Thursday, August 28, 2014


Chapeau Bas!

Life. A strange thing. I will now always remember a red bowler hat. Actually it’s not the hat that’s important so much as the person who wore it; and it wasn’t exactly a bowler hat but a related style that is rather more feminine. Maybe a bowler hat for women is still a bowler hat? I am currently reading Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, in which a bowler hat (definitely a male hat and black) plays a significant part in the plot.

Kundera has sat on my shelves for decades until I finally got round to reading him last year. I know that when it comes to sexual politics he is considered to be a very masculine (i.e. chauvinistic) author, but in fact I think that such a crude judgment does him a disservice. The ramifications of the decisions made by his characters are complex; by no means are the men in his stories always in control, the women always their prey. It is probably Kundera’s raw honesty that some readers find objectionable. He is one of those writers who specialise in unpalatable truths; and that surely is one of the proper functions for a writer?

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