Book report: The Art of the Novel

Milan Kundera is one of my favourite novelists (Unbearable Lightness of Being a book and movie I hold especially dear). The Art of the Novel reveals some of his thoughts about the history of literature and techniques of storytelling. In response to a question about whether his work is "philosophical", Kundera recoils from the word, saying philosophy excludes the personal, "it develops its thought in the abstract realm, without characters, without situations." For him, notions of being and being-in-the-world are fundamental to storytelling, but not to philosophy.


I keep churning this idea about philosophy being impersonal. I studied philosophy for 6 years and my passion for ideas was never cold or disinterested. I was always personally vested in my subject and conclusions. But, then again, I'm not a philosopher today... Still, it seems to me that we can't hope to make sense of anything without carrying, in our understanding, a sense of our own being; without placing self in the equation. Or - since we seem to be a perpetual mystery to ourselves - by embracing the absurd, the ineffable, that which we always fail to give utterance to.
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