Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2019

From The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

From <i>The Book of Laughter and Forgetting</i>

Photograph via Flickr by shutterhacks

Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Litost is an untranslatable Czech word. Its first syllable, which is long and stressed, sounds like the wail of an abandoned dog. As for the meaning of this word, I have looked in vain in other languages for an equivalent, though I find it difficult to understand how one can understand the human soul without it.”

Kundera defines litost as “a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery”; I’ve felt it often, I think it’s beautiful, I’m gonna leave it at that.