Though Kundera now describes the 1969 translation of The Joke (published by Coward, McCann) as ""incomplete and otherwise defective,"" the novel remains essentially the same in this new version by Michael Henry Heim--who translated Kundera's recent success, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. From the 1969 Kirkus review: ""A rather innocent youthful joke . . . metastasizes, bringing rejection, ostracism, and failure to all concerned but in particular to its perpetrator, Ludvik Jahn. . . . Actually this Czechoslovakian novel, told through the eyes of Ludvik and some of his associates, is a larger political parable indicating the repressive futility within this country since the war. . . . For the most part, Ludvik tells his story with a kind of regretful disengagement and defenseless resignation which by no means subdues the effectiveness and the acute projection of the spiritual loss of life behind the curtain.