The original title: Život je jinde. The novel was finished in the Czech Republic in 1970 and it first appeared as translation into French in Paris, where it won the Medici literary prize. The working title of the book was "The Lyrical Age", which should be understood as the age of puberty or adolescence. The protagonist of this youth epic is a poet named Jaromil, whose life we witness from the very beginning (conception) to the very end (premature death). The work is a sarcastic but very reasonable and rational analysis of immaturity, narcissistic age, a poetic approach to the world, which can be pernicious if not allowed to develop. Kundera presents his view on adolescence presenting the lyrical character, who, not being able to deal with reality, creates his own independent world - poetry, which gives him shelter. This make-believe, a world a bit distorted becomes the poet's refuge, and it is there that he lives his real life. The lyrical poet is trying to find a better world in poetry, better than the one he was born into. The title of the novel is a quotation from the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, which was also used by André Breton in the last paragraph of his surrealistic manifesto in 1924. The expression also became a slogan used by the protesting stidents in Paris May 1968. The novel is an analytic biography of the fictitious young poet. Jaromir is controlled (willy-nilly) by women to a considerable extent, especially by his neurotic mother, who believes in various ideals and trusts various people, which, obviously, leads to disappointments.
Being narcicisstic, the protagonist is trying to gain recognition among other literary adepts, famous those days, one of the reasons being the fact their art matches socialist views. Jaromil's selfishness makes him denounce a girl he likes, who has to spend many years in prison for the things she's never done. Soon after that Jaromir ambitiously gets into a party to some attractive journalist, where, after some incidents, he catches a cold on the balcony. Due to the illness and the resentment caused by personal failures, Jaromir dies. His death is trivial and tragic at the same time since the poet has not created anything and has not even become mature enough to be able to gain a sensible and distanced assessment of reality. The story is told by many narrators; it is divided into 7 parts which come at random, not chronologically. At first, the author describes Jaromil's childhood, then he abandons the biography and places the young poet in the background of stories told by other characters. At the end of the novel, just before the episode that leads to his unexpected death, Jaromil becomes the main character again.