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The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan…
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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984)

by Milan Kundera

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
18,144211137 (4.03)2 / 353
  1. 40
    The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (Eustrabirbeonne)
  2. 21
    Sophie's Choice by William Styron (rretzler)
  3. 00
    Love by Angela Carter (Ludi_Ling)
    Ludi_Ling: Both treatments on the intricacies of love and romantic/sexual relationships. Kundera's is the more readable of the two, but the themes running through them are very similar.
  4. 00
    Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar (olonec)
    olonec: I'd call this one The Unbearable Heaviness of Being
  5. 01
    In Praise of Older Women by Stephen Vizinczey (soylentgreen23)
    soylentgreen23: The perfect companion piece, since it deals with a lot of sex, women, affairs, and surviving in Communist Eastern Europe.
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English (172)  Spanish (12)  French (9)  Dutch (7)  German (2)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Romanian (1)  Catalan (1)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Hebrew (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (211)
Showing 1-5 of 172 (next | show all)
Flawless. One of the five best books I’ve ever read. It changed my life. What else can I say... ( )
  ProfH | Jan 27, 2019 |
Si Milan Kundera define su propia novela (aunque es mucho más que una simple novela) como una obra que está más allá de la filosofía y de la psicología, tratando de buscar la esencia existencial de los personajes, para los millones de lectores que se han sumergido en su lectura, será lago así como un alivio, un llanto o un desgarro sentimiento de dolor.

El ser leve de Kundera relata, con una hermosura sencilla y profunda, la vida cotidiana de Tomás y Teresa, de Sabina y Franz, de Tomás y Sabina y de Franz y la estudiante de gafas. Sea como fuere, parece que la historia que Kundera nos plantea, no es más que una excusa para exponernos una serie de cuestiones, o verdades irrefutables, en referencia al ser humano, o al no ser, en forma de capítulos breves y dinámicos, que provocan una pausa después de cada reflexión.

Y a su vez, como el mismo confiesa, se esconde detrás de sus personajes. Pues asegura que es imposible escribir sobre algo ajeno a él. A la par, haciendo que esta filosofía forme parte de los echos más ordinarios de las personas, crea un nexo entre el lector y el escritor, ayudándole a ahondar en su propio ser, en su propia levedad, o en su propio peso. De una forma puramente hermosa, tal y como si se tratase de un padre hablando con su hijo.

El análisis de la obra puede ser muy exhaustivo, y seguramente cada cual lo interprete a su manera, lo cuál es la magia de la literatura. Y al contrario que ocurre con otras obras filosóficas (lo siento, Kundera), es fácilmente entendible, sencillamente accesible, porque el autor no quiere poner barreras entre el saber y el ser. ( )
  MiriamBeizana | Dec 3, 2018 |
A very interesting book. The authorial voice is very strong, but I like it. ( )
  CharlotteBurt | Nov 24, 2018 |
Excerpted from my original GR review (Feb 2011):
- A deeply philosophical novel, set during "Prague Spring" and the resultant invasion by the Soviets in 1968. The author witnessed the unfolding events firsthand; all of his works were banned in Communist Czechoslovakia until after the Velvet Revolution.
- He wastes no time setting the discourse: he argues against Nietzsche's "eternal return" viewpoint, in effect espousing the idea of a linear, non-repeating stream of life, versus a circular, infinitely looping timeline.
- The actors in this novel are certainly vehicles for Kundera's intellectual material, but there is at its core a legitimate story of Czech citizens caught up in the political turmoil. The action is centered on Tomas, acclaimed surgeon, mildly mocking of the Soviet occupation, and an unrestrained sex addict and womanizer. His wife, Tereza, budding photographer who has her own brush with the authorities, loves him despite his dalliances..
- The two are able to flee the country, apparently finding freedom and stability in Zurich, but Tereza desperately misses her homeland and returns, with Tomas close behind.. Tomas's metaphorical letter to a Prague newspaper, laying fault for the tyrannical state of affairs on even those who claimed not to know better, marks him for surveillance and his surgical career is ruined. Eventually, he and Tereza find solace and apparent cover from intrigues of the city, when they, along with loyal dog Karenin, move far into the countryside. They discover a well of happiness in their isolation, and a glimmer of hope that Tomas has evaded the long reach of censure. One can hope.
- There is a secondary pair of players here - one of Tomas's mistresses, Sabina and her enraptured lover Franz, and this makes for an interesting divergence and helps serve the author's frequent slides into philosophy. And, let me be clear: Kundera never wavers far from his thesis. For example, he examines the concept of "kitsch" in some depth, and frankly this loses me. In it's entirety, this is an impressive intellectual novel, and though encased with high-minded themes, the story of Tomas and Tereza, representative of an oppressed and fearful people, finds its own daylight. My favorite chapter? The last one. Karenin's Smile(~: ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Mar 25, 2018 |
Cuatro porque a pesar de ser un libro que trata problemas filosóficos y nos pone a pensar, mi disposición no era la mejor al momento de leerlo. Como un amigo me dijo: es mejor cuando estás o has salido recientemente de una relación intensa y conflictiva. No niego la capacidad de Kundera para describir de manera precisa y genial los más profundos problemas y preguntas existenciales del hombre; en esto es un maestro y se merece un cinco redondo. Habrá que releerlo en un futuro, bajo condiciones más propicias (es decir, más adversas).
Una vez más, el libro y la circunstancia del lector no coincidieron. Me quedo con esta frase: "El tiempo humano no da vueltas en redondo, sino que sigue una trayectoria recta. Ese es el motivo por el cual el hombre no puede ser feliz, porque la felicidad es el deseo de repetir." ( )
  andresborja42 | Mar 24, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 172 (next | show all)
This is a book to bring home how parochial and inward looking most fiction written in the English language is. There is no possible way that The Unbearable Lightness Of Being could have been written by a British or US author, or indeed any other anglophile. The mind set, the life experiences and especially the history it is written from are all too different. While the thrust of this book is by no means the same, I was reminded by its sensibility of the work of Bohumil Hrabal – not surprisingly also a Czech author.

The book is unusual in another sense – it breaks most of the rules that aspiring writers are advised to adhere to. A lot of the action is told to us rather than shown, Kundera addresses the reader directly, inserts his opinions into the narrative, tells us his interpretations of the characters. He also messes with chronology (admittedly not a major drawback, if one at all) and parenthetically gives us important information about some characters in sections which ostensibly deal with others. In parts, especially in the author’s musings on kitsch as the denial of the existence of crap - in all its senses - in the world, it reads as a treatise rather than an exploration of the human condition. That is, at times it is not fiction at all.

Kundera is highly regarded, so is this the essence of high art in fiction? That, as well as dealing with “important” subjects - or perhaps being considered to be circumscribed yet still endeavouring to tell truth to power (whatever truth may be) - the author should step beyond the bounds of narrative; of story?

The problem with such an approach is that it tends to undermine suspension of disbelief. The characters become too obviously constructs; the reader is in danger of losing sympathy, or empathy, with them; or indeed to care. It is a fine line to tread.

Where The Unbearable Lightness Of Being is not unusual is in its treatment of those novelistic eternals love, sex and death. Indeed at times it seems to be fixated on sex.

While the exigencies of living in a totalitarian state do colour the narrative, the treatment is matter of fact, oblique, almost incidental. The choices the characters make merely fall within the constraints of such a system. It is true, however, that something similar could be said for characters in any milieu. There are constraints on us all.

What I did find disappointing was that rather than finish, the book just seemed to stop. While the fates of the characters Kundera leaves us with are already known, this hardly seemed fair. "Leave them wanting more" may be an old showbiz adage but in the context of a one-off novel might be thought to be a failing.
added by jackdeighton | editA Son Of The Rock, Jack Deighton (Jan 17, 2011)
 
The world, and particularly that part of the world we used to call, with fine carelessness, eastern Europe, has changed profoundly since 1984, but Kundera's novel seems as relevant now as it did when it was first published. Relevance, however, is nothing compared with that sense of felt life which the truly great novelists communicate.
 
The mind Mr. Kundera puts on display is truly formidable, and the subject of its concern is substantively alarming.
 
Moments of Olympian distance, in which the author shows his mortals ignorantly creeping toward oblivion, alternate with passages of stirring intimacy, with the novelist playing cheerleader, urging victories for everyone.
added by Shortride | editTime, Paul Gray (Apr 16, 1984)
 
''The Unbearable Lightness of Being'' is a fairly straightforward inquiry into the intertwined fates of two pairs of lovers. The fact that it aspires to be a more conventional novel accounts for both its virtues and its flaws. If ''Lightness'' demonstrates a new capacity, on Mr. Kundera's part, to create sympathetic characters and sustain a lyrical story, the increased formality of its narrative design also tends to throw a harsher light on his penchant for philosophical digression.
 

» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kundera, Milanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barbato, AntonioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Valenzuela, FernandoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heim, Michael HenryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oliver, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roth, SusannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Siraste, KirstiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valenzuela, Fernando deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zgustová, MonikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Шульгина, НинаTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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La idea del eterno retorno es misteriosa y con ella Nietzsche dejó perplejo a los demás filósofos...
The idea of eternal return is a mysterious one, and Nietzsche has often perplexed other philosophers with it: to think that everything recurs as we once experienced it, and that the recurrence itself recurs ad infinitum! What does this mad myth signify?
Die Ewige Wiederkehr ist ein geheimnisvoller Gedanke, und Nietzsche hat damit manchen Philosophen in Verlegenheit gebracht: alles wird sich irgendwann so wiederholen, wie man es schon einmal erlebt hat, und auch diese Wiederholung wird sich unendlich wiederholen!
Quotations
When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.
Tomas did not realize at the time that metaphors are dangerous. Metaphors are not to be trifled with. A single metaphor can give birth to love.
...vertigo is something other than the fear of falling.  It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts us and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060932139, Paperback)

A young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing; one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover—these are the two couples whose story is told in this masterful novel. In a world in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and by fortuitous events, a world in which everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. Hence, we feel "the unbearable lightness of being" not only as the consequence of our pristine actions but also in the public sphere, and the two inevitably intertwine.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:30 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Interweaves story and dream, past and present, and philosophy and poetry in the sardonic and erotic tale of two couples--Tomas and Teresa, and Sabina and her Swiss lover, Gerhart.

» see all 10 descriptions

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