review L'Identité 103

10 thoughts on “L'Identité

  1. says:

    To these uestions he has no answerMilan Kundera is a philosopher in the garb of novelist; but a philosopher of life lived dreamed and yearned for; a philosopher who will not deal in abstract metaphysics and grand scheme of ideas that in the last analysis and against the banality of the real world bears little of its weight on who we are what we do and mostly importantly why we do itThrough the story of an odd people Jean Marc and Chantal who get together as a result of oddness in their previous lives Kundera explores the chemistry of a modern day relationship with an acute eye over the dimensionless mass of contradictions and conflicts of the social and the personal that in our day and age drives people into the abyss of dissatisfaction and ennui without there being a hope for salvation of a freeing revelation Perhaps an abyss made by our own hands because Jean Marc one day decides to write anonymous love letters to his partner Chantal to see how would she respond to the anonymity of a rude intrusion into their love life Because the gaze of love is a gaze that isolatesThe conseuences were catastrophic Despite the full knowledge and clear understanding of where they're heading basic human emotions of love revenge jealousy sadness suspicion disbelief all get together to play their part in a Shakespearean pantomime of Kafkaesue proportions about which even Nietzsche wouldn't have much to say except put his arms around the neck of a horse and cry in utter despairIt's a difficult book to paraphrase something I have felt with most novels of his that I have read And I do think it futile to give a synopsis of the plot and a sketch of its principal protagonists for talking about this novel in any other way would amount to reducing it down to the unreliability of a reader's perception when there's so much in there to see to perceive to muse and deliberate over; and so I'd end this short review with a recommendation please read it The word 'life' is a king of words The King word surrounded by other grand words The word 'adventure' The word 'future' And the word 'hope' By the way do you know the code name for the atom bomb they dropped on Hiroshima? 'Little Boy' That's a genius the fellow who invented that code They couldn't have dreamed up a better name Little boy kid tyke tot there's no word that's tender touching loaded with future June '16

  2. says:

    Kundera's second novel to be written in French was a bit of let down for me It felt nothing like the Kundera I've known from previous books He was trying way to hard here to be French through and through and even though Identity was written in the mid 90s it felt like a script for a nouvelle vague movie of the 50s or 60s It is also told in a spare prose which I'm not too sure suits Kundera Having said that there were still glimpses of his genius and the 'nothing is uite what it seems' approach did at least engage me to it's finale Identity is about a couple Chantal and Jean Marc she is recently divorced he is the younger boyfriend and Kundera weaves around the intimacies of the two lovers with flashbacks and dream seuences uncertain recollections of sex and other memories that are fitfully bought back to life And if there's a characteristic motif it is that of red hot blushing which has afflicted Chantal since her younger years which appears to symbolize her desire and embarrassment her anger and apprehension On returning to their apartment after a vacation in which Chantal complains of feeling old because Men don't turn to look at me any Jean Marc decides that what she needs is not a loving gaze but a flood of crude lustful looks settling on her with no good will no discrimination no tenderness or politeness So he begins to send her anonymous letters describing himself as someone spying on her and finding her very beautiful Although the letters at first serve to inflame the couple's lovemaking ultimately they end up backfiring Through a complex process the couple suffer what might be called the shameful objectification that Kundera has described elsewhere as a threat in the intrusive modern era As a result the two become estranged from each other thus losing their identities as lovers As the novel progresses things grows and surreal and Kundera himself even intervenes at the end Seeing is a big theme here where Kundera constantly dwells on the diversities of vision with lots of glances of eyes focused or eyes clouded The outside world is only really represented by an intrusive sister in law the advertising agency where Chantal works and a dash through the Channel Tunnel But what is in fact real and what is not?His metaphysical musings here aren't as engaging as what I'd come to expect and the novel lacks Kundera's ironic edge but there was just about enough bait on the end of the hook to keep me interested

  3. says:

    Whenever I'm at a loss for what to read next and don't want to take any risks I reread either Vonnegut Murakami or Kundera I've probably read this book five times but I love him so I don't care You know maybe it's that old problem of how sometimes with really distinctive authors all their works sort of blur together retroactively but wow Only the first like twenty pages seemed familiar to me even though I am sure I've read this several times before The whole last third where everything gets all dreamy weird and cerebral and symbolic you know during the view spoiler orgy hide spoiler

  4. says:

    This small gripping novel is the story of two lovers Jean Marc and Chantal It moves from one to the other following assumptions emotions beliefs and ideas some shared but mostly held in secret It's about being seen and about how we see each other Identity is not fixed but is drawn from the mirrors around us One of the messages of this novel is that in order to love you need to be certain that you know who the other person is Once you start to doubt your lover's identity love is eroded In this novel when love starts to crumble the lovers encounter their own secret fears For Chantal this means being naked and for Jean Marc it means becoming a beggar The desperation of their own fears drive them back to the safety of their relationshipOne thread of the story concerns Jean Marc and his friend F who is nameless because he is rejected as a friend Jean Marc does not trust F any and withholds recognition of their shared past Throughout the book every trembling inner movement is echoed by some outer event even if only a passing glance or a uick conversation This gives the novel a sure rhythm

  5. says:

    A great novelist is like a gypsy fortune teller one whose wisdom and prophecies and rich tales are enhanced by the palpable rasp of the voice and the heat of her garlic breath in your face In this book Kundera is like one of those mechanical gypsy automatons behind glass that dispenses wisdom on pre written slips of paper from the hand of a hollow machineIn Identity Kundera offers much food for thought on the nature of personal identity; what we think of ourselves and what others think of us; and what social environmental and genetic forces make us who we are Much is pondered about the two faces we show the public and private onesI have to admit for about half the way I found this all to be very stimulating and admirable but then at some point I realized that this was supposed to be a novel and I kept waiting for all the brilliant insights to be framed by a credible narrative and characters In the end it ends up being a philosophy lecture that wears out its welcome It has the feel of a short story at best and doesn't even achieve the weight of a novellaKundera seems to think that all of his scintillating observational ideas will somehow animate the cardboard characters he's created It's instructive reading this on the heels of reading Turgenev's Fathers and Sons wherein the characters history and situations illustrate and deepen the thematic issues The two books side by side show the difference between a significant and an insignificant novel Because in the end it's the depth of story and character that make the ideas and themes work not the other way aroundI liked a lot of what Kundera had to say and liked the Bach like precision in which he said those things but by the end it all plays like some Robert Bresson French movie where everyone has blank expressions Kundera's humans seem perfunctory like manneuins on which he has placed very stylish garb They are blackboards on which great thoughts are written out elaborately in chalkIt's a coldly efficient book that resorts to a trick so cheap and old for its finale that you'll lose some of your respect for the author He's better than this KRKY with a minor modification in 2016

  6. says:

    Identity was interesting than I initially thought however I found that it freuently repeated itself and a lot of it was just filler

  7. says:

    Lightness of Book 158 gramsBook of Laughter? NoLiterary Immortality LowLaughable Loves count 1Naked characters count 2My least favourite Kundera book so far I was excited by the concept of the novel and some parts were interesting to read but others were predictable and there was a lack of magical passages which leave an impression as in his previous books I'd read or am I just getting used to his style? The latter end was especially disappointing as it felt disjointed and somewhat artificial I think I might stop seeing you for a while MilanHe stares at her unable to understand what she is saying what she means She is sad because men don't turn to look at her any ? He wants to say to her And me? What about me? Me who goes searching for you for kilometres on the beach me who shouts your name in tears and who could chase after you the length and breadth of the planet?He doesn't say it Instead slowly his tone low he repeats her words 'Men don't turn to look at you any Is that really why you're sad?'

  8. says:

    Umm so where to start with this one? This was my first reading by Kundera of course it wouldn't be the last but this book was just I don't knowIt was weird I had the feeling sometimes that I was reading L'Écume des jours by Boris Vian there were so many resemblances with regard to the abnormality and the absurd I liked how Kundera tried to draw an image of the nowadays relationships with all the contradictions the conflicts the toxicity and all the dissatisfaction of couplesIt was weird reading this left me in a weird state of mind especially at the very last page And it was definitely so gripping I felt all along that I was getting nothing from it but at the same time I didn't want to put it down I still wanted to keep reading

  9. says:

    Milan Kundera and I are both April fools so I have always felt a sense of kinship with him I do not know if April Fool's Day is celebrated in the Czech Republic but I pretend that it is and that he too endured fake cakes and tricks as a child Kundera is best known for the beautifully titled Unbearable Lightness of Being This book is similar in that it explores human relationships but it's also very differentKundera has lived in France for many years and this book feels French it feels like a French movie Identity is a brief novel exploring a relationship As we read the book we're inside the head of Chantal and then we're inside the head of Jean Marc her lover It's hard to figure out who they are and what they feel but I think that's the point of the novel It displays the ways in which emotions shift and relationships change My favorite scene from the book is half way through Chantal and Jean Marc are at a restaurant for dinner and observe a silent couple at another table and they discuss what that means You can't measure the mutual affection of two human beings by the number of words they exchange says Jean Marc and then goes on to describe his aunt in Perigord who talks and talks without stop and replicates in words everything she sees and everything she does Being so intimately involved in the pushpull of their relationship is uncomfortable at times In my last review I critiued Michael Chabon for his lack of emotion Well Kundera is at the other end of that spectrum Feelings and relationship are the core of the story Identity is a uick yet emotionally affective read Jealousy codependence insecurities all are witnessed here But what is most clear after reading this book is how relationships shift and change sometimes in the span of just a few minutes And then you're often right back where you started

  10. says:

    As a novel it falls short in my opinion especially toward the end and won't have got than 3 stars As a peace of writing in general that discusses ideas it is a 5 star book It could have been better if it was shorter even though it is one of Kundera's shortest novels Don't make it your debut Kundera

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read ✓ eBook or Kindle ePUB ↠ Milan Kundera


Loved oneWith stunning artfulness in expanding and playing variations on the meaningful moment Milan Kundera has made this situation and the vague sense of panic it inspires the very fabric of his new novel Here brevity goes hand in hand with intensity and a moment of bewilderment marks the start of a labyrinthine journey during which the reader repeatedly c A great novelist is like a gypsy fortune teller one whose wisdom and prophecie

characters L'Identité

Milan Kundera's Identitynbsp translated from the French by Linda AsherThere are situations in which we fail for a moment to recognize the person we are with in which the identity of the other is erased while we simultaneously doubt our own That also happens with couples indeed above all with couples because lovers fear than anything else losing sight of the Whenever I'm at a loss for what to read next and don't want to take any risks

read ✓ eBook or Kindle ePUB ↠ Milan Kundera

Rosses the border between the real and the unreal between what occurs in the world outside and what the mind creates in its solitudeOf all contemporary writers only Kundera can transform such a hidden and disconcerting perception into the material for a novel one of his finest most painful and most enlightening Which surprisingly turns out to be a love story Lightness of Book 158 gramsBook of Laughter? NoLiterary Immortality LowLaughab

  • Hardcover
  • 176
  • L'Identité
  • Milan Kundera
  • English
  • 13 May 2020
  • 9780060175641

About the Author: Milan Kundera

Milan Kundera is a Czech and French writer of Czech origin who has lived in exile in France since where he became a naturalized French citizen in He is best known for The Unbearable Lightness of Being The Book of Laughter and Forgetting and The JokeKundera has written in both Czech and French He revises the French translations of all his books; these therefore are not considered tr.