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To the Manure Born

David Coward: An uncompromising champion of the French republic, 21 July 2005

Memoirs of a Breton Peasant 
by Jean-Marie Déguignet, translated by Linda Asher.
Seven Stories, 432 pp., £17.99, November 2004, 1 58322 616 8
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... of his angry poetry (Rimes et révoltes) and the uncut autobiography, Histoire de ma vie (2001). Linda Asher has now given Déguignet a splendidly faithful English voice: pugnacious, tetchy and opinionated. From the start Déguignet punctures the romantic myth of Brittany, land of dolmens, Arthurian legend and fairies. He regularly went hungry, never ...

Kiss me!

Benjamin Markovits: Kundera’s Nostalgia, 20 February 2003

Ignorance 
by Milan Kundera, translated by Linda Asher.
Faber, 195 pp., £16.99, November 2002, 0 571 21550 5
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... Milan Kundera’s novels are built around ideas – predicaments, particular emotions, even gestures – like cities around metro stops. His characters live as close to them as possible, meet others of a like mind or misery, then depart for the next stop and the next conception. His new novel, Ignorance, isn’t about ignorance in the ordinary sense, but about the predicaments of both exile and homecoming: ‘In Spanish añoranza comes from the verb añorar (to feel nostalgia), which comes from the Catalan enyorar, itself derived from the Latin word ignorare (to be unaware of, not know, not experience; to lack or miss ...

Nuvvles

Stephen Wall, 16 March 1989

The Art of the Novel 
by Milan Kundera, translated by Linda Asher.
Faber, 165 pp., £9.95, June 1988, 0 571 14819 0
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Adult Pleasures: Essays on Writers and Readers 
by Dan Jacobson.
Deutsch, 144 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 0 233 98204 3
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... Novelists on the novel – or, at any rate, good novelists on the novel – often write with a vigour and a commitment to the form that shames more academic approaches. Such practitioners’ confessions, as Milan Kundera calls them, may be more partial but they’re also more impassioned. They know what it is like, and they know what they want. It is Henry James, of course, who exhibits at the highest level the combination of the practising novelist’s experience and the finest critical intelligence, but lesser if still considerable writers, such as E ...

Stalin is a joker

Michael Hofmann: Milan Kundera, 2 July 2015

The Festival of Insignificance 
by Milan Kundera, translated by Linda Asher.
Faber, 115 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 571 31646 5
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... Younger readers​ – how I’ve dreamed of beginning a review with those snitty Amis/Waugh-type words – will need reminding that in the 1970s and 1980s there was no getting round the French-Bohemian (actually Moravian) novelist Milan Kundera, who was to those decades what Sebald and Knausgaard were to be for those following. There was about these authors something chic and brainy and radical: three qualities the English have on the whole preferred to import as required rather than mass-produce at home; better to bring them in (like a playmaker, a trequartista) on a whim and a sufferance (give them a work visa, a translation contract or an import licence) than set up anything like an assembly line ...

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