Encounter is the latest addition to the acclaimed body of literary criticism from beloved author Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting). Novelist Russell Banks writes, “Not since Henry James, perhaps, has a fiction writer examined the process of writing with such insight, authority, and range of reference and allusion.” In Encounter, Kundera brilliantly reflects on some of his signature themes and old loves (Rabelais, Fellini, Janacek, Malaparte), on literature, on morality, and on the transformation of civilization as we know it.
Originally published as Une rencontre in France, Kundera’s home since leaving Czechoslovakia in 1975, this collection of brief essays explores his relationship with art (especially modern art) and mortality (to some extent, his own). Though his subjects include Fellini, Schoenberg, and painter Francis Bacon, much of what Kundera has to say has to do with the novel and the successes and shortcomings of certain novelists; in this way, this selection echoes The Art of the Novel (1986). But his musings on Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Anatole France, and Curzio Malaparte (and others, like Dostoyevsky and Phillip Roth, more familiar to American audiences) occasionally take a wistful...