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Slowness

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3.65  ·  Rating details ·  14,483 ratings  ·  939 reviews
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
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Paperback, 156 pages
Published April 11th 1997 by Harper Perennial (first published January 12th 1995)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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Ahmad Sharabiani
La lenteur = Slowness, Milan Kundera
Slowness (French: La Lenteur), published in 1995 in France, is a novel written in French by Milan Kundera. In the book, Kundera manages to weave together a number of plot lines, characters and themes in just over 150 pages. While the book has a narrative, it mainly serves as a way for Kundera to describe a philosophy about modernity, technology, memory and sensuality.
عنوانها: کندی؛ آهستگی؛ نویسنده: میلان کوندرا؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 2002 میلادی
عنوان: کندی؛
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Mutasim Billah
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: czech
"The degree of slowness is directionally proportional to the intensity of memory. The degree of speed is directionally proportional to the intensity of forgetting."

Slowness is a tale of modernity and sensuality. In this book, Kundera brings about a theory of the dancer, an idea where the dancer, his movements, his gestures and his interactions with the audience are susceptible to change in different perceptive environments. The book makes a nod towards Vivant Denon's No Tomorrow by borrowing
...more
Jim Fonseca
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was expecting a novel but this book is as much an essay or a work of philosophy given a bit of plot to move it along. It blends two stories of seduction in totally different time frames, one modern, one historic, with twists of irony and comedy. (The blurbs say two ‘love stories' but I don’t agree that a male professor struggling to pick up a female grad student at an academic conference is a love story. lol) The historic romance is that told in Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos, ...more
Steven Godin
Slowness opens with the driving of a car, whilst a motorcyclist is trying to overtake that car, but immediately my thoughts were honing in on just how long its going to take before Kundera introduces lovemaking into the narrative, or if not that, then a reference to lovemaking, or at least a reference to a woman's body, from the male perspective of course. It didn't take long - page two in fact. One minute we're taking a nice jolly ride to a Château, and then before you know it the driver of the ...more
Riku Sayuj
Leisure for Sale; Pleasure for Sale

or

The Non-Existent Choice


There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting.

Spoiler Alert: (view spoiler)

An author is reading an old book, while on vacation to the very spot in which that old book is set. He gets an idea of a modern version of the book (or is it mere
...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Sep 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013

There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting. Consider this utterly commonplace situation: a man is walking down the street. At a certain moment, he tries to recall something, but the recollection escapes him. Automatically, he slows down. Meanwhile, a person who wants to forget a disagreeable incident he has just lived through starts unconsciously to speed up his space, as if he were trying to distance himself from a thing still too close to him in time.
In
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Jason
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
An amuse bouche of philosophy / a thought exercise on pleasure and cultural pacing all wrapped up in multi-layer, era-splitting sexual rendezvous.

Dancers take the stage wanting to be seen, to perform for the vast unseen audience, they do not experience the moment for the themselves, they are on display. Rushing ahead to perform, to play a role, to gain the moral advantage. No pause can be sacrificed, no time to ponder or think, to savor or languish, the show must go on. This moment shall lapse
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Seemita
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
UNHURRIED DANCE

“Nothing in this novel stays a secret exclusive to two persons; everyone seems to live inside an enormous resonating seashell where every whispered word reverberates, swells, into multiple and unending echoes.”
Holding aloft this premise, Kundera draws four parallel nights of sensuality and lust, where, four stories come together to explore (and explode) the boundaries of pleasure, fidelity, esteem and memory. The story opens with the author visiting a chateau for
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dara
Oct 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
I probably shouldn't have read a book titled Slowness so quickly.
Mohit Parikh
Dec 15, 2012 rated it liked it
What the author cannot be accused here of is shoveling down half-formed, floating philosophies. One of them:
"In existential mathematics...two basic equations: the degree of slowness is directly proportion to the intensity of memory; the degree of speed is directly proportional to the intensity of forgetting."
He falls short; and that is because the intention is not to convince. The intention is to tantalize. Seduce. Play with your pride, redden your cheeks, lure you in then catch you unawares. If
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Alina
Aug 03, 2007 rated it liked it
Re-read this book the other day. Much better than the first time around. I still wish that Kundera had developed his first person story a little more, but I suppose that wasn't the point.

My favorite scene in the novel was that of the Czech entomologist caught up in an emotional state so far that he doesn't remember to deliver his paper at the conference. It is simultaneously hilarious and heart breaking. I felt my face turn red with his when he, 15 minutes after the fact, finally realized his e
...more
notgettingenough
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: french, humour, modern-lit
This isn't:

Just no.

It's more like:

NOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooo.

I'm sorry Kundera. I don't know if we are going to meet again, but the bridge-player in me isn't liking the odds.

------------------------------
A few months later: it turns out there is more to this story.

I wrote that in June, and put the book on the hall table ready to give to my local secondhand bookshop. I know, I felt sort of bad about that. It’s a lovely bookshop and deserves better.

My mother at the age of 81 is an entirely vo
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Amanda
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
For those who've read other Kundera works, I felt this was an abrupt introduction to his style. Perhaps other felt otherwise (anyone?), but I didn't feel there was anything in Slowness that Kundera did not present in much eloquent, effective way in his other books. Rather, I found Slowness too much a touch too vulgar and misogynistic.

High points:

"An ode to sensuous leisure, to the enjoyment of pleasure rather than just the search for it."
- This was actually a review on the back cover. But it'
...more
Keleigh
Apr 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
"...the degree of slowness is directly proportional to the intensity of memory; the degree of speed is directly proportional to the intensity of forgetting."

"The feeling of being elect is present, for instance, in every love relation. For love is by definition an unmerited gift; being loved without meriting it is the very proof of real love. If a woman tells me: I love you because you're intelligent, because you're decent, because you buy me gifts, because you don't chase women, because you do t
...more
Jim
What has become of "slowness" in a world that is growing smaller and moving ever faster? In this short novel Milan Kundera ties slowness to the act of remembering, and speed to the act of forgetting. When one wants to savor, remember, or prolong a moment, one moves and acts slowly. On the other hand, one travels fast in order to forget a past experience. For example, after Vincent's disastrous night at the chateau, he gets on his motorcycle and drives home as fast as he can in order to leave beh ...more
April
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As with every book by Kundera, I finished it and was stunned. I never really know where to begin with his books. I love them, that's for sure, and he's one of my favorite writers, but he touches upon so many things in each book that I always feel that I missed something! The beauty of Kundera's writing is the way he portrays the human psyche. I haven't read too many writers that do such a fantastic job of defining a character's thoughts as he does. What I really enjoyed about Slowness is that it ...more
Tanuj Solanki
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It could become, in a possible rebirth, the counter culture classic we have been waiting for. Apropos YOLO and FOMO.
Yigal Zur
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
we lost the the enjoyment in slowness say Kundera. his mathematics is that more fast more we forget. we forget the disasters of yesterday, if the hungry children were from somalia or ethiopia.
Richard
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, experimental, philosophical novel (in the loosest sense of the word) about the relationship between memory/forgetting and the pace of modern life. This could have been a complete mess but he manages the various strands of the story very well until the inevitable, farcical conclusion. Quite funny, too. Maybe this is the year he finally wins the Nobel...
Ahsan
I prefer the first two phases of Kundera's work, that ended in 1990 with publishing of Immortality. His latter works lack meat, almost divertimento-esque in nature. Kundera, if it makes sense, has become uber-Kundera; his writing, far too deconstructed for my taste.

Perhaps the fall of the Soviet Union has something to do with it. It's unthinkable, after all, to picture The Joke or Unbearable Lightness of Being without the lurking specter of the Soviet Union in the background. I like to think of
...more
Imad Khan
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
What an experience it was... The book, being only 150 pages detailed the premise of his story excellently.

He writes: "There is a Czech proverb that describes their easy indolence by a metaphor: "They are gazing at God's windows." A person gazing at God's windows is not bored; he is happy. In our world, indolence has turned into having nothing to do, which is a completely different thing: a person with nothing to do is frustrated, bored, is constantly searching for the activity he lacks."

"... an
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carlie
Nov 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I had to read this a couple of times to absorbe everything Milan Kundera was trying to say. It was worth the effort. Despite being a bit surreal, or pehaps because of it, the storyscape of this book is a bit more lush than in some of his other works. His characters are all blatent actors filling the roll of themselves- sometimes excessively so. Kundera's societal commentary runs rampent through the few books of his that I've read. It remains so with this one, also, but there seem to be more lay ...more
Jeremy
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of my least favorites of Milan Kundera's books (I love Kundera). However, the introduction should be mandatory reading for anyone who I call a friend. If you are ever in a bookstore or library pick it up and read the first chapter. You can skip the remainder of the book (I'll put other Kundera reviews up at some point).

Milan Kundera frequently begins his books with an observation in of the world. The story is then constructed illustrate his theory. As the title suggests it is about taking yo
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Hayden Ellington
As I am sitting at my computer, fingers hovering over and tapping different letters, I’m wondering what to write about Slowness. Slowness was an interesting read, that’s for sure. It’s my first Milan Kundera book that was given to me by a friend who didn’t want to collect the books she reads -I know, I don’t understand either!!!- anyway, I’m here, propped on my computer chair and wondering...

What did I think of this book? I’m a bit confused on that question. I know it made me think, but I also
...more
Paul JB
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 ...more
Czarny Pies
Nov 02, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People with time to waste.
Recommended to Czarny by: No one. I in fact read it against the advice of several knowledgeable readers.
Shelves: french-lit, étrons
Faute de pouvoir donner cinq etrons,je lui donne une etoile.

The Czechs should be eternally grateful to Milan Kundera for having written this clinker in French. The basic theme seems to be that modern man lives in an age of excessive physical speed. Because cars and motorcycles travel at a speed faster than man is capable of achieving with his own muscles, they project man into a state of ecstasy that is unnatural to him. He thus loses the pleasures of slowness which are natural to man. In our mo
...more
Nate D
Oct 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: even entimologists are humans
Recommended to Nate D by: chevaliers
Considering that this is mostly concerned with an assessment of the vanity and pettiness of all of humanity, and of camera-eyed, speed-frenzied modernity, this is surprisingly light-handed and brisk. Even when it's rapidly advancing a tightly inter-structured philosophical course of study. Partly because Kundera ultimately seems accepting of what he finds about his characters, even when it is far from flattering. People are all this way, but ultimately that's okay. It's just how they are. I gues ...more
Anna Baillie-Karas
Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I love Milan Kundera’s intellect, the way he can express complex ideas simply and his humour & light touch. Interesting thoughts about the pleasure of slowness (or whether people slow down when they’re happy & want to remember) and the current period ‘given over to the demon of speed’.

The ideas, honesty & prose are a joy, but there’s also casual sexism which I find tiresome.
...more
Lars
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Kundera is masterful at threading a narrative in the service of his personnal philosophy, as he demonstrates in Slowness. Kundera believes the fast-moving modern world has lost its sense of memory, speeding from one encounter or social performance to the next. The play of sexual relations (a common Kundera theme) figures prominently. He prefers that we linger more often in our moments of pleasure, drawing the experience out, creating more savorable memories. Kundera ties the plight of his modern ...more
Ben Jackson
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-shelf
This may be my favorite book, and that is saying something - I read a *lot.*

Milan Kundera has an ability - possibly more than any other living writer - to amaze me with a turn of a few words. I'll often find myself laughing out loud when reading him, not because his somethign funny happened in the book, but because his language went somewhere so wonderfully unexpected.

Slowness is the first book that Kunder wrote in French (as opposed to his native Czech), and there are some variations in his wri
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13,058 followers
Milan Kundera is a Czech and French writer of Czech origin who has lived in exile in France since 1975, where he became a naturalized French citizen in 1981. He is best known for The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, and The Joke.

Kundera has written in both Czech and French. He revises the French translations of all his books; these therefore are not considered tr
...more

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“There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting.

A man is walking down the street. At a certain moment, he tries to recall something, but the recollection escapes him. Automatically, he slows down.

Meanwhile, a person who wants to forget a disagreeable incident he has just lived through starts unconsciously to speed up his pace, as if he were trying to distance himself from a thing still too close to him in time.

In existential mathematics that experience takes the form of two basic equations: The degree of slowness is directly proportional to the intensity of memory; the degree of speed is directly proportional to the intensity of forgetting.”
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