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Farewell Waltz

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  12,573 ratings  ·  769 reviews
Klima, a celebrated jazz trumpeter, receives a phone call announcing that a young nurse with whom he spent a brief night at a fertility spa is pregnant. She has decided he is the father.

And so begins a comedy in which, during five madcap days, events unfold with ever-increasing speed. Klima's beautiful, jealous wife; the nurse's equally jealous boyfriend; a fanatical gynec
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 1st 1998 by Faber and Faber (first published 1972)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  12,573 ratings  ·  769 reviews

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Mutasim Billah
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: czech
“The longing for order is at the same time a longing for death, because life is an incessant disruption of order.”

The Farewell Party is Kundera's third novel. The story has a very theatrical approach to comedy: we have eight equally obnoxious characters, none of whom have a central role. However each of them are a pivotal element in the plot. The characters are introduced one by one in a remote spa-town in Czechoslovakia, set in the early 1970's. Under the comedic theme of the novel, there a
Sep 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pleasure-read
Reading Kundera is a bit like watching Mad Men. You find nearly all of the characters in The Farewell Party and Mad Men repellent and highly limited (which makes you as a reader/watcher feel so clever) and yet they are so v. v. compelling, often their looks are what defines their behavior, how they are treated and what they can and can't do. Worlds built on artifice. What gives? Kundera and Weiner are masterful at using sexual politics and blind ambition to critique what is horribly wrong within ...more
Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Milan Kundera is such a misogynistic egotist, that it's difficult for me to remember why I liked this book so much, until I open it up and start glancing through the pages again.

First off, the plot of this novel is amazing, hilarious, interesting, and totally unconvincing. Which is part of Kundera's charm, ironically. He utilizes these absurd characters, that are completely unbelievable, puts them in a situation that would never happen in a thousand lifetimes, and then these unbelievable events
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
I can't say enough good things about Milan Kundera. I would recognize his writing style among million unidentified books. This book was no exception- typical Kundera, lures the reader into his intricate web of ordinary lives turned chaotic, with just enough existential philosophy in every paragraph, to make you think long into the hours of the night...
I grew to hate certain characters, as if they were made of flesh and blood; I pitied some...and some, I just didn't understand. Why, why do they g
How can a book not grab your attention where the ‘hero’ wears a necklace with a cyanide pill so he can make a conscious choice every day whether or not to live?

Kundera writes a farce, a sexual farce, in five parts, and in his typical fashion, he transforms it into something more ambiguous and much, much darker. As Jakub drives across the border never to return to his homeland (as Kundera) you wonder how this seemingly good man’s conscience allowed him to commit a bad act. Again, we see all these
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
On my bookshelf at home, Kundera sits alongside Saramago, Marquez, Kafka and the like in a space reserved for the mavericks-genius and eccentric in equal measure (Kafka is there by popular consent. I have not had the courage to read him yet) Even in this group, Kundera stands out – a peculiar oddball in a sea of oddballs. And the Farewell Waltz is emphatic proof for that.
On the surface, it is a madcap comedy involving a phalanx of extraordinary characters
- Klima, a celebrated jazz-trumpeter at
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: czech
Like other works of Kundera, Farewell Waltz has the same especial writing style of Kundera with many rich dialogues between the characters concerning different moral concepts like love, abortion, jealousy, betrayal, murder, political and religious beliefs,... and although most of the times (I think) a fiction reader is looking for in fact "fiction" itself, I think Kundera's opinions make this book a didactic novel which is written in an artistic way that the reader whether he/she agrees with him ...more
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually like Kundera too much but this novel is quite good, with themes of oppression, fate, relationship between the sexes and attitudes towards parenthood and bringing a child into a very problematic world. Kundera's special kind of humor (which I'm told is very Czech) works quite well here, and adds some lightness to the grimness of the themes and the conclusions he is getting to in this book. Not a must, but makes you think.
Nate D
A bit less driven by ideas than most of Kundera's fiction (it was only his second novel), and so more reliant on throwing his often-irritating characters at the mercy of mechonized plotting finely calibrated to entirely ensure their disconnection, misunderstanding, and semi-willful alienation from eachother. It's not that it's badly done, it's just the sort of thing that I tend to find more tedious. And there is a pretty clear thematic center, afterall, it just gets less page time than the accom ...more
I read The Farewell Waltz as a book-club read with a women's studies group, focusing on the theme of abortion and child-bearing and how they're used to control and police women's bodies.
I don't have enough to say about this book. If I have to sum up: It was unsettling. There were many vague questions that were left unanswered at the end, and I don't know what to think of it as a whole.
W.D. Clarke
Aug 23, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 stars really. A bit on the slight side for Kundera. You could say that Farewell Waltz is the author's first attempt at engaging with the ideas he so masterfully interrogates in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Well worth a read if you are a fan of that book, but definitely not if not. This one, though, seems to be a bit of a trifle at first, but accumulates a paradoxically post-modern "depth" as the characters' self-understandings are revealed to be almost entirely illusory, and what begin ...more
Melika Rasti
Kundra is not simply an awesome writer, but he is a new style in literature and philosophy! It was great as always..
Farhan Khalid
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Listen! They're always making us play for nothing

One time it's for the struggle against imperialism, another time it's to commemorate the revolution

He always suspected her of suspecting him

Yet he had to keep on pretending to believe she believed him

He suddenly experienced, in a single instant, her entire essence

He could suddenly grasp, in a single one of her gestures or movements, the entire history of her body and soul

Any fool can seduce a woman. But one must also know how to break it off; that
Alecto Carrow
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
As usual with my review, the mid was bleh but the way it ended, *chefs kiss*. Also, there was a lot of takeaway in the department of life lessons, love and a lot more.
Antonio Velasco
Apr 25, 2009 rated it liked it
“Theoretically speaking,” Jakub said slowly and deliberately, “theoretically speaking, it is possible he had perpetrated the same kind of injustice as was done to him. There isn’t a person on this planet who is not capable of sending a fellow human being to death without any great pangs of conscience. At least I have never found anyone like that. If humanity ever changes in that regard, it will loose one of its most basic characteristics. Those will no longer be human beings, but creatures of so ...more
J.M. Hushour
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Farewell Party" (more accurately, "The Farewell Waltz") is the best of Kundera's novels so far that I'm going through on a two-decade-later reread. Well situated in K's aesthetic of polyphonic and playful storytelling, "F" revolves around several different storylines centered on a fertility clinic in rural Czechoslovakia. There's a pregnant nurse, the various potential fathers, one of whom is a jazz trumpeter, an eclectic doctor at the clinic who, discovering that many women patients are qu ...more
Mohit Parikh
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
Mildly amusing at places and never funny. Kundera chose to write a burlesque novel with stereotypical characters to get his political messages out, but failed to lift it from a mere vehicle of ideas to an enjoyable work of art. Translation is poor. Writing is bad. Efforts are perfunctory.
The novel can be read only to understand how the well defined structure of a comic novel can be used. Like a leaf, dried and washed, which becomes a mesh of wires sans the pigments, the novel lays bare its clic
Mohamad Shibly
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
He gripped Klima's hand and went on: "In this country people don't respect the morning. An alarm clock violently wakes them up, shatters their sleep like the blow of an ax, and they immediately surrender themselves to deadly haste. Can you tell me what kind of day can follow a beginning of such violence? What happens to people whose alarm clock daily gives them a small electric shock? Each day they become more used to violence and less used to pleasure. Believe me, it is the mornings that determ ...more
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
I must admit that I expected a lot more from this book. After reading Immortality and The Unbearable Lightness of Being (one of the best books ever written), I was very dissapointed. I enjoyed Kundera's insight and narration, but the book seemed to lack something. It was just OK - so OK that a year after reading it I hardly remember what it was about.
Laurence R.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend of mine recommended this book to me a few months ago and I really wanted to read it, so I decided that Booktube-a-thon was the perfect occasion. I don't know what I was expecting from this book, but it wasn't this! I ended up liking this anyways, so I'll read more of Milan Kundera's books.
Apr 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A philosophical farce with the downhill intensity
of a good mystery. The Czech is in the male.
Aug 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: life-cheats
"WOAH!" was the only thing I could utter when I finished this.
It laid untouched for a while among the rest of my Kundera books, yet it was the only one which I found and still do find it's cover the least appealing.
I was reluctant to start it under the pretense of beginning to easily infer Kundera's patterns and fathom his tricks and twisted plots, hence eventually realising that this is no less bleak and cliché than it's cover.

Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
I came close to throwing this book across the room about fifty pages in, when the misogyny was drooling all over the page, but I decided to see where he took things. I mean, maybe it was the characters, and not Kundera himself, who were so convinced women were vile creatures who men needed to protect themselves from, in between having sex with them. Things did move along nicely, though, and I did become wrapped up in the farcical nature of the way different characters knew only parts of what wa ...more
Diyar Ahmed
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When you read Kundera, you will always be surprised by his techniques. His stories are too simple; they are some love stories, or talking about war which are not special subjects to write about because there are hundreds of writers talked about those subjects before him.

But Kundera tells stories for his own reasons. He has some questions that are not simple rather they are pure philosophical. He has some ethical questions that he calls them ''Ethical Paradoxes'' However, he is not a philosopher
Dec 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Few writers manage to weave together the peculiarities of life into an entertaining story as well as Milan Kundera; fewer still can call upon the absurdities of life in Communist Eastern Europe to sprinkle into their tales. Kundera knits the everyday and the sinister undertone (and overtone, when necessary) into the existences of his subjects in such an amusing, outrageous way that it is easy to forget that both the setting and the backdrop are so serious. A famous trumpeter, a gynaecologist, an ...more
Nov 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
In typical Kundera fashion, you aren't sure whether to laugh or cry while reading this novel. Kundera likes to teeter on the edge of blasphemy, always pulling the reader back with the sheer humanness of his characters. While this Aaron Asher translation was released here in the states in 1998, it was originally written in 1969-70, and in that context, becomes a far more controversial and provocative novel. It is a good read, and full of poetic and prosaic gems. Kundera hands the reader the truth ...more
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hard as it may be to believe, I've never actually gotten around to reading Kundera's fiction before. If this book is representative, though, I really should have. I loved how intricate Kundera sets up the relationships among the characters while still developing them individually. Also, I'm a sucker for anyone who can have the kind of insight on human character that Kundera does. It is both tender and piercing at the same time. Humans are nothing but folly, but we have to take that seriously bec ...more
Sep 21, 2012 rated it liked it
The novel is as "musical" as the title indicates it and as the reader is used to Kundera's writing. Despite this musicality, the novel shares an entire bitterness and sadness of someone who knows that history puts humanity to testings. And also, that none can resist these testings. Shallow loves, hate, guilt, responsibility, passionate questions and answers about the human condition, criminal thoughts; all these are combined together in this book.
Imed Guida
“...people don't respect the morning. An alarm clock violently wakes them up, shatters their sleep like the blow of an ax, and they immediately surrender themselves to deadly haste. Can you tell me what kind of day can follow a beginning of such violence? What happens to people whose alarm clock daily gives them a small electric shock? Each day they become more used to violence and less used to pleasure.”
Maha Emad
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite type of novel... so deep yet so light.. Seems that lightness and depth are the writer’s favorite themes.. It is full of events, over a short period of time.. in one place... Kundera has this wonderful talent of making his characters so vivid.. I liked it even better than his more popular novel ‘the unbearable lightness of being’. Highly recommended
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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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