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on 26 August 2016
This is an edited anthology of philosophical writings on immortality, ranging from ancient times (Plato) to the present. It includes a 70-page introduction to the main philosophical issues around immortality by the editor, a philosopher. This covers not only immortality, but also the mind-body problem and the nature of personal identity. Although these are relevant to immortality, most of his introduction (and quite a number of his selections) gets totally lost in detailed and esoteric philosophical disputes about those topics, very much aimed at the specialist - reading through, you get the impression he forgot this book was about immortality. Edwards is openly sceptical about all forms of immortality, but inappropriately dismissive and even sarcastic when writing about beliefs he does not share and writers he does not agree with.
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on 8 May 2015
very complete and interesting but unfortunately pages soon became very loose
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on 21 August 2000
As in the earlier "Unbearable lightness...", Kundera writes a novel based on extremely well crafted characters, and this time he also includes a couple of historical characters and himself as well. Kundera's style and language makes this novel very easy to read, but the material is in fact quite heavy. It's a joy to read, but quite troubling at some points. I highly recommend this book, but I tend to propose interested readers to read "Unbearable lightness..." or some other of Kundera's earlier novels before tackling "Immortality".
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on 21 August 1997
"_Immortality_ is a compilation of numerous authors, ancient and modern, who address the question of whether or not there is a life after death. Edwards provides an excellent seventy page introduction which guides the reader through other relevant philosophical issues, such as the nature of the vehicles' for survival of bodily death, the mind-body problem, the traditional Christian concept of bodily resurrection, the evidence and arguments for and against reincarnation, and the relationship between belief in God and belief in survival of bodily death--where Edwards stresses an often overlooked fact that one can believe in either without believing in both (Voltaire, for example, was a deist who believed that the universe had a Creator because he accepted the argument from design, but rejected belief in life after death; and many modern-day parapsychologists who believe they have evidence for survival are also atheists). Edwards also emphasizes that mind-brain dependence does not entail the truth
of a strict materialism that contends that mental states are identical to brain states; thus arguments against reductionist materialism are irrelevant to the factuality of the dependence of consciousness on the brain. _Immortality_ includes essays on life after death from such prominent historical thinkers as Plato, Lucretius, Tertullian, Descartes, Hume, Voltaire, and Kant to contemporary philosophers, parapsychologists, and theologians. _Immortality_ is clearly written and
well-structured, allowing both a historical survey of differing opinions on the issue and an evaluation of the state of the evidence and arguments today from authors with opposing viewpoints."
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on 5 November 2015
I am very unhappy with this purchase. The book was classified as having a "very good" condition. However, it came with missing and torn pages!!! Unacceptable!
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on 22 November 2012
In an opening with obvious Proustian overtones, the resistance of a gesture by an ageing dowager to properly conform to her maturity sparks off the construction of Kundera's novel. Construction is truly the word here, as we readers are invited from the inside into the author's process and Kundera obliges by laying open his various tricks and techniques to move the story along. The book, however, is less about that gesture and its properties than about coincidence, that long-time stalwart of the writer lost for plot connections. By employing this, Kundera manages to weave together the strands of his contemporary characters with sufficient clues for the intelligent reader to follow, but also telegraphs the signs to look for, leaving us knowing far more than the characters (and, it seems, the author) long in advance of the revelations of a new connection. There are two major problems with this. The first is that the aestheticised and intellectualised experience of life and sex by the characters is appallingly cold, distinctly lacking in humour and full of ominous portents. These latter turn into damp squibs when consequences arise because we find ourselves without a care for the aloof and emotionally retarded people who populate the novel, having anticipated their fate many pages before. The second is the inability for the best parts of the book, the historical sections that deal with immortality proper and exploring the reflexivity of figures who know themselves to be of historical importance or hope to be so, to interpolate with the lives and the story of the middle-class French dullards serving out their existence without enthusiasm in the rest of the book. Bettina and Goethe really are interesting, as Kundera shows, and quite deserving of their historical prominence even if this is due to entirely different methods to achieve it. The relationship between their vivid and dedicated attempts to control cultural memory and the fumblings of a modern and unimportant family (unimportant precisely because it is modern) without such driving forces makes the latter seem pathetic. Kundera's voice, so clearly at the surface of this novel, retains its fluent and calculating tone. Ultimately, he leaves us without knowing much about the fates of the people in which we are interested for the sake of the ones in which he clearly has a personal, and not historical, stake.
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VINE VOICEon 19 April 2009
From almost the first page, Kundera holds the reader with his assured, purposeful prose, and it feels as though we have been invited to watch the creation of the narrative itself. In the process of that creation, we become so intoxicated with the story, the characters and the mesmerising interplay of themes and ideas, that we quite forget we are watching fiction come into being. Instead, we become part of the story, as much as Kundera himself, and as such the novel almost infiltrates our reality. Only when we put the novel itself down on the table, and see its physicality of rectangle and paper, are we reminded of our own separate existence... an existence that is nevertheless affected by the novel long after we have ceased to read its words.

Kundera is highly intelligent, and a great thinker, and his novel is inseparable from intelligent thought. But it is never foisted on us; being so beautiful; being like something we've always known but never quite been able to name. The philosophical journeys, for what else can we call the novel's fairy-tale trips into the questions of love, life, the body, sex, history, immortality itself, are remarkable both for their poignancy and their sensual delight. There's also something terrible about them, or is it something sad?

The novel's characters, dance and leap in a complex pattern of textual interweaving, but not as with much post modern writing, to expose the machinations of the language. Some contemporary writers display contempt for the novel's form and are determined to undermine it; on the contrary, Kundera seems to be devoted to the novel and its narrative. The story is eminently satisfying, the characters as rich and fully realised beyond their textual existence, as any "being" can be.

Some novels are almost impossible to review, that's where the first reviewer has excelled in their metaphor of lunch and wine. Kundera says in the novel, that "the essence of an individual can only be expressed by means of metaphor." With that technique taken, I am left with adjectives, and only the most vibrant adjectives seem capable of expressing the essence of this novel: sensual, intoxicating, mesmerising.
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on 12 August 2015
Just received the book, very disappointed with the condition as definitely not in "good condition" as described but in poor condition: pages turned yellow, cover close to come off and most pages curled up.
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on 6 May 2004
I'll start by saying that I consider Milan Kundera to be the world's greatest living writer, and then mention that I believe this is his finest work, encompassing everything that it great about his writing.
The basic plot is about two sisters Agnes and Laura and their relationships with two radio broadcasters. But no one should read Kundera for the plot - there is always much more, and in this respect Immortality is no different to his earlier work.
So we get sections about Goethe and Hemingway, and three hundred pages into the book a new character is introduced on whom the narrative is focalised almost until the end. And there is Kundera's constant authorial voice, which is where, for me, this novel's genius is derived.
Kundera is a definite storyteller, in that he is always telling a story, and we are always aware that HE is telling it. And he tells it so deftly that he can bring to life highly realistic characters, and at the same time dismiss their reality. In Immortality, his presence is more clearly defined than ever, with numerous first person passages being included in which he describes meetings with his (presumably fictional) friend Professor Avenarius.
This is where one of the most remarkable features of the novel appears. Kundera (as a character) talks with Avenarius about the progress of his novel (the very novel which we read this in), and describes the characters of the novel as living alongside Avenarius, and therefore, presumably Kundera himself. There are further connections; for example he describes listening to the radio station which his characters work on.
You may well be thinking that I have misinterpreted a fairly standard first-person narration in which the narrator relates the lives of other characters. Perhaps I have. Perhaps Kundera has turned himself into a character. But if this is the case, then he certainly fooled me. The same wonderful authorial voice that can be found throughout his work is visible, and he even has the audacity at one point to give Avenarius (the character) a copy of one of his earlier novel's, Life is Elsewhere.
The way in which he breaks down the barriers between fiction and reality like this, to my mind, where the genius of Immortality lies. Kundera transcends the boundaries of storytelling, and yet still tells a fantastic story.
There is further greatness, such as the treatment of the main theme of immortality, and man's desire for it, but I have said enough, and there is too much to say about, and find within this incredible book.
Immortality is Milan Kundera at his most Kunderaesque. So, if you don't like Kundera, I don't recommend it to you. If you haven't read any Kundera, I don't really recommend it either: start with The Unbearable Lightness of Being or The Book of Laughter and Forgetting and get used to his voice rather than being plunged into a combination of that voice and the rest of the novel.
But if you haven't read any Kundera, then stop reading this and go and read some!
For me (someone who, you may have surmised, likes Milan Kundera very much indeed), this is one of the greatest books ever written, and I would urge everybody to read it at some point.
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on 24 May 2015
I was taken a little off-guard with this one, and can't really decide how I feel about it. Divided into seven parts, it starts out normally enough and then became a little strange, throwing me off and confusing me. I didn't know if it was just me, but I couldn't understand what was happening or what Kundera was trying to do. There was no specific flow to the story, it was all over the place, jumping back and forth in time and between characters. At one point, it felt like a collection of short stories instead of one comprehensive story line.

Some parts I enjoyed reading, other parts I was completely indifferent to. I liked the parts that involved Agnes and her journey in life. I loved the twists at the end where you slowly peeled back layers of her character until you discovered the shocking series of events that took place in her life. I had absolutely no interest in Laura, her sister, or Laura's relationship with Bernard Bertnard. I also had no interest in Goethe and Bettina's bizarre relationship and correspondence and her creepy obsession with him. I loved, however, the interactions between Goethe and Hemingway in the afterlife. That being said, I don't know how any of that was relevant to Agnes's story.

And then, as if all of that wasn't confusing enough, we have parts that seemed almost autobiographical as we read sections with Kundera himself having conversations with Professor Avenarius as they discuss Agnes and Laura among other things.

All in all, it was a good read, confusing in its nature, but good. Not sure I would recommend it to anyone though, I've had more enlightening experiences with some of Kundera's other novels.
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