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Identity: A Novel by Milan Kundera

Identity: A Novel (original 1998; edition 1999)

by Milan Kundera

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1,939235,294 (3.45)15
Title:Identity: A Novel
Authors:Milan Kundera
Info:Harper Perennial (1999), Paperback, 176 pages
Collections:Your library

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Identity by Milan Kundera (1998)



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English (17)  Italian (2)  French (2)  Hebrew (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (23)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
With the intermingling of two individuals in love, identities change, and any love has an identity all in its own right. In this novel, Kunera has written the nightmare that that individual love would have, could it dream.

Identity is a short compelling tale of a man and woman, in love and in panic. As powerful as it is brief, the novel begins slowly and then begs to be read in one sitting, touching simply on everything that makes a love story so fearful and surreal.

Recommended. ( )
1 vote whitewavedarling | Apr 16, 2014 |
Peut-être un 3.5 étoiles, mais pas plus que ça. Je préfère son livre ' L'ignorance '. J'ai encore à lire ' La Lenteur ' pour terminer cette trilogie de kundera rédigée en Français. C'est un thème qui fait réfléchir, le thème de notre identité, des masques que nous portons en société et avec ceux qu'on aime. Mais ce n'était pas aussi fort comme rédaction, que dans ' l'ignorance '. C'est amusant, et je voulais savoir ce qui va arriver, mais c'est pas à la hauteur des autres ouvrages de kundera. ( )
  pathogenik | Mar 2, 2014 |
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 relationship.

One 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 more, 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 quick conversation. This gives the novel a sure rhythm.
( )
  astrologerjenny | Apr 24, 2013 |
خلال الاسبوع الماضي جردت مكتبتي، واخترت الكتب التي لا تتجاوز ال٣٠٠ صفحة ، والتي احببت اقتناءها ايضاً، الفكرة في ذلك هي رغبتي في اشباع نهم القراءة الذي يزورني حالياً، وانهاء كتاب يوميا .
الهوية لكونديرا رواية تنثر بين كفيك اسئلة ، عن الحياة ، عن نفسك، عن العلاقات الانسانية ، عن كلّ شيء، وبعد أن تنتهي من القراءة أنت لا تنتهي فعلياً، تعود للتفكر والتأمل فيما مررت به من احداث .
احبّ هذا النوع من الكتب، شخصيات قليلة ومركزة ، لا تضيع في فوضى ومتاهات . أنت مثل المتفرج أمام عرض مسرحي طويل .
كتاب جميل وخفيف .
( )
  ihanq | Dec 7, 2012 |
A throw away comment by Chantal leads to her lover writing anonymous love letters to her. Chantal hides these letters and fantasizes about her admirer. After a while she suspects her lover, and also suspects that he knows where she has been hiding the letters. An unexpected visit from her former husband's sister and her young children disrupts her home and leads to Chantal making a sudden trip to London. Her lover, Jean Marc decides to follow. She becomes involved in a bizarre orgy with an elderly man who fancied her long ago. It turns out that this is a dream, but whose dream and when did it start? ( )
  SimB | Jul 16, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Milan Kunderaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Haan, Martin deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marchi, EnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A hotel in a small town on the Normandy coast, which they found in a guidebook.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060930314, Paperback)

The reader sits down to dinner with Chantal, who is waiting for her lover, Jean-Marc, in a seaside hotel. While waiting to be served, she overhears two waitresses discuss the unexplained disappearance of a family man. This blatant foreshadowing posits the central question of Identity: what we think we know about our intimates is predicated on projection, primal yearnings, and the deep denial of life's impermanence. Identity reads like a musical exercise; its playing out of themes is reminiscent of a fugue. An image dropped into the narrative will be revisited from a different vantage point, tossed back and forth between the lovers; out of it will be teased every possible meaning. The 51 sparse, tiny chapters reinforce the fuguelike feel.

The plot is simple: Jean-Marc arrives at the hotel; Chantal is out walking. Near misses and mistaken identities characterize his frantic search for her, offering Kundera the opportunity to philosophize on the unknowability of the "other." They reunite; Chantal blurts out the distressing thought that's plagued her day: "Men don't turn to look at me anymore." This launches the protagonists into sketchy flashbacks, stilted dialogues, and interior monologues, all loosely bound by their embarkation on an erotic journey.

Key bits from the characters' pasts become signature refrains. Chantal, for example, has buried a son, who died at the age of 5. Strands such as this are dropped lightly in the narrative, to be pulled through later chapters like a needle with different colored threads. Later, for example, the boy's death will trigger her unpleasant realization--that it was, in the end, a "dreadful gift." Children, she thinks, keep us hopeful in the world, because "it's impossible to have a child and despise the world as it is; that's the world we've put the child into." Thus, her child's death has set her free to live out her genuine disdain of the world. Although the illogical extremes of Kundera's thought can be wildly dissonant and wondrously shocking, this reiterative device of Identity lacks energy. There's no sense of discovery about these characters. They remain flat; the style effects one like an Ingmar Bergman film when one is in the mood for Sam Peckinpah.

As if in serendipitous response to her pain in getting older, Chantal receives an anonymous "love" note. More notes follow. Will they prove Jean-Marc's attempt to sweeten her sad disclosure? Her sexual awakening begins to blur the boundaries of what's real. All well and good, but somewhere along the line, Kundera concludes that Chantal is weak because she's older. Age, we are asked to believe, becomes a wedge between the lovers, even though Chantal is only a few years older than Jean-Marc, who is himself only 42. And in the exploration of her sexuality on the wax and wane, Kundera succumbs to cliché: she is consumed too often by too many flames, and red is all used up as a symbol of violent passion. On the subject of male and female desire, Kundera is incomparably funny, and the novel sports some nervy images--masturbating fetuses; our human community joined in a sea of saliva; the ubiquity of spying eyes, harvesting information for profit; the human gaze itself, a marvel, jaggedly interrupted by the mechanical action of the blink. Kundera betrays a witty revulsion for the values and mores of the late 20th century.

But with sentences such as, "This is the real and the only reason for friendship: to provide a mirror so the other person can contemplate his image from the past, which, without the eternal blah-blah of memories between pals, would long ago have disappeared," the reading experience reduces to an annoyance. Perhaps this is the fault of the translator attempting a breezy, colloquial tone. But it's sloppy and careless. Still the novel's an entertainment, a good companion. Reading it is like passing an afternoon in a sidewalk café, catching up with an old friend, say, with whom one has shared youthful cynicism and diatribes against the ignominies of human behavior. One will look back on such an afternoon and remember too many Galloises smoked, too many cups of coffee, moments of intense engagement that fell, alas, into the indulgence of a "retro" ennui.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:36 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Chantal begins to receive letters from a secret admirer that, after a while, begin to affect the relationship she has with her younger lover Jean-Marc

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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