I’ve never read any Kundera, partly because I assumed he would write impenetrable prose. In fact, he is perfectly readable, the problem is more with the plot and his pre-occupations than his writing. The main issue I have is that for much of this novella, he seems to have little interest in the narrative at all. At times, the two protagonists, Chantal and Jean-Marc, seem merely vessels for Kundera’s (not particularly interesting) philosophical meditations, at other times they become psychoanalytical case studies without actually developing as characters. It took me several attempts to plough through it.
Then, suddenly, about half way through the (actually quite interesting) plot begins to grip and for 60 pages or so it actually works both as a story and as a convincing account of mutual misunderstanding within a relationship. However, the genuine tension that is created here is promptly squandered by some post-modern silliness at the end.
Strangely, despite my disappointment with Identity, I’m actually more inclined to read more by Kundera than I was before, and The Joke is supposed to be excellent. Maybe, I’ll try that next.