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The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan…
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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (original 1984; edition 1999)

by Milan Kundera

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
20,992253159 (4.01)2 / 393
Interweaves story and dream, past and present, and philosophy and poetry in a sardonic and erotic tale of two couples--Tomas and Teresa, and Sabina and her Swiss lover, Gerhart.
Member:lkhohmann
Title:The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Authors:Milan Kundera
Info:Perennial Classics (1999), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 314 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
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Work Information

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (1984)

  1. 30
    The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (Eustrabirbeonne)
  2. 20
    Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar (olonec)
    olonec: I'd call this one The Unbearable Heaviness of Being
  3. 21
    Sophie's Choice by William Styron (rretzler)
  4. 00
    Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind (sturlington)
  5. 00
    Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler (charlie68)
    charlie68: Similar themes
  6. 11
    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.
  7. 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.
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English (205)  Spanish (14)  French (9)  Dutch (7)  Italian (5)  German (2)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Romanian (1)  Catalan (1)  Danish (1)  Arabic (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Hebrew (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (251)
Showing 1-5 of 205 (next | show all)
So many confusing feelings. Many times I felt like a voyeur into the human psyche. Put it off for ages, glad I finally read it. ( )
  Joannerdrgs | Sep 22, 2022 |
Imagine you go to a party. You want to have a little fun, and you don’t mind some enlightened conversation, but there is this guy at the party who cannot stop trying to impress. He is smart, and he has some good ideas, but he is trying too hard, and to boot, he keeps checking himself in every mirror he passes, because he thinks he is the cat’s meow. You’d like him better, maybe you would like him a lot, if he just didn’t try so hard to make sure that everyone else knows that he is the smartest, cutest, highest IQ in the room.

Now imagine that guy is a book, and it will be The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

There is a lot there; some weighty issues are tackled. Kundera gives us some insight into the situation in Czechoslovakia during the Russian occupation.

Human life occurs only once, and the reason we cannot determine which of our decisions are good and which bad is that in a given situation we can make only one decision; we are not granted a second, third, or fourth life in which to compare various decisions.

I mean, I agree with that. I have often thought that we come to crossroads in life, not a choice between good and bad, but just between two directions: one career over another, one city to live in over another, someone to marry or not. We choose a direction, and we cannot ever know what the other direction would have led us to...and that particular choice, that moment never comes again. So, nothing wrong with the philosophy he espouses.

There is a pretty good story buried in here as well. I liked parts of the novel, and wanted to see what would happen to the characters. Through his four main characters, Kundera illustrates how little individuals understand about one another and how mistaken they can be in what they believe the other person is thinking or feeling. He also seems to be saying that the only truly unconditional love we get is from our pets (the relationship between Tereza and the dog, Karenin, is one of my favorite parts of this book), and I wouldn’t wholly disagree with that.

But, I did not enjoy the emphasis on the sex. I got the point he was making, and then I got it again, and again, and again.

This was a very difficult review to write. I felt there was something important being said, but something was off-kilter for me. I couldn’t like the book. I wanted to...mostly, I felt I should. Perhaps he has simply reached over my head. It’s obvious to me that he is smart and capable, but I think either he isn’t quite as brilliant as he has been made out to be or I am not intelligent enough to fully appreciate his brilliance. ( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
8447300048
  archivomorero | Jun 27, 2022 |
8447300048
  archivomorero | Jun 25, 2022 |
I love it when books intersect one another. I am finishing up Tolstoy's Anna Karenina and learn that the dog in The Unbearable Lightness of Being is named after Karenin. The Unbearable Lightness of Being reminded me of another book as well, Orchard. I found myself asking the same question about morality. What form of "cheating" is worse, emotional infidelity or physical betrayal in the form of fornication? Is there something to be said for complete and utter loyalty? Either way, I didn't like any of the characters so that made The Unbearable Lightness of Being all the more difficult to enjoy. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jun 15, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 205 (next | show all)
35 livres cultes à lire au moins une fois dans sa vie
Quels sont les romans qu'il faut avoir lu absolument ? Un livre culte qui transcende, fait réfléchir, frissonner, rire ou pleurer… La littérature est indéniablement créatrice d’émotions. Si vous êtes adeptes des classiques, ces titres devraient vous plaire.
De temps en temps, il n'y a vraiment rien de mieux que de se poser devant un bon bouquin, et d'oublier un instant le monde réel. Mais si vous êtes une grosse lectrice ou un gros lecteur, et que vous avez épuisé le stock de votre bibliothèque personnelle, laissez-vous tenter par ces quelques classiques de la littérature.
 
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)
 
1984
Milan Kundera
L'insoutenable légèreté de l'être
traduit du tchèque par F. Kérel, Gallimard
«Cette sinueuse chute vers la mort, cette lente destruction mutuelle de deux êtres qui s'aiment sera aussi pour chacun d'eux [...] la récupération d'une certaine paix intérieure.» (Lire, février 1984)
 
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.
 

» 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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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?
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.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

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

No library descriptions found.

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Haiku summary
Tomas likes women
Teresa and Sabina
How does kitsch fit in?
(DarrylLundy)

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