THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Sunday, September 19, 1976
Page Four THE MICHIGAN DAILY Sunday1 September 19, 1976
THE FAREWELL PARTY,
by Milan Kundera. Alfred A.
Knopf, New York. 209 Pp.,
By JEFFREY SELBST
rPHIS COUNTRY'S sporadic
but pervasive fear of Com-
munism has given way to an
aura of horror surrounding the
minutiae of everyday life be-
hind the Iron Curtain. This has
been stoked by such as Solz-
henitsyn, with his tales of tor-
ture and prison camps, which
though true, fail to lend a co-
hesive portrayal of simple, com-
monplace occurence in the com-
So it was with no small meas-
ure of trepidation that I ap-
proached Milan Kundera' s nov-
el, The Farewell Party. Was I
going to be subjected to un-
remitting sorrow, twice-told
l f l
been conditioned to expect it.
What I found, instead, was
a touching, blackly humorous
novel of everyday people who
only happened incidentally to
be living under a Communist
regime. The story is set in a
spa where barren women come
to be made fecund by the heal-
ing arts of Dr. Skreta. Ruzena,
a young, pretty nurse, has just
discovered that she is pregnant,
and believes that the child was
fathered by Klima, a jazz
trumpeter who had just given
a concert at the sanitorium and
spent the night with her. She
uses this child as a trap to try
to force him to divorce his love-
ly wife, Kamila, and marry Ru-
Interwoven with this are the
stories of Jakub and Olga -
he a former political prisoner
just rehabilitated, she his de-
ceased best friend's daughter,
who has been his ward since
ALL THESE PEOPLE, with;
their sorrows and joys, are
striving to control their ownt
fates. Ruzena uses her fetus ast
a wedge, to escape the inevit-]
ability of marriage to her for-I
mer lover, a simple garage me-
chanic named Franta. Olga
finds that she needs to seduce
Jakub to prove her personhood,
and more importantly, her wom-
anhood. Jakub has been givenNl
permission to emigrate, to teach1
at a foreign university - and
so the five days in which the
novel is set provide him with
a symbolic summing-up of his
The culmination of that exist-
ence, in which each of the char-
acters takes part and by which
each is affected,dis the almost
inadvertent murder of Ruzena
by Jakub. He doesn't know her,
and yet she represents every-
thing he has come to hate. SheI
is the mindless, chipper, pertj
executioner of his anti-totali-
absent-mindedly into a bottle of to see him as he truly is. For AND THE IRONY IS, of The novel is fresh, dryly writ
medication that Ruzena takes though he knows the Conse- course, that the pill is ten, and for that reason, quite~
thrice daily. She sweeps in to quences, he lacks the desire to poison, and so Ruzena dies. amusing. It has no laugh lines,
the room, picks up her tube of do anything about it. There are no witnesses - in- yet so carefully do the best laid ..
pills, and sweeps out. The poison I When she is still alive twenty- deed, it is almost not even a plans go astray that, even while
pill is the same shape and color four hours later, he comes to crime, suffering with the group, one
as the others, and he knows it believe that the pill was a fake, cannot fail to see the silliness
is in there. Yet, curiously, he a placebo given him by hi' And so with this example, you of their situation.
does nothing to retrieve it, good friend Skreta as an illu- can see how Jakub is reduced
tfogh he badrhs the ertaresion of poison, enough to satis- to a base state of humanity by pleasure that Kunder didn't
knowledge thathshethmusrt ta fy the mind, but not to kill. the events of the five days. Kli- dwell on the concentration-camp
the pill. This reduces his opinion of his ma is reduced to a pitiful mass side of totalitarian life. The book
old friend, and so he drives of jelly, his jealous wife realizes is illuminating, and very fine.
He feels as though he wereTt
being tested by what he calls off, out of the country, convinc- that she doesn't need him any- The prose is literate (well trans
the One (the most his atheistic ed that, though he hadn't reallyI more, and one by one, the char- lated, too), and quite absorbing.
mind will concede in the way poisoned anyone, he was a mur- acters are revealed in their And of course, the country
of a God), and wishes the One derer at heart. birthday suits, as it were. isn't Russia, it's Czechoslavakia.
visit: An armchair
tales or oppression and brutaiIh er father's death.Itarian fantasies.
ty? I wasn't in the mood for Too, there is the life-loving,
that, God knows, though I'd lusty, yet deeply religious Amer-tu the key to ri all ci en
ican millionaire, Bartleff, who tal. Jakub takes the poison cap-
is a close friend of Dr. Skreta sule that has accompanied him
Jeffery Sebst is a Daily staff and a sort of universal bene- through prison out of his pocket
writer. factor. to show Olga. He then drops it
KENJI MOZOGUCHI'S 1953
"No director in the history of cinema has so completely identified with
the point dioffew n the women.''o
Voted one of the 10 best films of all time in a survey by SIGHT AND
adths odisb of anen my uts athaunting account of man's ambi-
TUES: Ant-nioni's ZABRISKIE POINT
CINEMA GUILD TONIGHT AT OLD ARCH. AUD.
7 & 9:05 Admission $1.25
WERNER HERZOG 1970
The most extraordinary of all Herzog's films dispenses with narrative
as such and offers instead a mock-heroic ''celebration" of the desert
as a terminal beach, littered with civilization's debris, the vestigial
signs of life fading fast. The mirages include the ghosts of colonialism
and the gods of ancient myth, but the film is basically (and alarm-
ingly) a documentary. By the brilliant director of EVEN DWARFS t
STARTED SMALL and EVERY MAN FOR H I M S E L F AND GOD i
AGAINST ALL. German, with subtitles-.
CINEMA | TONIGHT AT ANGELL HALL, AUD. "A" 17&9:0Am$.2
(Continued from Page 3) said Kottack. "They see him as, "Ford is a bland man," said
sen gave. "(He) said the White perhaps, bumbling or incompe- Gamson. "Those who disagree
Housetdidn't want to exploit the tent, but basically honest." with him, which was probably
students," wrote McCartney in: H' adt ae"ehe most of the community', were
an analysis Friday. "But the "He's hard to hate," echoed
White House did not object to Grew. "He's less the expert, he either polite or stayed home.'
having some 14,000 students suggests the decent guy doing ALL THE SPECULATION
serve as a backdrop for the his best, sort of like Truman. doesn't boil down to much.
President's campaign rally that Not the great statesman, the No one in the rest of the coun-
night." great leader." try must care about Ann Ar-
'WrHATEVER THE MURKY -
machinations of his staff,
Ford appeared at ease and con- I
fident, at home in maize and
blue Crisler, a setting he un-A
derstood. In a place dedicated )
to the kind of hard-nosed ath--
letic scrap Ford grew up with, A program for 5-11 yr. olds
he was delivering a put-up-your-
dukes speech. But as always) CLONLARA bus picks your child up at
with Ford, the intent was not loca ublic schools daily.
quite the result. He was just pub.
old Jerry trying to come on R &I
tough. If much of the audience' He/she enjoys Robby & Hamburghs
put up with him, it was be- 'very special after school program
cause they saw through to the until you arrive anywhere between
familiar core of dull decencv. 3:15 and 5:30 p.m. daily.
"I don't think people dislike
Ford in the same sense that VERY REASONABLE RATES
they disliked Nixon or Agnew,"
Clonlara Child Care
bor's short stretch in the sun The Crisler speech was just
this week. "The whole business another minor field tactic, an3
was a purely local event," as according to Landon Butler, the
Porter pointed out. "Next week deputy campaign manager of
he's going to be on a paddleboat another man running for presi-
running up the Mississippi. 'dent, "From out here in Mid-
There is something larger going die America, in Atlanta, it
on, of which Ford's visit here didn't look that great."
was only a fragment.
To People Who Like to SING
We know you like to sing. But do you also
like to act? To feel a full orchestra playing for
you? And most of all, do you like to have fun?
If your answers to the above are yes, you
ought to consider our offer. We are a new
group, so you may not know too much about us.
We were gottenatogether by people who feel
that musical theatre is one of the most enjoy-
able and rewarding experiences in life, and
that there should be a way for people to have
it without giving up their jobs, homes and
families, and perhaps their sanity. Ours is a
group for all to enjoy.
But with a difference. We produce mag-
nificent comic operas that aren't to be seen
anywhere e.se. New Faglish translations are
welded to the works of Strauss, Offenbach,
Rossini and other composers to make each
season's production a premier.
This year our major show is Lehar's "The
Merry Widow," which promises to be as excit-
ing for us and as successful as last year's "La
Belle Helene." For this we need a large chorus.
We need more than just soloists.
Please come to our ORGANIZATIONAL
MEETING this SUNDAY, Sept. 19, 7:30 at
ART WORLDS, 213%/., S. Main St., Ann Arbor.
If you would like more information, or
you would rather have a specific try-out time,
Our group is fun and it is extremely re-
warding. Join us. You won't regret it.
THE COMIC OPERA GUILD
classroom instruction in
If you want to create electronic music, our
1 2-week course is meant for you. Learn how to
use a synthesizer, operate tape recorders and
m i x e r s professionally, choose equipment
appropriate to your needs, and much more.
Classes are small and individual attention is
assured. Call today for further information.
555 e. william
5rowk pm - 6prr
Q /dr irk eca
\ err~y ly pint or7Qir
Separate classes begin on September 25 and 29
SEND a ' f
z IN THE ,
CLOWNS".n yr2.qt 4Ui
September 24-2 6
in the POWER CENTER
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2p.m. and 8 pm.
Advance ticket sales and Information: Ticket Office,
Mendelssohn Theatre Lobbv. (313) 764-0450
"wickets "ls avaliable through all area Hudson's
ONE THING AT the University of Michigan
you don't have to wait in line for .. .