Stock Image

Identity

Milan Kundera

16,514 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0060175648 / ISBN 13: 9780060175641
Published by Harper Flamingo, NY, 1998
Condition: Like New Hardcover
From D.S. Gorton Books (Watertown, CT, U.S.A.)

AbeBooks Seller Since September 22, 2003

Quantity Available: 1

Buy Used
Price: US$ 35.00 Convert Currency
Shipping: US$ 4.50 Within U.S.A. Destination, Rates & Speeds
Add to basket

30 Day Return Policy

About this Item

first printing---by the author of "the Unbearable Lightness of Being"---in this short novel of 168 pages, Kundera ponders the "whys" of Love.the shifting landscape between reality and "what the mind creates in its solitude"----pristine condition--gift quality--in mylar dj cover and shipped in carton. Size: 12mo. Bookseller Inventory # 004518

Ask Seller a Question

Bibliographic Details

Title: Identity

Publisher: Harper Flamingo, NY

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Like New

Dust Jacket Condition: Like New

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

Milan Kundera's Identity  translated from the French by Linda Asher.

There 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 more than anything else "losing sight" of the loved one.

With 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 crosses the border between the real and the unreal, between what occurs in the world outside and what the mind creates in its solitude.

Of 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.

Review:

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.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Store Description

At home business.

Visit Seller's Storefront

Terms of Sale:

You may charge by credit card through the abe system. I do not process credit cards. Or if you prefer, purchase may be made with check money order or bank cheque. Will hold in reserve for 10 business days awaiting arrival of your check made payable to Doris Gorton, in U.S. dollars, whether by international money order, or a chek drawn upon U.S. bank.You may return if not completely satisfied, but you must e-mail your intention within 5 days of receipt of book. Thanks.


Shipping Terms:

Shipping costs are based on books weighing 2.2 LB, or 1 KG. If your book order is heavy or oversized, we may contact you to let you know extra shipping is required.

List this Seller's Books

Payment Methods
accepted by seller

Visa Mastercard American Express

Check Money Order