Ignorance by Milan Kundera
A Novel

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A man and a woman meet by chance while returning to their homeland, which they had abandoned twenty years earlier when they chose 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." We always believe that our memories coincide with those of the person we loved, that we experienced the same thing. But this is just an illusion. Then again, what can we expect of our weak memory? It records only "an insignificant, minuscule particle" of the past, "and no one knows why it's this bit and not any other bit." We live our lives sunk in a vast forgetting, a fact we refuse to recognize. Only those who return after twenty years, like Odysseus returning to his native Ithaca, can be dazzled and astounded by observing the goddess of ignorance firsthand.

Milan Kundera is the only author today who can take such dizzying concepts as absence, memory, forgetting, and ignorance, and transform them into material for a novel, masterfully orchestrating them into a polyphonic and moving work.


About Milan Kundera

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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.
Published January 1, 2002 by Faber and Faber London. 154 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Romance. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Ignorance

Kirkus Reviews

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Czech émigré Kundera (Identity, 1998, etc.) returns to Prague for this hodgepodge of romance, history, and philosophy.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Ignorance: A Novel

The Guardian

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Ignorance by Milan Kundera, translated by Linda Asher 195pp, Faber, £16.99 Since Milan Kundera stopped writing fiction in Czech, he has produced two slim novels in French, Slowness (1996) and Identity (1998).

Nov 16 2002 | Read Full Review of Ignorance: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Martin is long dead, their children are grown and Irena is now being pressured to return to Prague by her Swedish lover, Gustaf, who has set up an office in the city.

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Entertainment Weekly

Admirers of Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being will be forgiven for a sense of deja vu when they read the Czech-born master's latest tiny offering, a familiar blend of philosophy about displacement and memory wedded to a plot about emigres returning to post-Communist Czechoslovakia,...

Oct 25 2002 | Read Full Review of Ignorance: A Novel


In the 1950s and ‘60s, Milan Kundera was a cultural icon in his native Czechoslovakia, but he didn’t really break through to the rest of the world until his masterful, landmark novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, was published in 1984.

Feb 12 2003 | Read Full Review of Ignorance: A Novel


In some of this book's best pages, Kundera explores the attachment between Josef and his deceased wife, and shows how he maintains a life with her.Kundera poetically captures the disorientation and loss that ŽmigrŽs feel when returning to a city or country after such a long time away.

Nov 21 2017 | Read Full Review of Ignorance: A Novel

London Review of Books

His new novel, Ignorance, isn’t about ignorance in the ordinary sense, but about the predicaments of both exile and homecoming: ‘In Spanish añoranza comes from the verb añorar (to feel nostalgia), which comes from the Catalan enyorar, itself derived from the Latin word ignorare (to be unaware of,...

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London Evening Standard

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Nov 04 2002 | Read Full Review of Ignorance: A Novel

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