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Kundera’s Man of Feeling

Michael Wood, 13 June 1991

Immortality 
by Milan Kundera, translated by Peter Kussi.
Faber, 387 pp., £14.99, May 1991, 0 571 14455 1
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Storm 2: New Writing from East and West 
edited by Joanna Labon.
93 pp., £5, April 1991, 9780009615139
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... Milan Kundera writes novels, but are they philosophy or fiction? Kundera himself (in an interview collected in The Art of Novel) finds the comparison with philosophy ‘inappropriate’: ‘Philosophy develops its thought in an abstract realm, without characters, without situations.’ That is what a certain tradition of philosophy does. But when Richard Rorty describes philosophy as turning to narrative and the imagination, pointing us towards solidarity through ‘the imaginative ability to see strange people as fellow sufferers’, we seem close to Kundera’s work, and to much traditional thinking about what fiction will do for us ...

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