The Farewell Party

by Milan Kundera

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Last Updated September 6, 2023.


Klima, the protagonist of The Farewell Party, is a trumpeter who has achieved fame through his virtuosic jazz performances. Klima interprets his musical passion as equivalent to sexual passion, which he uses to justify his infidelity to his wife. When his one-time mistress Ruzema becomes pregnant and claims he is the father, he encourages her to have an abortion. Klima’s capacity for self-deception leads him to believe that he has a great ability to deceive others. His sexual preoccupations are matched only by his worries about his inadequacies as a musician, despite his fame.


Ruzena, a nurse at a rural spa, exhibits jealousy toward the wealthy female patrons at the resort. Her liaison with Klima, who she believes got her pregnant, drives her desire to escape her humdrum life.


Bartleff, an American, is a patient at the spa. Having enjoyed his life, the illness that has appeared later in his life has not quashed his spirited character. He is shown to be the painter of religious subjects, and he also has a wife (who is much younger than him) and a son. Bartleff's intelligence is tempered by his ego, however, as he relishes attention.


Kamila, Klima’s wife, is a singer whose career was arrested by her illness. Kamila, although devoted to Klima, recognizes an inherent dishonesty in Klima’s character that piques her jealousy.

Dr. Skreta

Dr. Skreta is the spa’s director. Although he is a gynecologist, his misogyny and his arrogance taint his ability to treat his patients. Skreta’s hubris is of such a nature that he has concocted a convoluted plan to impregnate unsuspecting women with his own sperm in order to populate the earth with his progeny.


Franta is a mechanic who desperately loves Ruzena. Alternating between stoic forbearance and jealous rage, Franta claims paternity in Ruzena’s pregnancy and staunchly encourages her to bear his child.


Jakub is middle-aged and a former political activist who loves his ward, Olga. Jakub, who over-intellectualizes everything, is also exceptionally moralistic. Formerly imprisoned for his dissident positions, he can now legally emigrate but feels guilty about leaving his homeland.


Olga, a delicate young woman, is a patient at the spa. She became Jakub’s ward after her father was executed for political reasons. Highly intelligent, she sees through her guardian’s patronizing attitudes. However, her self-image as a confident, modern woman clashes with her habit of retreating back into her private bubble whenever she encounters life’s difficult situations.

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