Milan Kundera’s Slowness – Making It Slow

Tim Jones


The Czechoslovak author Milan Kundera’s first novel in French, Slowness, compares the heady speed of contemporary life unfavourably with the slowness of the eighteenth-century, epitomised for Kundera’s narrator by Vivant Denon’s novella No Tomorrow. A deconstruction of Slowness’ arguments reveals that its narrator is complicit with the trends he decries and so his own rhetoric is as malignly influenced by speed as that of the twentieth-century characters he denounces. His representations of both No Tomorrow and the eighteenth-century phenomenon of libertinism are little more than deceptively happy soundbites. By glorifying the qualities of slowness but failing to demonstrate them, however, the novel encourages a transformation within its implied ideal reader that allows her to rise above the problematic conceits of its narrator and make of his work a genuinely slow text.

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Review of European Studies   ISSN 1918-7173 (Print)   ISSN 1918-7181 (Online)

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