Milan Kundera’s latest novel is just like all his other novels, a masterpiece. An illustrative mingling of history, philosophy, critique of society and individualism, but also downthrown of ideas we thought were invariable. Even from the first Milan Kundera's novel I read, I have always admired his extraordinary talent of making history and its main actors present in the unfolding of current affairs, or in the explanation of current affairs. Thus, historical actors acquire a right to be seen in a totally new light, and not in order to excuse themselves, over years, to the current generations, but to explain themselves. It is the case, in this novel, of Stalin and the story of the twenty-four francolins.
The scenery or the places where the action takes place have little or almost no significance, and only those elements important to the story are described. Again, another thing I truly admire in Milan Kundera’s narration is that it lets the readers invent their own setting (if necessary), stressing more on the action. Thus, mom’s portrait of one of the four main characters of the novel is described as hanging on a wall, and then we find out about its significance.
Significance or insignificance? There are a lot of elements in the narration that present both of them. In a most democratic way, both the characters and the reader can choose one of the two values in order to bring themselves peace. Sometimes, even both of the values.
I cannot remain insensible to the description of the gigantic tree. It is so beautifully described that I’d be inclined to take it as irony addressed to the feminine. But I take the democratic right mentioned above and I choose to see the description as a frank and unbiased one. As for ‘the army of apologizers’, I tend to think there are more of them out there then we’d expect.