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Ignorance: A Novel by Milan Kundera
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Ignorance: A Novel (original 2000; edition 2003)

by Milan Kundera

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1,578204,633 (3.69)46
Member:beulahry
Title:Ignorance: A Novel
Authors:Milan Kundera
Info:Harper Perennial (2003), Paperback, 208 pages
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Ignorance by Milan Kundera (2000)

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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Kundera est superbe comme d'habitude. Le même esprit philosophique et moqueur que j'aime. C'est une belle histoire de nostalgie, de la nature humaine, de la recherche d'amour, de la question de la patrie.
J'ai envie de lire un autre Kundera aussitôt :)

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I have read this book in its original version, ' L'Ignorance ' , during October 2012.



Like the other Kundera books that I've read in the past, 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' and 'Immortality', this book takes on a philosophical tone, while scratching at the surface of some human relationships. The atmosphere reigning the 236 pages of this book is the Nostalgia:

“The Greek word for "return" is nostos. Algos means "suffering." So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.”

It is a nostalgia of two Czech immigrants, Irena and Josef. They're not the characters to fall in love with, and the other characters are the same: they're shallow, egocentric people who do not share any affectionate bond with those around them.Their return to their homeland after the communist regime was overthrown wasn't a nice return. they couldn't relate to the people there. You can see how when they left, they left behind them a mess of malfunctioning relationships, with family members and friends. When they return, these complications accentuate even more. Yet, both main characters reconcile with their past after a wicked turn of events, and in an emotional way. I find them quite cold, nonetheless.

Kundera is certainly throwing some autobiographical content into this novel. He, too, like Irena, had to leave and went to France, and now identifies himself as French (He's a French citizen). He had political problems with the communist regime, and the Czech passport was taken away from him. Now, he visits the Czech Republic in incognito, like a stranger. That's how Irena and Josef felt: strangers in their hometown. So, I am sure Kundera KNOWS what he's talking about in this book, this is a topic that is rooted in his very experience, and he translated it into this novel. That fact makes me appreciate the novel even more.

I do not wish to spoil the book for those who haven't read it. So, I will refrain myself from discussing the story's plot. It isn't a typical plot, it reads more like a journal. It is about the journey that the characters are on. It's a delightful page-turner read. He questions the notion of patriotism, love, nostalgia, and intimacy in a pop-philosophical satirical tone.

I give this book 4 stars out of 5. It is a lovely little book, and I am eager to read other Kundera books :) ( )
  pathogenik | Mar 2, 2014 |
Plot: Story of emigre's who left their country and the experience memory and returning to the homeland. The author really presents an essay with a story and compares it to the Odyssey and the homecoming.
Thoughts:
I liked it better than The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I liked the essay part of the story on memory and emigrent experience. I think the message that Kundera gives with his bits on sexual encounters are very real. He doesn't make it more than what it is. I could do without the detail but I appreciate what he is saying. ( )
  Kristelh | Feb 22, 2014 |
IGNORANCE by Milan Kundera
A meditation (as many of Kundera’s books are) on the meaning of identity, belonging, loss and memory.

Utilizing Homer’s ODYSSEY as a touchstone, Kundera tells the story of two Czech émigrés, a woman and a man. Having briefly met in a bar 20 years prior, both return to Prague in 1989, 20 years after they both separately left when the Russian Communists stormed the country.

Irena living in Paris and Josef in Denmark, both have lost their Czech identity and returning to visit friends and family they are faced with memories and awkwardness. Where do they belong – in their adopted or home countries?

Irena never forgot having met Josef but Josef has no recall. They meet again by happenstance and spend one brief night together.

Kundera is a master at unveiling these tales. Filled with philosophy, meaningfulness and the anxiety of living. In just under 200 pages he weaves a masterful tale. ( )
  berthirsch | Jun 16, 2013 |
"Me imagino la emoción de dos seres que vuelven a verse después de muchos años. En otros tiempos se han frecuentado, y creen por lo tanto, que están vinculados por la misma experiencia, por los mismos recuerdos. ¿Los mismos recuerdos? Ahí precisamente empieza el malentendido: No tienen los mismos recuerdos; los dos conservan del pasado dos o tres situaciones breves, pero cada uno las suyas; sus recuerdos no se parecen; no se encuentran; incluso cuantitativamente no pueden compararse: El uno se acuerda del otro más de lo que éste se acuerda de él; primero porque la capacidad de memoria difiere de un individuo a otro (lo cual aún sería una respuesta aceptable para cada uno de ellos), pero también (y eso cuesta más admitirlo) porque la importancia de uno para el otro no es la misma." ( )
  darioha | Apr 30, 2012 |
The ease with which Milan Kundera sets up and writes this wonderful novel is remarkable, and it was a pleasure to return to work by Kundera since I read Die unerträgliche Leichtigkeit des Seins in 1992. The mention of that earlier novel is also of relevance to this excellent novel, Die Unwissenheit.

While the main theme of the former book is the escape and flight into exile, the themes of the latter are return (visit), memories and nostalgia. These themes are explored on a philosophical level, by examining the mythical voyages of Odysseus, and in life by visits, first of Czech people travelling abroad to visit those in exile, and later a return to Prague. The rift is enormous. In forty years, it seems the memories of people in Prague were frozen, while that of the exiles moved on. Where two former acquaintances both lived abroad, the gap seems double as big, and memories, faded or nearly unretrievable.

Beautiful descriptions of Prague and some astute comments on Communism. ( )
  edwinbcn | Oct 3, 2011 |
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Milan Kunderaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
De Haan, MartinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060002107, Paperback)

Bypassing the question of whether you can ever go home again, Milan Kundera's Ignorance tackles instead what happens when you actually get there. Ignorance is the story of two Czechs who meet by chance while traveling back to their homeland after 20 years in exile. Irena, who fled the country in 1968 with her now-deceased husband Martin, returns to Prague only to find coldness and indifference on the part of her former friends. Josef, who emigrated after the Russian invasion, is back in Prague to fulfill a wish of his beloved late wife. As fate would have it, the two have met before in their former lives, and the before-skirted passionate encounter is now destined to transpire. However, as in the story of Odysseus, which this novel so deliberately parallels, every homecoming brings with it a conflicting set of emotions so powerful that one has to question whether the voyage is really worth the pain. Expertly tackling the philosophical and emotional themes of nostalgia, memory, love, loss, and endurance, Kundera continues to astound readers with his masterful ability to understand and articulate issues so central to the human condition. --Gisele Toueg

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:03 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A man and a woman meet by chance while returning to their homeland, which they had abandoned 20 years earlier when they chose to become exiles. Will they manage to pick up the thread of their strange love story, interrupted almost as soon as it began and then lost in the tides of history?… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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