Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Ignorance: A Novel by Milan Kundera

Ignorance: A Novel (original 2000; edition 2003)

by Milan Kundera

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,758244,008 (3.7)51
Title:Ignorance: A Novel
Authors:Milan Kundera
Info:Harper Perennial (2003), Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Ignorance by Milan Kundera (2000)



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 51 mentions

English (17)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  All (24)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
A brilliant book by Milan Kundera as usual, my only problem with it is that it has the exact same setup, environment and almost characters of "The unbearable lightness if being". It almost felt like a new part in the same book ( )
  MohammedMamdouhKamel | May 27, 2016 |
A meditation on home and memory from a European emigre.
  otterley | Aug 7, 2015 |
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 :)


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.
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Milan Kunderaprimary authorall editionscalculated
De Haan, MartinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
"What are you still doing here?" Her tone wasn't harsh, but it wasn't kindly, either; Sylvie was indignant.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:36 -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)

» see all 4 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
6 avail.
84 wanted

Popular covers


Average: (3.7)
1 8
1.5 4
2 20
2.5 8
3 101
3.5 17
4 132
4.5 10
5 78

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 114,483,249 books! | Top bar: Always visible