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Farewell Waltz: A Novel Paperback – April 21, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1st edition (April 21, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060997001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060997007
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French, Czech

About the Author

The Franco-Czech novelist Milan Kundera was born in Brno and has lived in France, his second homeland, since 1975. He is the author of the novels The Joke, Farewell Waltz, Life Is Elsewhere, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Immortality, and the short-story collection Laughable Loves—all originally written in Czech. His most recent novels Slowness, Identity, and Ignorance, as well as his nonfiction works The Art of the Novel, Testaments Betrayed, The Curtain, and Encounter, were originally written in French.

Customer Reviews

The characters are poorly dissimulated (that is, articulated) doppelgangers of the author.
Alaric
In a very subtile manner Kundera clarifies the reason why under communist dictatorships humanity failes more often than elsewhere.
Jens Lemcke
"I know only one thing; that I could never say with total conviction that man is a wonderful being and I want to reproduce it."
Zweigster

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Christopher A. Smith on May 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the most readable of Kundera's works, and is handled differently form his other novels. The contrast with "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" is striking; he sticks to the plotline and avoids the philosophical.
Kundera's standard formula is to put the character in a situation that is profound and offers some insight, then step back as narrator and explain to the reader exactly why this situation is profound and what is the insight.
This is not a criticism. Kundera is clearly a master and Unbearable Lightness is one of my favorite novels. It is simply that "the Farewell Waltz" is different; those expecting more standard Kundera fare might be disappointed. I myself was delighted.
The characters were diverse, irreverent, and interesting. Despite the farcical nature of the novel they remain believable. This is a novel that one can read and enjoy for the story, the character mix, the black humor, and the occasional political musings. Kundera does not beat the reader over the head with the philosophical points; these are left for you to discover. A wonderful book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Maggie on December 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is absolutely amazing. True, it is not like the Unbearable Lightness of Being or Immortality, in which Kundera takes the philosophical aspects of every situtation and magnifies it to the "meaning of life" (how's that for a cliche phrase?) This novel appears to be a lot lighter (no pun intended). It doesn't chew through every philosophical theory, but implies it with the characters' absurd and almost silly actions, which they take so seriously that one cannot help but smile. Believe it or not subtelty is key here as far as complex ideas go, even amidst all the plot twists. The reviewer who thought this novel not as contemplative or polished as Kundera's other and more famous works, certainly missed the point of it. This novel is probably one of Kundera's most structured and polished. Unbearable Lightness of Being and Immortality tend to ramble (not that the ramble isn't absolutely wonderful!) and have a bit of the old author-commentary-through-narrative-overkill. The Farewell Waltz is simply perfect! In fact I think that this novel better evoke, without ever spelling it out, the whole mood, attitude, and meaning (or lack there of) of the state he likes to call "the unbearable lightness of being". Oh, and some great politics and sex too. Any faithful Kundera fan will certainly enjoy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
For satire so poignant and caustic that the reader cannot help but to examine his or her own life through the eyes of the narrator, Farewell Waltz is an excellent example of why Mr. Kundera soon will win the Nobel Prize for Literature. --RMJ Duke University School of Law
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 16, 1998
Format: Paperback
All Kundera's books have a certain sadness in themselves, so typical for every Central European person, especially Slavic. This one is, however, also funny, but not in a way that you'll burst out laughing and roll down on the floor, but in a way that you will feel that special "sting" to your mind which will feel good and bitter at the same time. Look out for the word of a Czech-American "saint" and for the actions the spa fertility doctor undertakes and that is just enough. No other contemporary European author can be so philosophical and funny at the same time as Kundera. I rate this book 10 out of 10, for it is my favourite.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jens Lemcke on March 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
On the surface this novel couldt be regarded as mystery, but Kundera isn't a crime-writer at all. He keeps the reader always on track what's going on. Nevertheless the story becomes more and more suspenseful regarding the question wether there'll be at the end a victim or not. But that I don't reveal here. As ever I was very impressed by Kunderas mastership in drawing the characters. Every figure comes forward with all of it's strenghts and weakenings, with all of it's rarity and commonness. Nobody get's a prefered position by the author. Even nobody seems to bear the blame, blame appears more as dereliction. In a very subtile manner Kundera clarifies the reason why under communist dictatorships humanity failes more often than elsewhere.
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Format: Paperback
Summary:

"[For] Kundera, the individual is the smallest cell of society, the object, not the subject of history." - Elisabeth Pochoda

In a small spa town, seven characters searching for happiness find themselves intertwined in a waltz orchestrated by Milan Kundera. In five days you will be introduced to, and discover, the secrets and desires of a pretty nurse (Ruzena), a suspicious boyfriend, a gynecologist, a rich American, a famous trumpeter and his obsessively jealous wife and a former political prisoner about to leave the country. How far will the characters go to fulfill their will? Human morality, responsibility, and quest for stability are held under scrutiny and explored in this wonderfully written book.

Thoughts:

Full of wit, charm, sudden revelations and memorable quotes, this book is a true enchantment to read, bringing you into the lives of all these characters. You'll wonder when and where their interaction will occur and once you discover it, you won't be able to stop reading on to wonder where the characters will go next. A wonderful read that will certainly become a favorite.

Memorable quotes (as I translated from the French):

"Aesthetic racism is almost always a mark of inexperience. [...] When God invited humanity to love and to reproduce, doctor, he was thinking of the ugly just as much as the handsome. I am thus convinced that aesthetic criticism comes not from God, but from the Devil. In heaven, no one distinguishes between ugliness and beauty."

"I say that maternity is a curse and I refuse to contribute in it."

"I know only one thing; that I could never say with total conviction that man is a wonderful being and I want to reproduce it."

Go out and pick up the book today. Delve into this wonderful work by Milan Kundera!
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Farewell Waltz: A Novel
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