. It's called Life is Elsewhere. And, this is my interpretation of it, which is probably wrong. It's been a few years. But, there's someone who's born. And, he's born to be a great artist. He's going to become a great poet, but his mother issues, and sort of politics, and peer pressures of the time turn him into a total hack. And, I think it's an analogy for that choice we all have in life: Are you going to fulfill your potential? Or, are you just going to give into the peer pressure of the moment, and become nothing?