In this dark farce of a novel, set in an old-fashioned Central European spa town, eight characters are swept up in an accelerating dance: a pretty nurse and her repairman boyfriend; an oddball gynecologist; a rich American (at once saint and Don Juan); a popular trumpeter and his beautiful, obsessively jealous wife; an disillusioned former political prisoner about to leave his country and his young woman ward.
Perhaps the most brilliantly plotted and sheerly entertaining of Milan Kundera's novels, Farewell Waltz poses the most serious questions with a blasphemous lightness that makes us see that the modern world has deprived us even of the right to tragedy.
Written in Bohemia in 1969-70, this book was first published (in 1976) in France under the title La valse aux adieux (Farewell Waltz), and later in 34 other countries. This beautiful translation, made from the French text prepared by the novelist himself, fully reflects his own tone and intentions. As such, it offers an opportunity for both the discovery and the rediscovery of one of the very best of a great writer's works.
©1973 Text copyright 1973 by Milan Kundera; new English translation copyright 1998 by Aaron Asher. (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
This story is infuriating and unpleasant at times--few of the characters are likable, but the translation and prose are beautiful and the story wrestles with some dense moral issues.
I haven't read Kundera in a long time, but I remember really loving his work. So perhaps when others said this wasn't a typical Kundera, I should have paid more attention. The story had just enough interesting reflections on life and love to keep me going, but I almost quit a few times. I feel like the reading was also a bit annoying, but it could be that it was simply a faithful rendering of a story I didn't enjoy that much.
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