Why did you choose the farce form for a novel that is not at all meant to be an entertainment?
But it is an entertainment! I don’t understand the contempt that the French have for entertainment, why they are so ashamed of the word divertissement. They run less risk of being entertaining than of being boring. And they also run the risk of falling for kitsch, that sweetish, lying embellishment of things, the rose-colored light that bathes even such modernist works as Illuard’s poetry or Ettore Scola’s recent film Le Bal, whose subtitle could be: “French history as kitsch.” Yes, kitsch, not entertainment, is the real aesthetic disease! The great European novel started out as entertainment, and every true novelist is nostalgic for it. In fact, the themes of those great entertainments are terribly serious—think of Cervantes! In The Farewell Party, the question is, does man deserve to live on this earth? Shouldn’t one “free the planet from man’s clutches”?
The interview between Christian Salmon and Milan Kundera was published at The Paris Review on Issue 92, Summer 1984. Check out this issue