Slowness

Front Cover
HarperCollinsPublishers, 1996 - Fiction - 156 pages
After the gravity of The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Immortality, Slowness comes as a surprise: it is certainly Kundera's lightest novel, a divertimento, an opera buffa, with, as the author himself says, "not a single serious word in it"; then, too, it is the first of his novels to have been written in French (in the eyes of the French public, turning him definitively into a "French writer").
Disconcerted and enchanted, the reader follows the narrator of Slowness through a midsummer's night in which two tales of seduction, separated by more than two hundred years, interweave and oscillate between the sublime and the comic. In the eighteenth-century narrative, the marvelous Madame de T. summons a young nobleman to her chateau one evening and gives him an unforgettable lesson in the art of seduction and the pleasures of love.
In the same chateau at the end of the twentieth century, a hapless young intellectual experiences a rather less successful night. Distracted by his desire to be the center of public attention at a convention of entomologists, Vincent loses the beautiful Julie - ready and willing though she is to share an evening of intimacy and sexual pleasure with him - and suffers the ridicule of his peers.
A "morning-after" encounter between the two young men from different centuries brings the novel to a poignant close: Vincent has already obliterated the memory of his humiliation as he prepares to speed back to Paris on his motorcycle, while the young nobleman will lie back on the cushions of his carriage and relive the night before in the lingering pleasure of memory.

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User Review  - jonfaith - LibraryThing

My initial reading was couched in rain. I spent an afternoon in Indianapolis after dropping off a client and I ingested six shots of espresso and marvelled at the philosophical origami that Kundera ... Read full review

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User Review  - PZR - LibraryThing

Okay, cards on the table time... I'd read the three books for which Milan Kundera is best known - 'The Joke', 'The Book of Laughter and Forgetting' and 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' - and I ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
71
Section 2
120
Section 3
125
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

One of the foremost contemporary Czech writers, Kundera is a novelist, poet, and playwright. His play The Keeper of the Keys, produced in Czechoslovakia in 1962, has long been performed in a dozen countries. His first novel, The Joke (1967), is a biting satire on the political atmosphere in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s. It tells the story of a young Communist whose life is ruined because of a minor indiscretion: writing a postcard to his girlfriend in which he mocks her political fervor.The Joke has been translated into a dozen languages and was made into a film, which Kundera wrote and directed. His novel Life Is Elsewhere won the 1973 Prix de Medicis for the best foreign novel. Kundera has been living in France since 1975. His books, for a long time suppressed in his native country, are once again published.The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984), won him international fame and was a successful English-language film. In this work Kundera moves toward more universal and philosophically tinged themes, thus transforming himself from a political dissident into a writer of international significance.

Linda Asher, a former fiction editor for "The New Yorker" has translated into English many French-language writers, including Restif de la Bretonne, Victor Hugo, George Simenon & Milan Kundera.

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