Sunday 27 June 2021

Book Review: Slowness by Milan Kundera (Modern Classics)

Title: Slowness
Author: Milan Kundera
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 1997 (1995)
Format: Paperback
Genre: Modern Classic
Source: Gift

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 just merely a perpetual show emptied of every intimacy and every joy.


Slowness is a light novel that philosophizes on modernity, memory and sensuality. While described in the blurb as the 'lightest' of his novels, I don't feel Slowness is in any way Kundera's best work, and perhaps that is because the 'lightness', at least to my mind, represents the fact that the story is often superseded by the philosophical discussion. Not that I'm saying that in a completely negative way; I still found the book a quick, enjoyable, and thoughtful read. It's simply not my favourite of Kundera's works, and it's not one I would recommend for first-time readers. I am giving it 5 stars still, as I love Kundera's writing in general and Slowness offered some interesting thoughts on several topics/themes, but I would suggest picking it up only if you are already a Kundera fan or have at least read one or two of his other pieces first.

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