Saturday, November 10, 2007

Milan Kundera on the History of Art

Milan Kundera on the history of art:

Applied to art, the notion of history has nothing to do with progress; it does not imply improvement, amelioration, an ascent; it resembles a journey undertaken to explore unknown lands and chart them. The novelist's ambition is not to do something better than his predecessors but to see what they did not see, say what they did not say. Flaubert's poetics does not devalue Balzac's, any more than the discovery of the North Pole renders obsolete the discovery of America.

From Milan Kundera, The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts (translated from the French by Linda Asher, 2006).


Seachanges said...

I have this book on my bookshelf and read parts when the mood takes me: it has wonderful insights into novels and in particular liked his piece on the beauty of death, discussing the question of why Anna Karenina kills herself (pp.21-25)

Jake said...

I quoted The Curtain not long ago, but still haven't written a post about the whole thing. One is half-written and sitting on my hard drive, much as The Curtain, festooned with stickies, is on my nightstand. I might be reluctant to write because it resists summarization or further abstraction.

Miguel said...

An excellent observation in an era when many think literature needs to evolve and start making better use of technologies.