Jacques and his Master

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Jacques and his Master is a play written in 1971 by Milan Kundera, which he subtitles "A Homage to Diderot in Three Acts".[1] It was translated by Simon Callow in 1986 and directed by him in 1987.[2]


The play follows two men, Jacques and his master, as they go on a journey that remains unexplained for the whole play. They tell stories to each other to pass the time and along the way the scenes from their respective pasts are performed for the audience. The play is set in the eighteenth century, like Diderot's novel Jacques the Fatalist, however Kundera deliberately leaves the historical aspects of time and place as ambiguous:

Just as the play's language is not a reconstruction of the language of another time, nor should the historical character of the set and costumes be insisted on.[this quote needs a citation]

The play examines the issues of authorship and the nature of artistic creation through the dialogue between the two principal characters and their rendering of their own histories.

Notable productions[edit]

  • The American Repertory Theatre, Cambridge, Massachusetts, directed by Susan Sontag (1985)[3]
  • The New Theater of Brooklyn, New York, directed by Deborah J. Pope (1989)[4]
  • Old Fire Station, Oxford, United Kingdom, directed by Luca Giberti, with John Gaughan and Brian Stewart (2003)[5]
  • ADC Theatre, Cambridge, United Kingdom, directed by Amrou Al-Kadhi and Francesca Warner (23–26 February 2011)[6]


  1. ^ "The Milan Kundera Bibliography". Retrieved 2010-12-23. 
  2. ^ "Simon Callow biography". Retrieved 2010-12-23. 
  3. ^ Rabkin, G. (1985). "Gerald Rabkin article". Performing Arts Journal 9 (1): 17–24. JSTOR 3247806. 
  4. ^ "The New York Times Review". Retrieved 2010-12-23. 
  5. ^ "Daily Info review". Retrieved 2011-01-20. 
  6. ^ "Jacques and his Master". adctheatre.com. Retrieved 2010-12-23.