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3.68  ·  Rating details ·  20,510 ratings  ·  1,391 reviews
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. This also happens with couples--indeed, above all with couples, because lovers fear more than anything else "losing sight" of that loved one.

With stunning artfulness in expanding and playing variations o
Paperback, 176 pages
Published April 21st 1999 by Harper Perennial (first published October 29th 1997)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  20,510 ratings  ·  1,391 reviews

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Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french, fiction, czech
To these questions he has no answer.

Milan Kundera is a philosopher in the garb of novelist; but a philosopher of life lived, dreamed and yearned for; a philosopher who will not deal in abstract metaphysics and grand scheme of ideas that, in the last analysis and against the banality of the real world, bears little of its weight on who we are, what we do, and mostly importantly, why we do it.

Through the story of an odd people, Jean-Marc and Chantal, who get together as a result of more oddness in
Steven Godin
Kundera's second novel to be written in French was a bit of let down for me. It felt nothing like the Kundera I've known from previous books. He was trying way to hard here to be French through and through, and even though Identity was written in the mid 90s, it felt more like a script for a nouvelle vague movie of the 50s or 60s. It is also told in a spare prose which I'm not too sure suits Kundera. Having said that, there were still glimpses of his genius, and the 'nothing is quite what it see ...more
Aug 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
Whenever I'm at a loss for what to read next and don't want to take any risks, I reread either Vonnegut, Murakami, or Kundera. I've probably read this book five times, but I love him so I don't care.


You know, maybe it's that old problem of how sometimes with really distinctive authors, all their works sort of blur together retroactively, but wow. Only the first like twenty pages seemed familiar to me, even though I am sure I've read this several times before. The whole last third, where ever
Jenny Yates
Dec 12, 2008 rated it liked it
This small gripping novel is the story of two lovers, Jean-Marc and Chantal. It moves from one to the other, following assumptions, emotions, beliefs and ideas - some shared, but mostly held in secret. It's about being seen, and about how we see each other. Identity is not fixed but is drawn from the mirrors around us.

One of the messages of this novel is that, in order to love, you need to be certain that you know who the other person is. Once you start to doubt your lover's identity, love is e
A great novelist is like a gypsy fortune teller, one whose wisdom and prophecies and rich tales are enhanced by the palpable rasp of the voice and the heat of her garlic breath in your face. In this book, Kundera is more like one of those mechanical gypsy automatons behind glass that dispenses wisdom on pre-written slips of paper from the hand of a hollow machine.

In Identity, Kundera offers much food for thought on the nature of personal identity; what we think of ourselves and what others think
Rebecca McNutt
Sep 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology, fiction, czech
Identity was more interesting than I initially thought, however I found that it frequently repeated itself and a lot of it was just filler.
Aug 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended to Junta by: Other Kundera books
Shelves: kundera, translated, czech
Lightness of Book: 158 grams
Book of Laughter? No.
Literary Immortality: Low
Laughable Loves count: 1
Naked characters count: 2

My least favourite Kundera book so far - I was excited by the concept of the novel, and some parts were interesting to read, but others were predictable and there was a lack of magical passages which leave an impression, as in his previous books I'd read (or am I just getting used to his style?). The latter end was especially disappointing as it felt disjointed and somewhat
Hiba Arrame
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Umm, so where to start with this one?
This was my first reading by Kundera, of course it wouldn't be the last, but this book was just.. I don't know.
It was weird, I had the feeling sometimes that I was reading L'Écume des jours by Boris Vian, there were so many resemblances with regard to the abnormality and the absurd.
I liked how Kundera tried to draw an image of the nowadays relationships, with all the contradictions, the conflicts, the toxicity and all the dissatisfaction of couples.
It was w
Aug 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Milan Kundera and I are both April fools, so I have always felt a sense of kinship with him. I do not know if April Fool's Day is "celebrated" in the Czech Republic, but I pretend that it is and that he, too, endured fake cakes and tricks as a child.

Kundera is best known for the beautifully titled "Unbearable Lightness of Being." This book is similar in that it explores human relationships but it's also very different.

Kundera has lived in France for many years and this book feels French... it f
Sidharth Vardhan
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a novel, it falls short in my opinion especially toward the end and won't have got more than 3 stars. As a peace of writing in general that discusses ideas it is a 5 star book. It could have been better if it was shorter even though it is one of Kundera's shortest novels. Don't make it your debut Kundera.
Mutasim Billah
Feb 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: czech
Oh Kundera! You're such a wonderful storyteller! Yet, even you have your underwhelming moments. This book is quite possibly my least favorite novel of yours, but even then I so admire the wordplay, the narrative and scenes that I couldn't help saying I like it.

Like most Kundera novels, this book is another one of his puppet-shows where he gives his rag-dolls a little more depth with each scene (just enough to make the reader think and relate, but never too much). The book explores the theme of p
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A wonderful take on identity in the context of relationships—how our perception of ourselves changes depending on "our perception of a lover," or how the idea (often unconscious) of being seen by another alters the way we see ourselves.

This premise is in line with Kundera's categorizing of people, which he proposed in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, according to "the kind of look we wish to live under."

This "look" is different for both Chantal and Jean-Marc, the couple in this book. Chantal
Nayla Feghaly
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Identity is one of these books that you will definitely read again and pay attention to details you haven’t noticed before.
Identity is one of these books that will stay with you forever, that will keep a mark and will change the way you see things.
Identity is a very tiny book, but the themes it tackles are diversified, gripping and enthralling.
Have you ever felt that you don’t really recognize your lover, your friends, your family? Have you ever questioned the identity of the other?
What is you
Tom Willard
Aug 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: czech-lit
Identity Ignorance, Kundera's last sigh as a novelist which could be a good thing as it seems he has exhausted himself. I don't mind the type of ending Kundera used in Identity, I do mind how he did it. I won't go into specifics as I do not want to spoil it. This is a novel of a relationship, and the nature of reality. The nature of reality? Perhaps it is about the fictitious nature of the way we represent the real? This novel is a far cry from Unbearable Lightness of The Book of Laughter & Forg ...more
Sean Blake
Feb 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Milan Kundera's Identity is a joy to read at times, even if his attempts to blend reality, fantasy, satire and philosophy can feel somewhat forced and uneven. Nevertheless it's highly readable and contains all of Kundera's typical themes and ideas present that are undeniably interesting.
Heidihoo Watson
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Women and men
I finished this book and immediately began to re-read it. It is a beautiful, romantic, passionate, sad, honest observation of love and the fact that no matter how much we love someone or think we know someone, we are only able to know and therefore love what the other person allows us to see. Kundera's insight into the fear and loneliness of the psyche of an aging woman is spot-on and a bit unsettling on how he put into words precisely how this reader is beginning to experience those exact emoti ...more
3.5 stars.

I liked this more than the other Kundera book I have read, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Being a short book, I tried to savour it as much as possible, and took my time over each sentence to let the meaning sink in. It made me contemplate a lot of different things: the idea of being wanted, even by those who don't matter, the changing nature of love over time, taboo thoughts and whether or not to keep them to yourself.

I felt that the dialogue between characters was very unrealisti
Feb 08, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dont-bother
I was SORELY disappointed in this book, and it marked the end of the road for me and Kundera. Not only was this book significantly shorter than his others, the story line was just unsatisfying (perhaps because it was too short to be adequately developed?). Also, I felt like it was a recycled story -- same old themes, but nothing new to keep it fresh. Kundera definitely phoned it in on this one.
عماد العتيلي
Kundera is weirdly interesting, and this book is weirdly breathtaking .. but still annoying!
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
What is Identity?

Our identity is the way we dress, we express, we are shown to this world. What about other self that lives in us? This identity which strives us to improve ourselves, craves us for love and so many other things that make what we are.

Where is our Identity? Is it lies what we do? Do the emotions define our Identity? Why one’s Identity necessary to define the person?

As kid we have an Identity is totally different from the Identity while we are growing up. In teenage, we have anothe
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Lovely story..excellently written. Story of two lovers, Chantal and Jean-Marc..two people sharing intimate moments, hopes, dreams...until..doubt comes into picture! Chantal..oh..Chantal, I really couldn't get much into her character. I did try to understand her battle against aging, her wish once again to invoke desire, to be wanted with lust...But, despite my efforts I couldn't quite understand her. Jean-Marc truly loves her...yet, his comments and "I love you endlessly" look in his eyes every ...more
Zachary Karabashliev
A darkly erotic, strange, distant, yet moving portrait of a couple on the verge of losing the common ground of what brought them together - love. A meditation on the nature of self, love, God. A very short novel.
Mahmoud ElNagdi
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, this was a hell of a book :’). The philosophical ideas and questions it asks, Kundera’s writing style! This is a perfect book for me. Enjoyed it and it made me question the essence of being.
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
4 stars!

"They talk on about death, about boredom, they drink wine, they laugh, they have a good time, they are happy"

I first read Kundera back in highschool with An Unbearable Lightness of Being and ever since then, it has been on my mind to read another one of his books. I remember being taken aback by the beauty of Kundera's prose in its sheer simplicity, despite the deeply philosophical topics he touches upon.

Identity, in my opinion, does not disappoint.

It has the essence of a hazy, supe
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
In Milan Kundera’s distinctive style, this book is part fiction and part philosophy. Even though it is more like a novella, I don’t think anyone other than Kundera could fill so many pages with so little a story. It’s almost as if Kundera thinks (profoundly) about the nature of conformism, identity, love, romantic ennui and then weaves the thinnest possible plot around his reflections- just enough that the reader would never feel like giving up on the book. It is quite a talent!

“They (Chantal an
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I get what people talk about when they talk about Kundera.
J.M. Hushour
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was worried at first, re-reading Kundera many years later, that "Slowness" signified a downturn in his work, but I now know with "Identity" that he bounced back, in my estimation, and has maybe even surpassed himself, something any writer can wish for and usually not get. "Identity" is one of those novels that you inexplicably love but would never recommend to anyone else. Kundera reaches past literary mundanity and struggles with something new. Or old, maybe.
There is little of plot to speak o
Matthew Appleton
I'm ill. I picked this up mostly because it is short and closer than the other books I am reading, which were on my desk across the room. Sigh.

This is a 'nothing' book by Kundera. I read it in a few hours or something, and now have basically already forgotten it. The philosophy was weak, for Kundera. The plot was so-so. On the whole, an easy read but nothing to be impressed by. It's one, if not the, shortest novel by him. Probably for the best.
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
A few years ago, my boyfriend and I were looking at the definition of kitsch online. We came upon Kundera's writing from The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I forget the exact quote - but I really want to go outside right now so I'm just going to say it intrigued us enough to immediately go to the bookstore and find a copy to read. This is significantly more impressive coming from my boyfriend who rarely reads fiction, so I gladly let him purchase the last copy*. Anyway, I decided to buy Identity ...more
Jun 23, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: romance, june2010
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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

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