This essay discusses the implications of Milan Kundera's conception of the novel for literary theory and history. It presents Kundera's theory of the novel as a search for a type of didacticism that inscribes the reader in a process of learning that does not have a concrete content or object of knowledge, but instead activates the reader's faculty of reflection and self-reflection. Kundera addresses this reflective attitude to the text as maturity and applies it to life at large. Maturity is not about learning correct values or coming to terms with reality; it is not about attaining the ultimate moment of completeness and definitive truths. Rather, maturity is a process and practice that embraces change and the capacity to see life from different perspectives. The novel is a catalyst and medium of this practice because it stimulates our ability to think, question, and, as a result, change.
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Daniel Just; Literature and Learning How to Live: Milan Kundera's Theory of the Novel as a Quest for Maturity. Comparative Literature 1 June 2016; 68 (2): 235–250. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-3507972
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