Identity – Milan Kundera

identity11
Pages: 152

Published: 1998
Translated from the French by Linda Asher

Challenges: Lost in translation; Support your local library challenge

Rating: 3.5/5

I have just finished this short book and am not sure how to rate it. It is not an average book, so I don’t want to give it an average rating. I think my view of it could change completely if I read it on a different day in a different frame of mind. Maybe that is one of the intentions of the book, not to be concrete, one thing or the other. This fits in with the theme of the story, as the title suggests, of identity and how a small shift in perception can change your point of view and subsequent behaviours entirely.

The central characters are Chantal and Jean-Marc. They are married and in love. Through a series of seemingly subtle events, their sense of their own identity and the identify of the other starts to shift. Individually they begin to query their beliefs about each other that previously seemed rock solid. With this questioning comes a feeling of lack of security, that which was always certain, perhaps no longer is.

There is not really a plot as such, each very short chapter is more a little philosophical exploration. The writing style is direct yet quite detached, even though the topic is deeply personal. It seems that the reader is not meant to care as much about the characters but more about the questions they are pondering which are questions universal to all.

Some of the conclusions Jean-Marc in particular decides upon, I thought were spot on and could really relate to.

So.. an interesting but not totally engaging read. I think I will tackle Kundera’s The unbearable lightness of being in the future, but not just yet..

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