裏切られた遺言 単行本 – 1994/9
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A brilliant and thought-provoking essay from one of the twentieth century’s masters of fiction, Testaments Betrayed is written like a novel: the same characters appear and reappear throughout the nine parts of the book, as do the principal themes that preoccupy the author. Kundera is a passionate defender of the moral rights of the artist and the respect due a work of art and its creator’s wishes. The betrayal of both—often by their most passionate proponents—is one of the key ideas that informs this strikingly original and elegant book.--このテキストは、絶版本またはこのタイトルには設定されていない版型に関連付けられています。
His main examples are Franz Kafka (Max Brod didn't respect his testament which ordered to destroy all non published work) and Leos Janácek (whose opera score was `adapted' by an opera director).
Art has an autonomous status, its own laws. Art is not an imitation of reality. It is a unique expression of an individual. It is therefore logical that this individual possesses all rights over a work that emanates exclusively from him.
Moreover, one doesn't need biographical furor (Sainte-Beuve), to know the writer, painter or composer in order to understand his work. As Marcel Proust states: 'a book is the product of a self, other than the self we manifest in our habits.'
Milan Kundera detests also those critics who interpret a work of art with their own political, philosophical, religious convictions (see Adorno's scandalous critic of Stravinsky's music).
Essential for the novel are the facts that it is a realm where moral judgment is suspended, that there are no dogmas of psychological realism and that it breaks through the plausibility barrier with fantasy and humor (Rabelais, Cervantes) in order to apprehend better the real world.
It is evident that in these conditions art can be a dangerous weapon in the hands of political, religious, social, cultural, sexual, -in one word -, critical opponents of established powers. In the Rushdie case, `the guardians of the temple were powerless against a novel.'
I have a few remarks about this text.
Firstly, art is indeed an individual expression (of the artist's emotions), but true art is the craftsmanship to arouse emotions in the spectator, the listener, the reader.
Secondly, writers have normally a (few) friend(s) whom they ask to evaluate their work before submitting it to a publisher (in the case of Kafka, one of these persons was certainly Max Brod).
Thirdly, in `The Critic as Artist' Oscar Wilde expressed perfectly why art is so dangerous: `For when a work is finished it has as it were, an independent life of it own, and may deliver a message far other than that which was put into its lips.'
Therefore, it is absurd that an artist should fanatically impose his own `vision' on his work.
And lastly, Orwell's 1984 has not only a political dimension, but also a social, des(human)izing, Kafkaesque one (important facts happening or that happened in the world are only known by an all-powerful `secret team'). Its main theme is freedom to live, to know (`who controls the present, controls the past') and to speak. It is perhaps a bad novel, but an immortal good bad one.
This is a thought-provoking book and a must read for all lovers of art, and of literature in particular.