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3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,284 ratings  ·  161 reviews
A brilliant new contribution to Kundera's ongoing reflections on art and artists, written with unparalleled insight, authority, and range of reference and allusion

Milan Kundera's new collection of essays is a passionate defense of art in an era that, he argues, no longer values art or beauty. With the same dazzling mix of emotion and idea that characterizes his novels, Kun
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published August 17th 2010 by Harper (first published 2009)
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 ·  1,284 ratings  ·  161 reviews

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Glenn Russell
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Czech-born author Milan Kundera (born 1926) who went into exile in France in 1975.

In this collection of short essays, Milan Kundera shares reflections on a number of topics and writers, artists and composers from Francis Bacon, Philip Roth and Juan Goytisolo to Beethoven, Carlos Fuentes, Oscar Milosz and Curzio Malaparte, to name several. However, a reader need not be familiar with these artists and writers to benefit from the many wisdom nuggets sprinkled throughout the book’s 180 pages. As a
Ahmad Sharabiani
Une rencontre = Encounter, Milan Kundera
Encounter originally published: March 28, 2009. Milan Kundera's new collection of essays is a passionate defense of art in an era that, he argues, no longer values art or beauty. With the same dazzling mix of emotion and idea that characterizes his novels, Kundera revisits the artists who remain important to him and whose works help us better understand the world we live in and what it means to be human. An astute reader of fiction, Kundera brings his extr
Steven Godin

. . . an encounter with my reflections
and my recollections, my old themes
(existential and aesthetic) and my old loves . . .

I. The Painter's Brutal Gesture: On Francis Bacon
II. Novels, Existential Soundings
III. Blacklists, or Divertimento in Homage to
Anatole France
IV. The Dream of Total Heritage
V. Beautiful Like a Multiple Encounter
VI. Elsewhere
VII. My First Love
VIII. Forgetting Schoenberg
IX. The Skin: Malaparte's Arch-Novel
Ned Rifle
Jan 24, 2013 rated it liked it
I was sceptical about Kundera, so decided to read this book of essays. I've been employing this technique for a while now, with mixed results. I can't say that he had any particularly revelatory insights into the things discussed, but he was fairly friendly company. Most of the pieces in here are only 3-5 pages long and are simply short descriptions of a book so, contrary to someone's suggestion that this can only be enjoyed if you have a thorough knowledge of Eastern European literature, it wou ...more
Lauren Albert
Oct 02, 2010 rated it liked it
My encounter with this book turned out not to be a felicitous one. I noticed the book on my library's "New Nonfiction" shelves and took it since I love Kundera and this was the only one of his books I hadn't heard of. The failure of my relationship with this book was probably not due to a failing on the writer's part. Most of the essays were either about writers and artists who I hadn't read or whose work I don't like (Francis Bacon, the surrealists, Rabelais). Alas, not a match made in heaven.
Jim Coughenour
I've long enjoyed Kundera's literary essays, even more than his novels. He's one of those rare authors worth reading for his opinions alone.

This latest collection, however, is a bit slight. Most of the essays are quite short, a précis of Kundera's points of view but little more – as if he's said all he had to say about literature in The Art of the Novel and the excellent Testaments Betrayed. He's at his best when championing authors and artists mostly forgotten.

For me, the best is the final chap
Farhan Khalid
. . . an encounter with my reflections and my recollections, my old themes (existential and aesthetic) and my old loves . . .

Still obsessed by recollections of the country which I had just left and which still remained in my memory as a land of interrogations and surveillance

[on Francis Bacon] The painter's gaze comes down on the face like a brutal hand trying to seize hold of her essence

[on Picasso] It is the painter's light gesture that transformed elements of the human body into a two-dimens
Feb 04, 2017 rated it liked it
the essays are connected by existential musings, the detestable European existential crisis they built upon themselves, the white supremacy, wars, massacres, bewailing what they have already done to humanity, the essays show how pukish European civilization can be, and how things are still being repeated, ( Trump's win), things which an outsider could not relate to and always reminding me of how bad power could be and how terrifying it was ( connecting with centuries old tales of European white ...more
Zöe Zöe
Feb 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
I still prefer to call Milan Kundera the essayist. His essays are always better than his novels to me, maybe because his novel is more speaking itself from a physical point of view. But essays seem more intelligent. As Kundera says, criticizing others/judging others is a way of expressing oneself. Still, he loathes collectivists and totalitarianism, still he interests Musics, still he is a little bit depressed. He is calling for a past feelings, those good old days, when people still look up int ...more
Kendare Blake
Aug 18, 2010 rated it liked it
I'm going to give this three stars. I can't believe I'm going to give Kundera three stars, but I am. And it physically hurts me. I was sure of this rating midway through, because his analysis of the works he was discussing was a little thin. The essays of the second half were stronger, and almost managed to bump this collection to four stars.

Ultimately though, this Kundera was short on Kundera. It was heavy on summary of other artists, and light on his application and interpretation. For the mo
Jul 03, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This isn't even bad. Actually, I can't tell you whether it was good or not, because I had not idea what was going on 90% of the time. Not because it was brilliantly complex or anything, but because if you haven't read/listened to/seen the stuff Kundera is referring to, there is very little to be drawn. There's a little (Yeah! 2nd star!), but not enough to make the experience worth it. Thank you pretentious 14 year-old me for reading Dostoevsky, and Kafka and Hrabal for existing, because without ...more
Monstrous Abeer
Nov 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
First of all, you have to be aware of each person and event that Kundera has mentioned in some essays and articles which you are going to read in this book.
Simply you will be sinking in some arts and literature and also some criticisms that Milan Kundera has shared..
Ivy Espinosa
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, 2019
“Will there be nothing left of us but worthless stuff?”
Peter Landau
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Milan Kundera’s collection of essays starts off with him musing about raping a woman. That essay is about Francis Bacon and how his work is a brutal rape of flesh. He writes the reader off the edge after putting them there, but his point isn’t to shock. He’s mad, but wants more than to make you shout out a window. His writing on composers, writers and artists is an affirmation of art at a time when he see it as devalued. And this was written over 20 years ago! Creative expression is under attack ...more
Anna Mosca
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Kundera’s book of essay was truly a wonderful surprise. Although on the very first essay I esitate (when he described thoughts of rape) it then evolves into a great collection of short stories and essays. Essays that analyze the writing of other authors and the evolving of the novel in depth and with great insight and a fresh point of view. In chapter fifteen he introduce the chezch poet Vera Linhartová with evident respect and bring forth her writing on exile, as she was exiled in France, just ...more
Aloysiusi Lionel
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Where is the border beyond which a self ceases to be a self? I first knew Milan Kundera and his enjoyable expertise in the art of the novel when I read Immortality. In that reading journey, I was able to appreciate his efforts to defend art from the possibilities of extinction, monotony, and predictability. He has a peculiar way of dividing his novel into subparts that are, at the first place irrelevant with one another, geared towards a signature theme of deep recollection.

And I have just read
Zachary Crockett
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So much insight. I love the precision of Kundera's writing, never overstepping the bounds of his (impressively broad) aesthetic and historical knowledge. Sometimes he poses questions and leaves them hanging, not claiming to have all the answers. This is an intellectual honesty rare today.

How am I changed? I understand better the philosophical transition Europe underwent after World War 2. I grasp something about French aesthetic reasoning that I didn't before. I know more about the legacy of sur
Jan 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I could only read this book in parts as many of the essays in this book are about music (specifically western music) of which I don't have much idea. But in rest of the essays which are about books, and a few authors. These are lucid, and are well written; in the usual Kundera style. Reading these essays I became aware of a author like (Curzio Malaparte) whom I have never heard of, and Kundera's review of his works makes me to put books by Malaparte in my reading list.
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of these essays were too foreign (or too smart), maybe, for me to appreciate (or, maybe, too essayistic in the sense of being too much one person's short, insider, take on a subject that lends itself to that kind of analysis). But others were interesting and capable of bringing in a reader who was totally outside the subject matter.
Dec 17, 2016 rated it liked it
I feel like I was reading Kundera's Goodreads reviews while reading this. It's him interacting with other texts, at times brilliantly.

That said, it's recycled work of his - not that it's not great. It's just recycled...and horribly expensive, just like all of the Linda Asher translations.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting reflections on art. Hits you emotionally and has serious philosophical analyses on the nature of the novel as well as visual art and music.
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
interesting but too deep into the subject of european literature for me
John David
Milan Kundera's newest foray into the essay, "Encounter," continues his critical engagement with the history and aesthetic of the European novel and the place and importance of art today. It contains four longer essays (fifteen to twenty pages each) on, respectively, the art of Francis Bacon, an "homage" to Anatole France, the artistic sensibilities of particular Martinican poets (Aime Cesair among them), and Curzio Malaparte's novel "The Skin." Most of these essays, however, are occasional piec ...more
Jean Tessier
Jul 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leisure
Kundera's latest book is a collection of short texts where he develops his understanding of Modernism across the arts and of the novel in particular. The result is rather eclectic but an interesting peek into Modernism and some of its less famous proponents.

Each section as short enough that I could read each one in a single session and then write down my notes immediately thereafter.

The Painter's Brutal Gesture: On Francis Bacon

Early and mainstream modernists gained followers who helped define t
Leonard Klossner
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Encounter, a collection of essays, offers an illuminating and historicist perspective to a myriad of topics such as the brutal gestures of the “rapist hand” of Francis Bacon which endeavors to discover the buried self; a novel perspective on humor, or “The Comical Absence of the Comical,” in Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, Gabriel Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude as representative of the arch-novel; a meditation on the blacklist as inspired by Kundera’s lover for the blacklisted Anatole France; ...more
Trever Polak
Eh, this is a hard one to rate. I can now say I'm a Kundera fan, but I don't find him very likable in some ways. He's always fascinating, but not always right; which is okay, really.
Patrick McCoy
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, non-fiction
Encounter (2010) is a short book of essays by the great Milan Kundera. I find his prose writing as impressive as his fiction writing. This collection is no exception and stands along his three other great books of essays:The Art of the Novel, Testaments Betrayed, and The Curtain. There are a variety of essays in the collection, but most of them have to do with art in one form or another and not just literature. As the son of a composer he has extensive knowledge of classical music and devotes so ...more
Andria Caputo
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
An excellent and thought provoking ensemble of essays from one of the greatest writers of our time. Like in his fiction, Kundera's writing is majestic, clear and just so damn great. The essays in "Encounter" range from meditations on the work of painter Francis Bacon, to the avant-garde composer Iannis Xenakis, to the modern legacy and influence of the French renaissance writer Rabelais, and the founders of a Martinican literary identity, with the discussion of writers like Aimé Césaire,among ot ...more
Oct 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful followup to "The Curtain". Rich in it's examination of the novel, but also moves into painting, music, and poetry.

Mainly a defense of writing as art, especially with the examination of Malaparte and contrasting his work to Sartre's quote: "Prose is in essence utilitarian...the writer is a speaker: he designates, demonstrates, orders, rejects, questions, entreats, insults, persuades, insinuates."

Both in Malaparte's excerpts and Kundera's explanations, we find that writing can move far b
Kent Winward
May 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary, essay
I've been reading a lot of Kundera lately (The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Laughable Loves) and so I finally finished off the book of essays I'd been reading off and on for over a year and a half.

I also downloaded a sample from of book of essays on Kundera by Harold Bloom in which Bloom describes "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" as a Period Piece.

After reading Encounters, I think that Kundera must have pissed off Bloom and his Western Canon-ic thinking by consistently challenging the di
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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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