Milan kundera needs no introduction; a milestone in the realm of literature. His only compilation of short stories is `laughable loves’. A collection of seven stories those tell of mainly paradoxes of love and sexuality has every potentiality to shake you deep inside. The very unique story telling style of his writing mixes philosophy with life with a easy narration so that the most common reader can easily go through it quite comfortably. Deeper philosophy but easy reading is one of the toughest jobs for any writer.
Of course the original book does not name exactly `laughable loves’ as Kundera wrote stories in Czech language. Original book is `Smesne lasky’ published first in Czechoslovakia in 1969. The first English edition was published in 1974 by Alfred A Knopf of United States of America. Translation from the Czech was done by Suzanne Rappaport. Milan Kundera himself revised the English translation twice- first in 1987 and second in 1999. That reflects author’s urge for accuracy and precision.
Those seven stories are mainly on eternal relation between male and female but there is another thing common; and that is the Czechoslovakia situation of that time ruled by communists. Kundera by heart and soul was against the ruling system. All his characters got some unique characteristics and put upon the background of the autocratic communist society.
The first story is `Nobody will laugh’. A satiric tell of a proud writer who is trapped by his self fulfilling prophecy and proud. An weird guy names Zaturecky expected some favor from a renowned art historian. In fact that guy was an admirer of the historian. Considering the guy’s enthusiasm and high respect for him the Historian promised to recommend him to a famous art journal; but lost his interest to keep his word in course of time. That poor little weird guy just made the hell out of the historian in a vindictive way that one cannot imagine.
Second story is `The golden apple of eternal desire.’ The name itself indicates the very early and primary history of human instinct. The writer got a friend named Martin who is one of the greatest admirers of women.
He knew, at least he believed that he knew, every possible way to seduce women. The writer himself was a book worm but Martin succeeded to visualize a shinning dream to seduce women. The started an adventure together to hunt girls but situation was not as easy they had anticipated.
`The Hitchhiking Game’ is the third story describing in one of the most extraordinary way the love feeling of a young couple. That couple started a game as they were stranger and to their utter surprise they found the strangers in themselves.
The fourth story `Symposium’ again focused upon the dimensions of sexual desire both in man and woman. The narration is like a symposium as if together with the readers the writer is trying to reach to a conclusion analyzing sexual desire from various perspectives.
`Let the old dead make room for the young dead’ is fifth story of the book. Here reader finds two characters’ interaction never knowing their names. The `She’ older than `He’ met each other after fifteen years. They both remembered the hot relation they maintained once but the older `she’ was afraid of `now lost beauty’.
The sixth story is `Dr Havel after twenty years.’ Dr Havel was one of the character of previous story `symposium.’ He was illustrated as a playboy there. He is old now and admitted to the hospital due to some Gaul blooder complexities. Older and sick days brought him newer expression of sexual desire.
Seventh and the final story is `Eduard and God.’ Eduard, an etheist, at last long for God but not from his believing. A man’s sadness of disability to take anything or anyone seriously leaves him a few choice like God.