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Slowness: A Novel

Slowness: A Novel

Written by Milan Kundera

Narrated by Richmond Hoxie


Slowness: A Novel

Written by Milan Kundera

Narrated by Richmond Hoxie

ratings:
3.5/5 (22 ratings)
Length:
3 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jul 31, 2012
ISBN:
9780062215567
Format:
Audiobook

Description

Milan Kundera's lightest novel, a divertimento, an opera buffa, Slowness is also the first of this author's fictional works to have been written in French.

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. Underlying this libertine fantasy is a profound meditation on contemporary life: about the secret bond between slowness and memory, about the connection between our era's desire to forget and the way we have given ourselves over to the demon of speed. And about "dancers" possessed by the passion to be seen, for whom life is merely a perpetual show emptied of every intimacy and every joy.

Publisher:
Released:
Jul 31, 2012
ISBN:
9780062215567
Format:
Audiobook


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What people think about Slowness

3.5
22 ratings / 6 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    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 constructs on nearly every page.

    I reread this in the last year or so, largely to see if it had become dated. It hadn't. I still marvelled at this spare masterpiece.
  • (3/5)
    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 loved them all. In fact, I'd just re-read TULOB again and was as impressed and immersed as last time, the simplistic, anti-leftist rants with which it concludes aside (strangely, I didn't remember those from my previous reading). So much did I enjoy it that I decided to read one of his later works that I hadn't tried before. And so I picked up 'Slowness'...

    I'm going to re-title it 'Slightness' (unbearable, but there it is...). Is that due to the philosophical slights of hand that the author performs? No. To me, it really did feel rather insubstantial. The novella comprises two romances staged across a single night, one set in current times and the other in the eighteenth century. I think that the modern day episodes were supposed to be funny. I just found them rather silly. The philosophical elements felt bolted on. None of the characters were believable. I wanted to like it. Although it pains me to say it, if I'd come to this book first, I might never have read the others. Perhaps I've missed the point. Please, someone persuade me that I have...
  • (4/5)
    Slowness is a very funny, very short book. Plotwise, nothing much happens...a group of semi-important people meet and talk shit to one another. One character unsuccessfully tries to have a pool side tryst. An old Czech scientist does handstands. All of this intertwined with a 200 year old story involving a lady, her husband, and her two lovers and the occasional present-day outbursts from Kundera's wife. It's a difficult story to describe, but it's interesting and very enjoyable nonetheless...
  • (2/5)
    Staggers between unfunny farce and unoriginal philosophy like the archetypal dinner party bore. In spite of the slimness of this book, the prose is for the most part windy and flabby, and it's all rather self-satisfied. Kundera is taking the piss with this one, really.
  • (3/5)
    The gist of the Slowness story can be told in maybe a couple chapters. Most of the content has nothing to do directly with the main plot, but outrageous digression and meditation on the philosophy of pleasure. It's a meditation of pleasure, or rather, the endangerment of pleasure of slowness. The entire book circuits around the question Milan Kundera addresses toward the very beginning: what happens to the pleasure of slowness? Immediately one can conceive the substantial emphasis, connotation, implications, and gestures on sexual (carnal, bodily, physical) pleasure.Two stories run parallel over a vast interval of time at an identical location, some chateau in Prague. In late 18th century, Madame de T. summoned a young nobleman to her chateau as a screen of her secret lover Marquis from her husband. Madame de T. seduced the young man and lasciviously obliged him an evening of ecstatic explosion. In the same chateau 200 years later, a man named Vincent, at an entomology conference, lost the beautiful Julie after some eye-bulging sex by the pool at the chateau and whereupon suffered the ridicule of his peers.Reading this book is so much like witnessing some farce into which one renders helpless to stick his oars. A man Berck, an avid practitioner of "dancer politics" (seeking glory but not power, always centering on stage and keeping others off-stage), made a fool of himself pretending to kiss some AIDS patient to paint the image of a well-wisher. Berck then went off to Somalia and greeted the famished children not through a surge of vanity but because he felt obliged to make up for a botched dance step. Then entered some Czech entomologist who, by merely aloud what he thought, was deprived of the very meaning of his life. He was to give a speech of his research at the conference. But instead he found Vincent and Julie making out by the pool. Another woman Immaculata decided to jilt her cameraman lover, walked out the hotel room where they had had sex (to be more precisely, a sequence of parading anger, forcing submission, the actual sex, falling over, throwing stuffs around, pulling a tantrum, feigning fear, sex again and so on...), stormed through the pool and realized with utter clarity the snare closing around her: her pursuer behind and the water ahead. She jumped into the pool like an awkward diver pricked with cramping limbs.I kept asking myself the same question during the one-sitting read: what's the point of all these people and sex talk? Surely Kundera had achieved what he had anticipated-to slow down the story of the two couples and stuff in outrageous digression and meditation of sexual politics. But I think he had gone too far in trying to establishment some connection with Kissinger and this journalist woman who had a morbid crush on him and wrote about her crush in a book.If this book tries to convey a point or some life lesson, it's hedonism. Pleasure cannot be experienced to the full unless it slowly works the way up to climax. It aims (maybe a little too high) at the secret bond between slowness and memory, about how speed infringes slowness and happiness. To me it's a book that somehow loses its bearing. Pass it if you have better books to read.
  • (3/5)
    won't change your life, but it might make you feel a bit more sophisticated. An excellent return on investment given the page count.