Professor Ectric on Kundera’s Art of the Novel

I can’t say enough about Milan Kundera’s  book, The Art of the Novel. Fellow writers, if this book doesn’t excite and inspire you to write finish your novel, nothing will.


If I were a college professor, I . . .  wait a minute, I don’t have to be a college professor, this is my place…

Anyone want to study some Milan Kundera? You’ll need a copy of the book. I’m going to jump around a bit. Using the book, see if you can answer the following questions from The Art of the Novel, “PART FIVE – Somewhere Behind”:

          1.  In Kafka’s The Castle, the institution is

   a. a mechanism that obeys its own laws

   b. a boundless labyrinth

   c. unintelligible

   d. all of the above


2. In the Kafkan world, the file takes on the role of a

            a. butterfly

b. platonic idea

c. windmill

d. draft card

   3. Kafka’s first commentators explained his novels as

a. satire

b. surrealism

c. religious parables

d. slim volumes


4. Because of Kafka’s reversal of logic

a. the offense seeks the punishment

b. the accused seeks his offense

c. the punished beg for recognition their guilt

d. all of the above

      5. True or False: Kundera agrees with critics who explain Kafka’s novels as a critique of the alienation of an industrial society.

6. According to Kundera, Kafka differs from writers Max Brod, Franz Werfel, and Egon Erwin Kish in that

a. much is known about his college life

b. little is known about his college life

c. much is known about his political interests

d. little is known about his political interests

   7. According to Kundera, Kafka drew his knowledge of the technique of culpabilization from

a. his relationship with his parents

b. working in a factory

c. working in an office

d. both a and c


8. Some people see Kafka’s work as prophetic. Kundera says that Kafka

a. shed light on the mechanics of dreams, never suspecting Freud’s theories  

b. simply guessed about the future, never suspecting space travel

c. shed light on mechanisms he knew from private life, not suspecting later developments would put those mechanisms into action

d. mechanized a shed that never developed into a travel space until later

         9. Kundera says that a writer should seek

a. truth that is known from the outset

b. the poem hidden somewhere behind

c. that which is already out front

d. truth that is to be discovered

e. both b and d

10. Kundera describes the truth that is to be discovered as

a. the plot

b. the theme

c. the thesis

d. the dazzlement

That’s all for now. Was this whole exercise silly, or could a person have fun answering these questions? Feedback, anyone?


2 responses to “Professor Ectric on Kundera’s Art of the Novel”

  1. Yes, I read The Castle a long time ago. To be honest, I would need to read it again to really be able to discuss it. As far as not reading the rest of The Art of the Novel, I think you could finish it without worrying about appropriating Kundera’s ideas.

  2. Have you read The Castle? I haven’t but I’d like your opinion. I think I started it, but it was so nebulous… So I’d like to know if it’s worth the effort before I consider trying it again.

    Also, I was reading further about Kundera’s art of the novel (since I’m not getting anywhere with the book I’m writing) and I like what he says about action. But there I had to stop again, because I don’t want to find myself using his ideas instead of my own. See what I mean?

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