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Kundera, or, The Memory of Desire

By Eva Le Grand
Translated by Lin Burman
Subjects Literary Criticism
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Paperback : 9780889203273, 155 pages, August 1999

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Kundera or The Memory of Desire by Eva le Grand, translated by Lin Burman
Foreward: A Collaborative Reading | Guy Scarpetta
Part One: Kitsch and the Desire for Eternity
Part Two: Variation
Chapter One: A Voyage Inside the Time of Europe
Chapter Two: Novel-Variation or Crossroads
Part Three: Don Juan’s Final Glance, or the Memory of Desire
Epilogue: A Lesson from Epicurus: The Wisdom of Slowness


This is more than a literary critique — it is a work of perception, of analysis that reveals a portrait of Kundera the novelist as one of the greatest demystifiers of our time. This significant work deals with all of Milan Kundera’s novels up to his most recent work, Slowness, which marks the beginning of a new phase of his writing. It is the first work that studies Kundera as a novelist, rather than a philosopher or intellectual guide, and the only one that diverges from the beaten path in examining and in reflecting on the composition and style of these novels, to discern the underlying humanity and originality of the work as a whole and to finally establish the connections and correlation within and between the novels — connections that conventional criticism can never reveal.


Eva Le a professor, that is to say she is assigned in principle to inscribe literature in a pedagogical framework -- and yet, as this work shows brilliantly, nothing could be more alien to her than the current practice of rendering literature sterile. It is this, as much as her perfect knowledge of the slightest aspect of the work in question, and the exceptional complicity she obviously maintains with it, which for me constitutes the most important quality of her essay: nothing of Kundera's extraordinary insolence is erased, not even the most scatalogical motifs of his novels..., her mastery of the power of dis-idealization of these motifs is complete... One cannot imagine...a better incentive to read (or re-read) Kundera than this essay: it expresses, in all its nonconformity, a pleasure which Eva Le Grand renders irresistibly contagious.

- from the Foreword by Guy Scarpetta

Kundera or The Memory of Desire offers hope to all those who still care about aesthetics.

- Marguerite Andersen, Canadian Book Review Annual, 2005 February