The Curtain

Milan Kundera
Translated by Linda Asher

Milan Kundera’s The Curtain: Essays is a brilliant exploration of the novel – its history and its art – from one of the genre’s most distinguished practitioners.

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In this entertaining and always stimulating collection of seven essays, Kundera deftly sketches out his personal view of the history and value of the novel. Too often, he suggests, a novel is thought about only within the confines of the nation of its origin, when in fact the novel’s development has always occurred across borders: Laurence Sterne learned from Rabelais, Henry Fielding from Cervantes, Joyce from Flaubert, García Márquez from Kafka. The real work of a novel is not bound up in the specifics of any one language: what makes a novel matter is its ability to reveal some previously unknown aspect of our existence. In The Curtain, Kundera skillfully describes how the best novels do just that.


The French-Czech novelist Milan Kundera was born in the Czech Republic and lived in France since 1975. He died in Paris in 2023.

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