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....Continua
Maybe it's because this story is shorter with fewer characters and it's easier to follow. Irena and Josef met once by chance in their youth in Czechoslovakia. They then went their separate ways - Irena to France and Josef to Denmark - as immigrants. 20 years later, the fall of Communism brought the two back together in their home country.
The plot is simple, but the characters' eventful lives spanning 20 years and their complex feelings on immigration and return to the motherland are succinctly depicted in just under 200 pages. As in his other works, Milan Kundera also took every opportunity to share his thoughts on Communism, nationalism, relationship and of course, sex.
I don't know why, but I find this book more palatable than "The Unbearable Lightness of Being". Maybe I am getting old ......Continua