The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'mikhail bulgakov'
Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a story of bohemian, intellectual bootywhang in Communist Prague, has acquired a reputation as a standard seduction prop. Though, according to Maciej Ceglowski, it is a very mediocre book; the literary equivalent of one of those high-concept Working Title films that purports to be sophisticated art-house fare for people who like the aura of intellectuality without the arduous chore of being made to think (or, for that matter, read subtitles):
Milan Kundera is the Dave Matthews of Slavic letters, a talented hack, certainly a hack who's paid his dues, but a hack nonetheless. And by his own admission, this is his worst book. If you strip off the exoticism of Brezhnev-era Czechoslovakia (this rinses off easily in soapy water), you are left with a book full of vapid characters bouncing against each other like little perfectly elastic balls of condensed ego. And every twenty pages the story steps outside for a cigarette so that the author can deliver a short philosophical homily. Kundera has a sterile, cleanroom writing style meant to suggest that he is a surgeon expertly dissecting the human condition before your eyes, but if you look a little more closely, you see he's just performing an autopsy on a mannequin. Or more accurately, a RealDoll.Ceglowski goes on to recommend a set of books by Slavic authors much better than Kundera, and rate their date-impressing potential. He's right on the money for The Master and Margarita (in terms of it being a cracking good read, at least), and I get the feeling that I'm going to have to read Adventures of the Good Soldier Svejk.
German director Thomas Tykwer (of Run Lola Run fame) is apparently working on a film adaptation of The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov's magic-realist novel about the Devil visiting Leninist Russia, written at the height of the Stalinist purges. The Devil (aka Mr. Woland) will be played by Johnny Depp, and filming will take place in Prague (where else?). This should be interesting. (via Reenhead)
(Thankfully Hollywood didn't get it; with the way they massacred Lem's Solaris, it's obvious that the Hollywood script-doctor/focus-group/computer-aided-character-development methodology doesn't go well with serious eastern-European literature.)
(There have been other adaptations of this work; there was an Italian version, made in the 1970s, which gutted it and turned it into a fairly average sensual love story, and a Polish TV mini-series made sometime in the 1980s, which was apparently very faithful to the original and quite good. It'll be interesting what Tykwer makes of it.)