Translated by Linda Asher. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. Metaphysical speculation was once happily married to the novel, practiced to great effect by masters like Voltaire and Diderot. Since the end of the Enlightenment, however, the philosophical novel -- as opposed to the novel of ideas or the novel of social protest -- has become a rarity. Milan Kundera , who has more or less single-handedly reinvented the form for his own use, is careful to point out that his novels are not engaged in the translation of philosophy into fiction. His modus operandi is to bring ideas into play -- floating hypotheses, improvising, interrogating.
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In the book, Kundera manages to weave together a number of plot lines, characters and themes in just over pages. While the book has a narrative, it mainly serves as a way for Kundera to describe a philosophy about modernity, technology, memory and sensuality. The novel is a meditation on the effects of modernity upon the individual's perception of the world.
It is told through a number of plot lines that slowly weave together until they are all united at the end of the book. Each plot shows a different point-of-view into Kundera's concept of the dancer and provides a perspective on modernity, memory and sensuality. By the end of the book, all of these plots have been brought together in a single location and the characters interact, showing how the ideals they represent interact in the world.
Kundera even manages to tie the modern to the past by having Vincent meet the Chevalier as they both depart. By having these characters meet, Kundera again illustrates how the idea of sensuality and pleasure have changed as technology provides humanity with tools that speed us to our destination and demand our attention. For a page novel, there are a large number of characters in this book. Many of them have heavy symbolic qualities and their interactions appear to be a way in which Kundera is illustrating the philosophy he directly describes in the dialog of the story.
There is no single central theme in the book, although the title suggests that the speed of modern living is the key concept that is the root cause of the events of the book.
Several events in the book are tied to the speed of movement, such as speeding cars or slow walks through a garden. Kundera ties slowness to the act of remembering, and speed to the act of forgetting. When one wants to savour, remember, or prolong a moment, one moves and acts slowly. On the other hand, one travels fast in order to forget a past experience. For example, after Vincent's disastrous night at the chateau, he gets on his motorcycle and drives home as fast as he can in order to leave behind the site of his failed romantic endeavor.
There is also the suggestion that speed creates vulgarity, as suggested by the parallel seductions held at the chateau. Vincent's seduction of Julie is misguided and ultimately fails. Madame de T's seduction of the Chevalier is deliberate and provides them with a night of pleasure.
Speed and failure are also associated as Vera comments that slowness has protected Milan in the past. This suggests that serious consideration requires slowness; speed encourages rash decisions and ultimately failure.
Kundera introduces the concept of the dancer early in the book. The dancer, defined in the story, is a person who constantly seeks the infinite and invisible audience that modern media offers. The fame that a successful dancer gathers has a dramatic effect on the life of the dancer and upon people who seek out the dancer those who consider themselves "elect".
The entire storyline of Berck and Immaculata seems to represent this theme both in the literal story that is told as well as through the symbolism of their names and actions. For example, Immaculata, a "night bird" who troubles Berck's sleep before his rise to fame, becomes Berck's nightmare at the conference. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article does not cite any sources.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Works by Milan Kundera. The Owner of the Keys Jacques and his Master.
Categories : novels Novels by Milan Kundera French-language novels Philosophical novels 20th-century Czech novels. Hidden categories: Articles lacking sources from June All articles lacking sources Articles containing French-language text. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history.
Slowness by Milan Kundera (1995)
There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting. The novel open with the narrator driving down a French highway to a weekend away with his wife in a chateau-turned-hotel. Some obvious points emerge. It is split between 1.
Slowness by Milan Kundera
Milan Kundera and his wife, Vera, set off from Paris for a getaway night in one of those chateaux that the French have converted into inns. A little peace, a whiff of classic order, a touch of greenery never mind that a highway runs just outside. The author thinks of cars and motorcycles; he thinks of modern life, of speed and slowness and the significance of each, and how they relate to memory and forgetting. Ideas attend dressed as characters, and characters as ideas. Replete with duck and excellent Bordeaux, Kundera lies awake populating the chateau with the 18th century Mme. Vera wants to sleep, but the characters keep trooping through the bedroom. But he gets there.
One might say Kundera is a modern day philosopher. Through the characters in his novels, he analyzes the actions and emotions of people as they relate to his various philosophical theories. Using a handful of characters whose only connection is their presence one fateful night at the same hotel in France, Kundera demonstrates his theories. But he lost me on this novel. The plot was a little too abstract, the characters abstruse, and the writing dis-jointed. The author jumps abruptly from character to character, scene to scene… traveling through time with a bit of magical realism.
In the book, Kundera manages to weave together a number of plot lines, characters and themes in just over pages. While the book has a narrative, it mainly serves as a way for Kundera to describe a philosophy about modernity, technology, memory and sensuality. The novel is a meditation on the effects of modernity upon the individual's perception of the world. It is told through a number of plot lines that slowly weave together until they are all united at the end of the book.
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