The Farewell Waltz

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The Farewell Waltz
First English edition
AuthorMilan Kundera
Original titleValčík na rozloučenou
TranslatorPeter Kussi
PublisherAlfred A. Knopf
Publication date
Published in English
891.8/6354 21
LC ClassPG5039.21.U6 V313 1998

The Farewell Waltz (Czech: Valčík na rozloučenou) is a Czech-language novel by Milan Kundera published in 1972. A French edition was published in 1976 and an English version entitled The Farewell Party.

This novel mostly deals with love, hate and accidents between eight characters who are drawn together in a small spa town in Czechoslovakia in early 1970s.

Like most Kundera's work The Farewell Waltz is a book of many layers. On the surface it is a comedy or a burlesque. Still the comedy is just at the top of this story which involves much darker and ambiguous tones.[1]



Růžena is a young and pretty nurse who has, allegedly, become pregnant from Klíma.


František is a guy with a motorbike who believes that Růžena is his girlfriend, and that he is the father of the child she is carrying. He desperately wants to marry her, even though he knows of her affair with Klíma.


Klíma is a trumpeter from a big orchestra, a Don Juan who had a one-night stand with Růžena and completely forgot about her until she informed him that she would be having a baby.


Kamila was formerly a popular songstress, Kamila had to end her career because of health problems. She is Klíma's wife and is extremely jealous of her husband and always suspects him of having affairs.


Škréta is a gynecologist at the spa who wants to be adopted by Bertlef so he could become an American citizen, and who has an original method for helping couples that can't have babies


Bertlef is a rich American with poor health who has to spend most of his time in the spa town. Thanks to Škréta he and his wife were able to have a baby (it is presumed that this was a case of Škréta's sperm treatment).


Jakub is a former political prisoner, who now has received a permission to leave Czechoslovakia. He is paying his last visit to his friend Škréta, who once gave him a pill of poison for committing suicide if he felt that all hope was lost.


Jakub's "ward" Olga is the daughter of a man who once betrayed Jakub. She believes (because Jakub has told her so) that her father was Jakub's best friend.