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Immortality

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4.14  ·  Rating details ·  30,459 ratings  ·  1,731 reviews
This breathtaking, reverberating survey of human nature finds Kundera still attempting to work out the meaning of life, without losing his acute sense of humour. It is one of those great unclassifiable masterpieces that appear once every twenty years or so.

'It will make you cleverer, maybe even a better lover. Not many novels can do that.' Nicholas Lezard, GQ
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 3rd 1998 by Faber and Faber (first published January 12th 1990)
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Steven Godin
To become engaged within the first few pages of a book is always a good sign. However, at the back of my mind, history kept telling me that many other novels have started out in the stratosphere only to plummet to the bottom of the ocean. Milan Kundera's 'Immortality', starts great, gets better, and ended with a lump in my throat, and a soul that was struck by a chord. No actually, forget the single chord, this was more like an Orchestra going in full swing. Kundera has worked wonders here.

Witne
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Elyse  Walters
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal
........including the best first 2 pages of a book I've ever read!
Ahmad Sharabiani
Nesmrtelnost = Immortality, Milan Kundera
Immortality (Czech: Nesmrtelnost) is a novel in seven parts, written by Milan Kundera in 1988 in Czech. First published 1990 in French. English edition 345 p., translation by Peter Kussi. This novel springs from a casual gesture of a woman, seemingly to her swimming instructor. Immortality is the last of a trilogy that includes The Book Of Laughter And Forgetting, and The Unbearable Lightness Of Being.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه آگوست سال 1994 میلادی
عنوان: جا
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Violet wells
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
On one level you could reduce this novel to the sour grapes of a man who’s getting old and losing his privileged place in the world. Not that this belittles its aspiration or wisdom because how the self changes with age, how the declining façade impacts the core, is a fascinating and rich subject. Kundera suggests the self doesn’t significantly change from within but rather is bullied out of its natural gait by the way people see us, by the images they impose on us. Even we ourselves are constra ...more
Shelly
Jan 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of 3 books I would take to a desert island. A beautiful discussion on the nature of our legacy, what we decide to leave or not leave when we die. How that changes in time and how we can not do anything about it. Especially relevant to artists and writers. Delves into the nature of love and families while he is at it. It would take a life time to discuss this book.
Ted
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone afraid of post-moderism
Playful ... moving ... didactic ... erotic ... misleading ... satisfying ...

A couple years ago I bought four of Kundera’s books at once – this one, The Joke, Ignorance, and of course The Unbearable Lightness of Being – never having read a word written by him.

Immortality is the first that I’ve read.

I don’t know much about postmodernism in literature. I’ve read some novels that are called postmodernist. But there are many more … (view spoiler)
...more
Jenn(ifer)
I’m not going to give this book a “star” rating because can’t decide on one. There were parts of the novel that I found fascinating, parts that were completely confusing, and parts that were downright irrelevant. The beginning of the novel is very engaging. It sucks the reader right in. I was immediately interested in Kundera’s philosophy. Case in point: “There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of th ...more
Chris_P
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-diamonds
There's something unique about Kundera, apart from the obvious. He has so many elements that I otherwise dislike, like the fact that he intervenes directly or that he interrupts the plot every so often to endlessly talk about his views, and yet his books seem to have something that grabs me by the neck every time, making me devour 150 pages in a single day! Up until now, The Unbearable Lightness of Being was my favorite Kundera, with the others following not very close (not too far either). Immo ...more
Perry
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Cerebral Crosswinds over Parisian Fields
4.5 stars

Immortality is so rejuvenating to the reading experience, pulling Goethe and Hemingway from beyond, effortlessly using magical literary devices in pleasing ways. It should leave an indelible mark on the way you view a novel. One cannot describe the plot/theme without spoiling the trip.

When you begin reading Kundera, if you haven't read him before, it may help you to understand that he involves the writer (often a fictional character in himself) in
...more
Ben
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my first time reading Kundera. I picked it up in a bookstore on a whim and was completely enthralled. This author has a way of saying things I've always wanted to say, but never found the words to do so. He has a talent for observation that is cleverly, if not blatantly, philosophical. He's also very funny.
But enough about him, since one of his main points is that we all concern ourselves way too much with the personal lives of creative artists rather than their actual work. Hence, I s
...more
Mutasim Billah
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
“To be mortal is the most basic human experience, and yet man has never been able to accept it, grasp it, and behave accordingly. Man doesn't know how to be mortal. And when he dies, he doesn't even know how to be dead.”

I was torn between loving and hating this book but eventually I've come to like it a lot more with time. Love, because there are few writers with the gift of mixing fable and allegory, facts and fiction and metaphors into a delicious recipe called "the novel" like Kundera has sh
...more
Junta
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Junta by: Susie
Shelves: translated, czech, kundera
Of my favourite authors, Haruki Murakami is like my enigmatic, bohemian tutor; Fyodor Dostoyevsky my reclusive, yet highly proficient counselor; and Milan Kundera an amiable uncle full of wit and wisdom. While Kundera's stories in themselves are beautiful, it's his philosophical insights and observations about mankind which I can't get enough of - yes, this is someone who I can truly respect in raising their voice about the human condition.
When someone is young, he is not capable of conceiving o
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Jim Fonseca
Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing

This is a great book and I wish I had discovered it years ago, when it was translated from the Czech in 1991. I liked it much more than Unbearable Lightness of Being. A blurb says the book thoroughly explores “the great themes of existence” which is quite a task to pull off in 345 pages, but Kundera makes quite a dent in those themes. Where to start? There is a story: a couple has a daughter; the wife dies, and eventually the man marries his dead wife’s sister. That’s pretty much the plot. But a
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Sebastian
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
I am passing through a really difficult time in my life, and just for saying a little summary of my whole situation, I don´t know where I am right now.
But I found myself in this book.
The thing about reading is going throughout the labyrinth in your head, exploring it, until you find something new.
This book, so far, is the best thing i've ever read. I don't know any other novels of this author, and is maybe because of that that I loved so much this book. His psychological style, his way in which
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Diane
Oct 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
If you could live forever with your spouse in heaven after you pass, would you? "How do you live in a world with which you disagree? How to live with people when you share neither their suffering nor their joys? When you know that you don't belong among them?"

Agnes and Laura, sisters with opposite traits ground Kundera's novel of variations as he weaves fantasized personalities of the past like Goethe and Hemingway along with himself and friend as narrator to create opportunities to think about
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Asghar Abbas
Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it

I don't know why I love this book, I hated it so much. Completely broke my heart, first book ever to do so, it was just so real. It was real enough to be fictitious, reality too harshly dealt with here would be my biggest woe. First book to make me fall in love with death, and I have already read Fools Die by that time. Ever the realist, both of you girls, you want real? What's more real than this book even when it's not. Characters utterly refusing to stay fictional. Oddly enough, I read this d
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W.D. Clarke
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
2019-12-03:
This is my third time through this, perhaps Kundera's last "great" novel (in the sense of expansiveness which is lacking in his later novellas, as in Philip Roth's own post-"American Trilogy" work), and, as always, I am not sure I completely got it (or to be completely honest, I am completely sure that I did not quite get it), which is why I will keep coming back to him, circling around his mysterious imagination like the nocturnal moth around the bare lightbulb that closes The Unbear
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Luís
I let myself be captivated to the point of bewitchment by this book by an author as amusing as he was lucid and desperate.
Much can found in this book.
There is a reflection on the history of literature.
There is an exhibition of what one might call the wisdom of erotic existence.
There is also an exhibition of the dissolution of senses, of all values on which Western civilization has flourished, through characters whose anchoring in modernity is brilliantly marked.
And everything we find it is so in
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Satyajeet
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

In 1809, Bettina von Arnim wrote to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: 'I have a strong will to love you for eternity' Read carefully this apparently banal sentence. More important than the word 'love' are the words 'eternity' and 'will'
I won't keep you in suspense any longer. What was at stake between them was not love. It was immortality...
joe
Aug 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
I read Immortality at the height of my love affair with meta, so that reall boosted my opinion, you should know that. You should also know that this book has one of the best first images of any book I've read. The rest of the book had it's ups and downs, but i read it two years ago and it is still with me. A lot of the musings and theories Kundera writes about still bouce around in my head. At the time I thought them less than accurate, but since I have come to become a believer (which is to say ...more
Antonomasia
Read in two halves, two months apart. In February I was quite intensely irritated, and marked the book two stars... You know those reviews of Nausea and L'Étranger, in which people say the likes of "I used to think this way when I was younger, but it's a bit shit"? (c.f. Hanif Kureishi: "The cruellest thing you can do to Kerouac is re-read him at 38.") I still appreciate those books, but this one looked like my equivalent. I wasn't a teenage existentialist but I was a teenage narcissist, and Kun ...more
Jan
I recognize that many may not consider this book on par with The Book of Laughter and Forgetting or The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but throughout this book Kundera confidently displays his mastery of the novel – which he has defined as ‘a poetic meditation on existence.’

The book deals with the way media manipulates popular culture and how technocracy distorts our perception of reality. In addition, there are imagined dialogues between Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Ernest Hemingway, and Kund
...more
Sarah
Sep 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
When I first began this book, I thought of it as "enchantingly odd." It's not a light read by any means. But I quickly grew mesmerized by the book, in part because Kundera weaves together a brilliant plot while also offering his philosophies on the characters' actions and behaviors. So instead of merely describing what people do (which would be interesting enough), he beautifully describes the enduring meaning and themes of these behaviors. For example, in one part, a character decides he no lon ...more
Bobby
May 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Another book I'd give 4.5 stars to if I could. Kundera writes like a philosopher most of the time, but when he is really good, he writes (prose) like a poet. The line that really jumped at me, and captures the essence of this book in my opinion, is "The emotion of love gives all of us a misleading illusion of knowing the other." A bit cynical perhaps but understandable given the context of Kundera's life and writing, and not necessarily untrue. Like many of other Kundera's books, it is full of c ...more
Julie Rylie
It always makes me frightened to write any review on Kundera... I love him so much it hurts, and i love him enough not to be able to express what it fells like to read any of his books because they leave me speechless and with a sense of accomplishment and a strong feeling i inhaled every single word.

In the beginning he states this really interesting speech about gestures, that won me over at the first chapter. And he even talked about what i always inquire: "the russian sentiment". He calls it
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Lorraine
Apr 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to say I was won over by the book. At first, it annoyed me -- I thought Kundera was trying to be clever. But then as I continued reading I realised the overall structure of the novel, and I realised he wasn't trying to be clever: he was sincerely trying to understand desire and love. Kundera is very intelligent and it shows -- there is a lot one could think about with regards to love and desire -- a lot of interesting ideas in the novel which he tries to understand. He is not really the m ...more
Matt

Another clunker from Kundera- based on a captivating premise indeed and uniquely realized in parts but overall far too self-conscious, cerebral, gimmicky, and precious.

He spends an enormous amount of time describing this elliptical gesture one character makes and its epiphanic qualities for the rest of the narrative. I got it, quickly, I ain't too bright but I do dig the luminous renderings of everyday life quite a bit. O I was on board with that, but the rest of it was as much a hazy mush to me
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Tom
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I genuinely don't know what to say about this book. Genuinely, I don't. So in place of a review I'm going to describe my experience of it.
It has the most heart felt beginning I have ever read, yet the more I read it the more I realised how many rules it broke as a novel. There is a tremendous amount of telling in it, the author directly talks to you and is himself in it as a character, he even has real and famous people characterised in certain aspects, just to prove a point. Yet, throughout all
...more
Christos
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was an out and out struggle to finish, Part Four: Homo Sentimentalis was essentially unreadable gibberish. There's some good thoughts and writing in here, but the self indulgent, random mashup of characters and famous folk past and present, as well as the scattered author appearances are distracting. Ultimately I was left feeling that this book deserves no immortality and should be mercifully euthanized for the benefit of good books (and patient readers) everywhere. 2.5 stars rounded down.
Sundus
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best book I've ever read. It offers a fantastical, psychologically realistic and multifaceted picture of various intimately interconnected lives. A very interesting read!!
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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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