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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  17,308 ratings  ·  1,230 reviews

A man and a woman meet by chance while returning to their homeland, which they had abandoned twenty years earlier when they had chosen to become exiles. Will they manage to pick up the thread of their strange love story, interrupted almost as soon as it began and then lost in the tides of history? The truth is that after such a long absence "their memories no longer match.

Paperback, 195 pages
Published September 30th 2003 by Harper Perennial (first published April 2000)
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Alexis It's about man and woman who return to the Czech Republic after escaping from Communism. They each have different memories about how it used to be and…moreIt's about man and woman who return to the Czech Republic after escaping from Communism. They each have different memories about how it used to be and this affects how they see it now. It's a great book. I finished it in a day. Couldn't put it down. (less)
Kianoush Mokhtarpour A Novel. But while telling the story, Kundera gives his own analysis of people and events, too. So, maybe it's both a novel and a critical review.

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Average rating 3.78  · 
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Oct 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
57. L'ignorance = Ignorance, Milan Kundera

Czech expatriate Irena, who has been living in France, decides to return to her home after twenty years. During the trip she meets, by chance, Josef, a fellow émigré who was briefly her lover in Prague. The novel examines the feelings instigated by the return to a homeland, which has ceased to be a home. In doing so, it reworks the Odyssean themes of homecoming. It paints a poignant picture of love and its manifestations, a recurring theme in Kundera's n
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Kris

Milan Kundera's writing just seems to strike a right note with me, ever since the first time I read his works on a public commute as a wide-eyed college sophomore, getting hooked on the philosophical ramblings that are so essential to college years.

And that fascination apparently has withstood the test of time for me - maybe because deep down inside me a college philosopher still survives.
"Both of them are pidgeonholed, labeled, and they will be judged by how true they are to their labels (of
Mutasim Billah
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, czech
“The Greek word for "return" is nostos. Algos means "suffering." So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.”

Ignorance is Kundera's tribute to the émigré. The story revolves around a woman called Irena, a Czech expatriate living in France, and her return to her homeland. On returning she meets Josef, a fellow émigré whom she knew from the past as a lover.

The novel examines the feelings of returning to an unfamiliar homeland after a long time, drawing parallels with
Steven Godin

After being somewhat disappointed recently with Identity, Ignorance marked a return to form for Kundera, and although this was a really good effort, at this point of his career I still think he was past his peak brilliance. There is no doubt when he got it right, his gift of mingling politics, love, sex, history, and an exploration of subjectivity, really hits the spot, delivering a unique and captivating reading experience. Ignorance sees Kundera tackling a humanly richer theme than in Identity
Elyse  Walters
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I lost my review- no idea how while copying it from my notes it could completely vanish. No backup - nothin!!
I won’t even consider writing another one. Or typing out the excerpt I wanted to include. ( again)...
I’m too mad!

So...a couple of quick tip of the tongue thoughts:
The reading is more cerebral than experiential.

Thoughts about memory - forgetting- illusion & nostalgia are running themes ...
There is sadness in coming home... returning home after twenty years away.
We follow two lovers wh
Ahmad Sharabiani
57. La lgnoranica = Ignorance, Milan Kundera
Ignorance (French: L'ignorance) is a novel by Milan Kundera. It was written in 1999 in French and published in 2000. It was translated into English in 2002 by Linda Asher, for which she was awarded the Scott Moncrieff Prize the following year.
Czech expatriate Irena, who has been living in France, decides to return to her home after twenty years. During the trip she meets, by chance, Josef, a fellow émigré who was briefly her lover in Prague. The novel
Mar 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001-list-books
Someone needs to give Milan Kundera a chill pill. He's that dark brooding guy that sits at the back of a cafe staring moodily into his black coffee, the boyfriend you try for months to make love you but who at critical moments, suddenly declared it's all too base and animal, and you know, what is love anyway? Just a social construct. Etc etc. Sometimes Ignorance reads beautifully. I particularly enjoyed a lot of the musings on language and derivation of words, and their deviations between cultur ...more
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
"The more vast the amount of time we've left behind us, the more irresistible is the voice calling us to return to it."
In this poignant recount of two people, forced to bid goodbye to their native country, in the diminished, yet flickering hope of finding a brighter tomorrow in an alien land, almost 20 years ago from the present, unravels a story replete with more questions than answers. Irena and Josef have found comfortable refuge in their respective abodes at Paris and Copenhagen
Megan Baxter
Jun 27, 2012 rated it liked it
I really don't think Milan Kundera is an author for me. His characters are all so petty and cruel, so atomized and self-centered. I can deal with pettiness and cruelty being a theme of the book - but everyone? All the time?

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Rachelle Ghanem
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
So many feelings , so many topics , very few pages...a very interesting novel
Feb 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Milan Kundera has one of the most unique and immediately recognizable writing styles I’ve ever encountered. Ignorance is the third of his novels I’ve read, and there was never any doubt in my mind while reading it that, yep, it’s him all right. I find this experience of familiarity with an author quite pleasant. The other two novels of his that I’ve read (The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting) are “better,” I suppose it ought to be said, but Ignorance is another ...more
Slow Reader
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
My first Kundera after hearing about him for years from family members. I read this one in about 3 days (?) which is very fast for me. As my partner likes to say, he has an incredible "sensibilité humaine". Through Irena and Josef I now have a better understanding of what it's like being an eastern bloc émigré, because the ones i know personally (my mother's side of the family) have a hard time communicating or even comprehending the tangle of emotions that Kundera so elegantly reproduces in thi ...more
Lee Foust
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wrote about this for our English-language newspaper, Florence News and Events, here in Florence, Italy. I will post the article/review as soon as it's run in the paper. Pretty good novel, a great read for an immigrant like myself, even though it's somewhat weaker than Kundera's great novels. 3.5 stars really.

Far Away from Home—Nostalgia and Nostalghia

Milan Kundera’s begins the second chapter of his most recently translated novel, Ignorance (2002), with an etymological exploration of the word “
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Yasmeen by: my sister.
I was thinking while reading this book about the rating I'll give it… I was going to give it a 4-star rating wishing it could it be 4.5 stars. But while reading the last 50 pages, I definitely knew I was going to give it a 5, and quite easily, too. The ideas represented about art, history, music, writing, and philosophy in this book are probably more worthy of attention and reading than the main story. And the main story got amazingly better near the end which made me wish the story would go on; ...more
Apr 18, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
3.5 stars

Ignorance is a modern retelling of The Odyssey, focusing on two emigrants who were forced from their native Czech Republic during the reign of Communism in 1968. Irena flees to Paris with her husband Martin while Josef ends up settling in Denmark. Irena and Josef had met and flirted in a Czech bar briefly years before in their twenties, and they meet by chance again in their homeland after the dust has settled from the collapse of Communism in 1989. While their memories of that first en
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“He was waiting for just one thing: for them to finally say “Tell us!” And that is the one thing they never said. For 20 years he had thought about nothing but his return. But once he was back, he was amazed to realize that his life, the very essence of his life, its center, its treasure, lay outside Ithaca, in the 20 years of his wanderings. And this treasure he had lost and could retrieve only by telling about it.”

Faz este mês 30 anos que se deu a Revolução de Veludo, na ex-
Apr 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone, esp. Eastern Europeans
I am an Eastern European myself and I felt the truth of Kundera's observations on the sad lives of exiles. One neither belongs to the old country any more, nor to the new one. I've read half a dozen of Kundera's books and am convinced he's one of the best novelists writing today.
Marija Andreeva
I love Kundera, I love the way he writes. Every time I read something written him, I get lost in the story that he tells. He is a magician with words.
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
The thing about Milan Kundera is the depth of his works. His characters are quite ordinary folks, but the way Milan writes them is a thing of beauty. Their class struggles, their struggles with identity and romance and neglect is amazing and relatable. He's not a master of style or anything like that, but though simple, his words carry such depth. However complex the thought behind the writing, it always comes out beautiful. And this is a literary masterpiece. Never has a study in reminiscence b ...more
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
A friend advised me to read other novels by Kundera before diving into The unbearable lightness..., his most famous writing, so that I could appreciate his other works, too. I wonder if that is the case, as I sense that I'll become one of his fans pretty soon.

This is the second book by Kundera and I enjoyed it quite a lot. There's something different about his writing style (I can't put my finger on it), but I can tell I love it! He has the gift to turn simple, mundane situations into an entire
Michael Vagnetti
A fictional calculus of "nostalgia": who you are, where you are from, where you are going, what you remember. The writing begins with a foundation of multi-lingual etymology and classical history, and then its characters are put to the task, often under harsh light, of dramatizing the word. They define it through an intimate choreography. This is a beautiful, parsimonious, and complex technique.

What matters is kept in obvious relief: emotions, words, and decisions. Although not everyone is an e
A beautiful book about nostalgia. Milan Kundera is a delicious writer, describing human feelings in such a delicate way that we can’t but feel for the characters.
Nostalgia and a lot of uncomfortable questions slowly creep into your head, leaving you wondering for a long time. Feeling sad for human condition, but also comforted because you recognise so much.The novel does what the best books should accomplish, enriching you as a human.
Sevelina Todorova
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
The immigrant as the ultimate foreigner (even in his home country). Surprisingly good book.
Dec 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Kundera is my favorite of the slew of authors made famous in the west due to their emigration from and outspoken cries against Soviet Communism. Many of the others (i.e. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn) have been "made" great due to the wests need to hear these stories. Kundera just "is" good.

An over arching concept of the book is the comparison of a modern day homecoming (post cold war, pre myspace) with that of Odysseus returning to Greece. However, don't feel like you have to be an emegree to enjoy th
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mitteleuropa
When Odysseus returned to Ithaka after twenty years of travel and travail he was welcomed home; but was his return to the place he remembered and to the wife that he remembered? With Ignorance Milan Kundera gives the reader a meditation on this theme and others. Ignorance raises the question of where home is anymore in the modern world, not only for émigrés but for anyone who moves around. The place of one’s birth no longer seems to qualify, as one grows away from it, moves to more attractive pl ...more
Suad Shamma
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2013
This was my first Milan Kundera book and I was very pleased with my selection. Quite a straightforward and easy to read book, Ignorance is a novel that delves into the lives of refugees. Two, to be exact.

How their lives have changed when they left their country, in this case the Czech Republic during the Russian invasion, and moved to neighbouring countries to make a new life for themselves. What it feels like to go back to their country of origin after so many years, how the memories they had o
Apr 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: well-written
Being an Eastern European and living in UK I can relate a lot to the story and the main characters, even if I belong to a different generation and my circumstances of leaving the country I was born were completely different.

Although I like Milan Kundera as an author, I read this book for my book club meeting. It was very interesting to hear how the others related to the story or what they took from it because I realised that to certain extent it takes to be someone from 'Eastern block' to fully
Mar 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I almost donated this unread book to the library in Vancouver, but plucked it out of a box and realized that my past self had gifted me a novel perfectly applicable to my present, four years later. It has given me such solace through this return to my homeland. Though still in the same country, speaking the same language, my Great Return to Toronto shares the same unavoidable dredging up of the past (and past selves) as the protagonists' returns to Prague. As always, Kundera nails descriptions o ...more
Mena Asaad
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The way Milan deals with human beings and their psychological aspects is something you cannot easily find in another novelists’ works. He made “Nostalgia” take a thousand shape and form ; you can’t help but relate to one of them. I just love Kundera and everything he writes.
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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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“The Greek word for "return" is nostos. Algos means "suffering." So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.” 1431 likes
“To die; to decide to die; that's much easier for an adolescent than for an adult. What? Doesn't death strip an adolescent of a far larger portion of future? Certainly it does, but for a young person, the future is a remote, abstract, unreal thing he doesn't really believe in.” 95 likes
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