"Love Is a Losing Game": Textual Games in Milan Kundera's "The Hitchhiking Game"

By Snyman, Elisabeth; Crous, Elsa | Journal of Literary Studies, September 2014 | Go to article overview

"Love Is a Losing Game": Textual Games in Milan Kundera's "The Hitchhiking Game"


Snyman, Elisabeth, Crous, Elsa, Journal of Literary Studies


Summary

A couple who indulge in a tongue-in-cheek game of pretence soon discover that role-play can, in fact, reveal more about themselves--their real selves--and their partner, than it conceals. What begins on a whim as an indulgent and innocent bit of sport soon spirals out of control to threaten the dynamics of the couple's relationship, increasingly hampering their ability to distinguish between fact and fantasy. The authors of this article contend that Milan Kundera's "The Hitchhiking Game", one of seven short stories in the anthology Laughable Loves (1974), benefits from being read in terms of Roger Caillois's (1967) taxonomy of games and play, which I differentiates between competition, chance, mimicry and vertigo in respect of players' attitudes towards play. This theory is expanded by Wolfgang Iser (1993), who relates these four categories to the analysis of texts, introducing the concept of textual games. Employing the mimicry--chance binary seems particularly apt for this story as it highlights the unlimited potential for sustained illusion, as opposed to the limitations imposed by the finite nature of the text and the characters' eventual I disillusionment. In this tale of erotic love, the laughter hinted at in the title of the anthology is revealed to be rather wry, personal identity is shown to be ambiguous, and love often appears to be tainted by uncertainty.

Opsomming

'n Paartjie wat in ligte luim uiting gee aan hul verbeelding besef maar al te gou dat rolspel baie meer verklap aangaande hul ware persoonlikhede as wat dit verdoesel. Hul speletjie begin op die ingewing van die oomblik as oenskynlik skadelose pret, maar dinge raak vinnig buite beheer wanneer dit al hoe moeliker word om te I onderskei tussen feit en fiksie, en hul verhoudingsdinamiek boonop bedreig word. I Die outeurs van hierdie artikel is van mening dat Milan Kundera se "The Hitchhiking Game" [Die ryloopspeletjie--EC], een van sewe kortverhale in die bundel Laughable Loves (Lagwekkende liefdes--EC) sal baat vind indien dit gelees word aan die hand van Roger Caillois (1967) se taksonomie van spel: hy onderskei tussen kompetisie, noodlot/kans, verbeelding/nabootsing en vervoering as dryfvere vir menslike spel. I Wolfgang Iser (1993) bou hierdie teorie uit deur te verduidelik hoe die vier kategorisee verband hou met teks-analise en met teks-georienteerde spel. In hierdie kortverhaal is die nabootsing/noodlobpanng besonder gepas: dit maak voorsiening vir die ontelbare permutasies wat volgehoue illusie inhou, maar ook vir die beperkende aard van die teks en die karakters se uiteindelike ontnugtering. In hierdie verhaal van erotiese liefde blyk die gelag waarna die titel van die bundel verwys wrang te wees, karakters se identiteit is onstellend plooibaar, en liefde word meedoenloos gefolter deur onsekerheid.

Introduction

Over futile odds And laughed at by the gods And now the final frame Love is a losing game

--Amy Winehouse (2007)

It may seem unusual to revisit "The Hitchhiking Game", one of seven short stories which make up Laughable Loves, a largely unknown anthology by Milan Kundera, first published in Czech as Smesne Lasky (1968), and subsequently revised and translated (2) into various languages. The collection of short stories constitutes Kundera's sole foray into this literary genre to date, but his oeuvre has since expanded to include novels as well as works of literary criticism. Given his Central European heritage (see Boyer-Weinmann 2009: 14), references to Czechoslovakia's history and geography appear in Kundera's work, thus linking it to a national narrative (Ebersole 2012: 1). Kundera revealed that he had completed the final story in this collection three days before the Soviet invasion of 1968 (Culik 2000: 19). Jeffrey Goldfarb (in Carroll 1992: 109) emphasises that while these short stories are apolitical, they bear traces of the domination and subjugation associated with living under a Communist dispensation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

"Love Is a Losing Game": Textual Games in Milan Kundera's "The Hitchhiking Game"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.