Paul JB's Reviews > Slowness

Slowness by Milan Kundera
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Nov 16, 10

Read in October, 2010

I think Kundera's prose is becoming ever more free form in his old age - I can almost envisage him simply rattling the entire book off verbatim in some ad hoc after dinner speech. If this sounds like a criticism then it isn't intentional; even when he seems like he's spraying his life philosophy indiscriminately in every direction he still hits more often than he misses, and I suppose that still the best thing I can say about his work is that I have never read (nor expect to read) anything quite like it. More than any other writer, for me, he appears to sidestep the entire literary establishment (or, rather, my admittedly quite impoverished conception thereof) and instead produce work that must seem infuriatingly aloof to so many.

If I could make one criticism of Kundera's later work, it would be that he occasionally begins to inhibit the role of an old professor who has become so convinced of his own theories that he sometimes forgets to explain them fully to a new audience. As a consequence, those tempted by the book's short length to make it their first foray into Kundera's writing might be disappointed by an apparent lack of depth that I would argue stems from an over-reliance on the inferred wisdom of his earlier prose.

But then again, this is probably almost completely redundant advice given that 90% of readers will automatically start with either 'The Unbearable Lightness Of Being' or 'The Joke', which are both great, much more conventional, and probably give a much better literary grounding to a writer who constantly threatens to move over to the field of philosophy altogether (but, I hope, never does - it would weigh him down so)
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