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L'Insostenibile Leggerezza Dell'Essere…
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L'Insostenibile Leggerezza Dell'Essere (Italian Edition) (original 1984; edition 2002)

by Milan Kundera (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
17,973209135 (4.03)2 / 350
Member:GiorgiaSanchini
Title:L'Insostenibile Leggerezza Dell'Essere (Italian Edition)
Authors:Milan Kundera (Author)
Info:Adelphi (2002)
Collections:Your library
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Work details

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (1984)

  1. 30
    The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (Eustrabirbeonne)
  2. 30
    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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Showing 1-5 of 169 (next | show all)
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 |
I like a book that makes me think. This book made me think hard. It's definitely NOT a light read, and every time I pick it up I ought to be in proper condition in order to really understand it.

Sometimes I love how Kundera reasons out everything his characters do, sometimes I don't. He gives me new perspectives, and they're profound and/or heartbreakingly true. But then sometimes I want him to just leave the characters alone and for once, let their smile mean that they're simply happy and nothing else, nothing symbolically deep.

I loved Tereza and Tomas. But Sabina and Franz— ack. I can easily describe the former two: I felt their pains, I understood them, they were almost real people to me. Their stories meant something. But the latter two, they felt like a passing story. Like, okay. So it's you two again. That last part involving them kinda bummed me because I didn't like their stories as much as I did Tereza's and Tomas'. That whole kitsch shit? Ugh. The worst. I never cared, I skimmed that part.

My heart goes out to Tereza. That is all.
I have never been inside the head of a womanizer (I've watched a lot in TV shows and movies, but they've never rationalized their deeds as Kundera did Tomas') and it was a fresh thing, for me. Not that Kundera justified womanizing. He simply gave reasons why they do what they do. They were plausible.

That's it. 3.5/5
Loves are like empires: when the idea they are founded on crumbles, they, too, fade away.” (p. 169) ( )
  heycaye | Feb 14, 2018 |
I have tried to read this. I can't get into it. It's unusual for me to drop a book but I'm dropping this one.
  ReneePaule | Jan 23, 2018 |
I came very close to giving up on this book. Despite having read Kundera before and loved him, despite this book being on the bookslut 100, and fitting at least two categories on my book bingo challenge. This book shifts between the point of view of the author and four of the main characters. The first character, Tomas, I found nearly unbearable. Burned by divorce, Tomas develops a set of rules for "erotic friendships," a system that works for him until he falls in love with Tereza. His self-pitying attitude about his inability to give up these affairs despite their effects on Tereza, who he supposedly loves, made me want to hold his face under water. But then the point of view shifts to Tereza (who is also not perfect, but at least sympathetic), and it kept me from giving up.

The unbearable jerkness of Tomas aside, there was so much to this book that was wonderful. In particular, the way our personal metaphors shape our lives -- can make two people incompatible, or can make someone fall in love. If you want to just read a story, this book is not for you. If you want to think about the hows and whys of stories, how we are shaped by our past, our loves, the political situation of our surroundings in both predictable and unexpected ways, of both the importance and the triviality of these stories, then I don't know how you could not fall under the spell of this book.

I also was intrigued by the collisions between leftist-anarchism and the communist police-state, the way people were betrayed by a system they expected to make real their ideals, and how they made sense of that betrayal.

In short, Tomas bothered me enough that I couldn't give this book the full 5 stars most of my friends have, but I still found it profoundly interesting. ( )
  greeniezona | Dec 6, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 169 (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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 10 descriptions

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