Slowness, Identity and Ignorance: Milan Kundera’s French Variations

Jones, Tim (2012) Slowness, Identity and Ignorance: Milan Kundera’s French Variations. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This thesis explores in detail three academically neglected novels by Milan Kundera: Slowness (1995),
Identity (1998) and Ignorance (2002). Originally written in French, the author’s second language,
after six novels, a short-story collection and a play originally written in Czech, these texts are often
bracketed off from the rest of his writing and seen as something of an inferior addendum. This is
despite clear thematic similarities that cross the linguistic divide and that I demonstrate here are of
central significance to the author’s entire novelistic project.
This exploration not only reveals that these three French novels place in the foreground themes that
have rippled in and out of focus across Kundera’s earlier Czech work and so are of central importance
to Kundera as a novelist. It also shows that the lateness of the variations on the themes of slowness,
identity and ignorance within these three French novels does not hold everything in common with the
lateness that Adorno locates in late Beethoven. It is true that like late Beethoven, Kundera’s late
variations on these themes demonstrate the manoeuvres of an oeuvre sensing its death across the
horizon. But through the specific nature of the late variations on slowness, identity and ignorance, the
oeuvre works hard to pull its readers down into the textual spaces of these three late novels with a
fresh urgency, rather than truculently push them away, so that Kundera’s audience might be
adequately prepared to continue its own voyages once the oeuvre has played its final notes.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Mia Reeves
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2014 12:16
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2014 12:16
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/50555
DOI:

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