“An invincible Czech horde”: Political and Social Implications of Abstract Moravian Folklore in Milan Kundera’s <em>The Joke</em>

  • Edwige Tamalet Talbayev


This article studies the treatment of Moravian folk music in Milan Kundera ́s 1967 first novel, The Joke (Žert). Reconstructed as the performative practice through which timeless collective memory is enacted, folklore appears as a vector of resistance to state-sponsored Communism in the post-utopian context of the novel. By probing the limitations and potentialities of this vision, this argument sheds light on the complex intersections of folklore, tradition, and collective identity in Communist Czechoslovakia and paves the way for a critical consideration of identitarian discourses based on a mythical reconstruction of the past.