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Theme and Variation: Milan Kundera, Denis Diderot, and the Art of the Novel

Theme and Variation: Milan Kundera, Denis Diderot, and the Art of the Novel g illian b. Pierce e Th me and Variation Milan Kundera, Denis Diderot, and the Art of the Novel Eh bien! je dirai comme un poète français, qui avait fait une assez bonne épigramme, disait à quelqu’un qui se l’attribuait en sa présence: «Pourquoi monsieur ne l’aurait-il pas faite? je l’ai bien faite, moi . . .»1 (Diderot, Jacques le fataliste 141) L’Europe des Temps modernes n’est plus là. Celle dans laquelle nous vivons ne cherche plus son identité dans le miroir de sa philosophie et de ses arts. Mais où est donc le miroir. Où aller chercher notre visage? 2 (Kundera, Le Rideau 187) In the Le Rideau (25), 00 Milan Kundera claims that transforming a novel into a play reduces it to its plot and decomposes form. Should we read this assertion as a renunciation of the only play Kundera himself has composed, his rewriting of Diderot’s novel in Jacques et son maître?3 Before any such appraisal, we might r fi st wish to assess Kundera’s statement in light of his thoughts on the history of the novel itself and the privileged place that Diderot holds within that history. For Kundera, the novelistic tradition begun by Cervantes, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

Theme and Variation: Milan Kundera, Denis Diderot, and the Art of the Novel

The Comparatist , Volume 33 – Jun 12, 2009

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 the Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887

Abstract

g illian b. Pierce e Th me and Variation Milan Kundera, Denis Diderot, and the Art of the Novel Eh bien! je dirai comme un poète français, qui avait fait une assez bonne épigramme, disait à quelqu’un qui se l’attribuait en sa présence: «Pourquoi monsieur ne l’aurait-il pas faite? je l’ai bien faite, moi . . .»1 (Diderot, Jacques le fataliste 141) L’Europe des Temps modernes n’est plus là. Celle dans laquelle nous vivons ne cherche plus son identité dans le miroir de sa philosophie et de ses arts. Mais où est donc le miroir. Où aller chercher notre visage? 2 (Kundera, Le Rideau 187) In the Le Rideau (25), 00 Milan Kundera claims that transforming a novel into a play reduces it to its plot and decomposes form. Should we read this assertion as a renunciation of the only play Kundera himself has composed, his rewriting of Diderot’s novel in Jacques et son maître?3 Before any such appraisal, we might r fi st wish to assess Kundera’s statement in light of his thoughts on the history of the novel itself and the privileged place that Diderot holds within that history. For Kundera, the novelistic tradition begun by Cervantes,

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jun 12, 2009

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