This review is sung by Freddy Mercury to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody.Is this a fiction Is this just fantasy Not just a narrativeOf Czech infidelity.Reader four eyesLook onto the page and readI m just a Prague boy, I ve sex with empathyBecause I m easy come, easy goA little high, little lowAny Soviet era Czech knows, unbearable lightness of beingGood Reads, just read a bookPut a bookmark on the pagePlayed my audio now it s readGood Reads, the book had just begunBut now I ve read all Milan had to sayGood Reads, oooDidn t mean to make you sighIf I m not back again this time tomorrowCarry on, carry on, unbearable lightness of beingToo late, this book is doneA short book no need to break the spineBody s just egalitarianGood read everybody I ll say soGotta leave you all behind and face the truthGood Reads, ooo any Soviet era Czech knows I don t want the book to endI sometimes wish I d never started to read at allI read a little dialogue from of a manTomas, Tomas will you make love to Teresa Thunderbolt and lightning very nearly enticing meRepetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Kundera Metaphor But I m just a Prague boy and many women love meHe s just a Prague boy from a Czech familyFlair is his prose from this virtuosityEasy come easy go will you let me goBohemia No we will not let you go let him goBohemia We will not let you go let him goBohemia We will not let you go let me goWill not let you go let me go never Never let you go let me goNever let me go oooNo, no, no, no, no, no, noOh Milan Kundera, Milan Kundera says its soPremier Brezhnev has a gulag put aside for meFor meFor me Brian May melts our faces with a blistering guitar solo while Wayne and Garth head bang in a Pacer Soviet tanks can occupy and eat our pieNaked women can sing and leave me to dieOh Milan, Kant German sex MilanJust gotta go Swiss just gotta get right outta hereOoh yeah, ooh yeahUnbearable lightnessAnyone can readUnbearable lightness unbearable lightness of beingAny Soviet era Czech knows I have a bone to pick with Kundera and his following People, this has got to be the most over rated book of human history I mean, references to infidelity alone even infidelity that makes use of funky costumes like 50s ganster hats the only note and applauseworthy aspect this book do NOT make for good literature, and such is The Unbearable Lightness of Being, in a nutshell The male protaganist is, hands down, a one dimensional and boring buffoon, while the female protaganist is lackluster and underdeveloped This book is not but chicken soup for those obnoxious, lonely intellectuals who wish they could be playaz, and therefore admire Dr Love s trite antics In addition, Kundera s references to philosophy and Beethoven were clearly extracted from a cracker jack box In conclusion, the emperor has no clothes Kundera following and you are the majority , free yourselves , and stop pretending that this book is good. There is probably one novel that is the most responsible for the direction of my post graduation European backpacking trip ten years ago which landed me in Prague for two solid weeks Shortly before my friend Chad and I departed, he mailed me a letter and directed me to get my hands on a copy of Milan Kundera s The Unbearable Lightness of Being Just read it, he wrote Whatever else you do, just read this book It is about everything in the world.Being already a Kafka fan of some long standing, I was quite open to another absurdly minded Czech telling the story of his city and by extension the rest of the world The title itself was familiar, though not the author s name, and I rather innocently mistook Kundera for a woman at first glance at the cover Suffice to say, Kundera had me at the very first paragraph Has any other modern novel had such a wonderfully philosophical opening than this one 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 In two sentences, the very first two, Kundera not only manages to break several writing rules of style an exclamation mark, followed by a direct address to the reader being the most obvious , but he also succinctly sums up one of the most challenging philosophical concepts, yet is wise enough to address it on its own terms as a mad myth From the earliest possible chance, the author is telling us that he is indeed an intellectual, that he writes energetically, playfully, and that serious Ideas with the full timbre basso profundo tolling out that capital I are the very pith and marrow of novels and are not to be stuffed, labeled, and set up high on a shelf reserved for great thoughts too refined and delicate to mingle among the common rabble of characters and dialogue and action.Needless to say, this is a heady mix, the kind of thing to go straight to a recent college graduate with literature and philosophy on the brain And we haven t even touched on the sex yet Kundera s books are rife with sex, sex is the other engine driving this dually powered writer, sex both passionate and routine, sex filled up with deep emotional meaning and sex stripped down to its tangible physicality, sex as recurring motif in one s life illuminating greater insights into one s personality and sex as secret door into the aesthetics of our time.To write, as some have, that the book is primarily about erotic encounters is as much as to say that Beethoven was a guy who played piano Instead it is a book about tyranny, the large and the small, the ones we endure and the ones we resist, the ones we submit to for love and the ones that always rankle silently The tyranny of kitsch, as understood by the novel, kitsch to mean a subjective, sentimental folding screen that hides away the sight of death The questions that the book seeks to explore circle around the ideas of polar opposites, truth and lies, love and hate or indifference , freedom and slavery, heaviness and lightness.The Kundera style is a very delightful bit and piecework manner We focus on one character, that character s perceptions, that character s perspectives, in little miniatures, some essay like, that elaborate on the character s psychology or history Then we shift to another character and learn new things about that person, sometimes touching on the same pieces we ve seen already It s like Rashomon but expansive, drawing circles around lives and eras instead of merely one night s events.Part of what Kundera does is move the story along through first one person, then go back in time and retell only some of that story focused on a second person and demonstrate how our best attempts at comprehending each other remains woefully inadequate There will always be layers fathoms below our drilling Yet at the same time, Kundera moves the story forward, stops, switches character again and in this third instance either goes back to person number one or switches to person number three and repeats the process, and repeats again What emerges is rather like conflicting court testimony, multiple moving parts simultaneously illuminating their own motivations and obscuring others.If there is a weakness to all of this it is that Kundera s novels sometimes develop the quality of theoretical exercises between characters embodying certain philosophical conceits While the author may touch the mind and the libido, the heart often remains chilly There is a sense of artificiality when you stare too longly at the book s constructs, as though the author were merely embodying an essay with puppets for illustrative purposes Though what precisely does lie behind our disagreements and disconnections from others than differing mental states We fall out of love with someone not because of the size of her bottom or his new haircut, but because our lives shift in differing directions and we can no longer think in the same cohesive manner with the other person Our ideas become different What are our wants but our ideas given concrete form and targets Metaphors are dangerous, the author writes than once throughout the novel Metaphors are not be trifled with A single metaphor can give birth to love So thinks the novel s hero Tomas, the epic womanizer, as he reflects on how he came to love Tereza who is soon his wife This couple, a marriage dancing around secrets and each of the partner s inability to communicate finally the truth about who they are to their spouse, is used for comparison and contrast with Franz, a middle aged married professor in Switzerland who is in love with one of Tomas exiled Czech mistresses, the artist Sabine Their stories are told against the backdrop of the Russian invasion and subjugation of Czechoslovakia during the Cold War.Kundera twines their two stories together examining how love can either lift us up to heights of ecstasy or weigh us down with its solidity and unchangeable reality then poses the surprising question which condition should we view as the negative in binary opposition Is it the uncentered lack of gravity that makes love real and powerful or does that quality make us too airy and flighty, unserious when we most need it Or rather can it be love s grounding quality that allows us to feel with stability the other s existence or does that weight merely pin us down, smother us with its heft Can it be both Can it be that when couples part it is because what is lighter than a breeze for one has become a leaden drag on the other This is push and pull of ideas and language and sentiments is beautifully illustrated in the novel s third part, titled Words Misunderstood, in which Kundera examines how Sabina and Franz s inability to understand the terms the other uses leads to their separation This is done through a sort of anecdotal dictionary that allows each character to demonstrate their grasp of an idea The shortest bluntly captures some of the magic of this portion CEMETERY Cemeteries in Bohemia are like gardens The graves are covered with grass and colorful flowers Modest tombstones are lost in the greenery When the sun goes down, the cemetery sparkles with tiny candles It looks as though the dead are dancing at a children s ball Yes, a children s ball, because the dead are as innocent as children No matter how brutal life becomes, peace always reigns in the cemetery Even in wartime, in Hitler s time, in Stalin s time, through all occupations When she felt low, Sabina would get into the car, leave Prague far behind, and walk through one or another of the country cemeteries she loved so well Against a backdrop of blue hills, they were as beautiful as a lullaby For Franz a cemetery was an ugly dump of stones and bones.And this too is part of the novel s recurring genius At every stage, there is an elegiac note to happiness as though all these dances have been gone through before, as though all love affairs, even should Nietzsche be wrong, carry within them the seeds of their own endings Franz and Sabina s inability to even understand each other on very basic levels dooms their romance from the beginning Their tragedy is commonplace and follows a pattern as though ritualized.Tereza and Tomas marriage we see is held together only by each other s willingness to commit to it and to some third greater thing than either of themselves, though what that third thing is neither of them understand For each of them separately, it is a kind of death to be together and a kind of death to be apart, and together their momentary happinesses are a kind of staving off of this specter.Kundera nicely ends The Unbearable Lightness of Being, foreshadowing what happens later after the closing scenes, which gives the novel a sadly sweet tone instead of merely tragic Instead of simply ending with death, as a kind of negation, the book closes with sleep, part of the circling motif, the cycle we go through, our lives one passing hoop.After my initial reading of the novel, I found myself rereading it immediately, going through all of it again, underlining passages, committing certain ones to memory Over the years, I have returned again and again to this novel, than many others, much than Kundera s other novels despite my having read them repeatedly as well To return to Kundera s world is like reliving your best relationships and maybe your worst ones as well , but reliving them as though you had been smarter, wiser, deeper at the time than you really were It is a kind of exorcism and a kind of nostalgia and it is a beautiful example of writing that matters, beyond all else, writing that matters. Kundera is an unconventional writer, to say the least If you are looking for fully fleshed characters or a smooth plot, The Unbearable Lightness of Being is not for you Kundera merely uses plot and characters as tools or examples to explain his philosophy about life, and that is what this novel is all about He will provide a glimpse of his characters lives, hit the pause button and then go on to explain all about what just happened, the philosophy and psychology which drives the lives of his characters and often real lives as well In keeping with this format, the novel is fragmentary in structure It is easy to see how a reader can get annoyed at the author s getting lost in his philosophical musings so very often But if you can find some meaning in those, the novel just might work for you.Decisions and dilemmas Kundera s characters seem to searching for an elusive something, trying to find that perfect place in life where they would want to live forever However, it is difficult to know for sure the direction in which that perfect place lies If they find their current lives suffocating, going the other way could be liberating But is it worth leaving behind all that will be lost The moment they take a step ahead, they begin feeling the pull of what they had just turned their back to Often the choice is not between perfection and imperfection, it is a trade off The ability to shape our own lives, to some extent at least, is a power Sometimes it can be a burden too Specially when there is no way of knowing what waits for us at the next corner Do we choose being happy today at the expense of What ifs plaguing us tomorrow Or do we put us through an ordeal now in anticipation of it paying off in the future What if we end up in a mess, unable to turn back And therein lies the whole of man s plight Human time does not run in circles it runs ahead in a straight line That is why man cannot be happy happiness is the longing for repetition Sometimes we can find the right answers only in retrospect We can never know what we want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come Kundera speaks of the irony of human life Having only one life to live, makes the life choices difficult and onerous It is also because of this very fact of living only one life that these life choices do not have much weight in the bigger picture And it is this irony which causes the unbearable lightness of being The only thing that relieves us from this unbearable lightness are fortuitous occurences which, love it or hate it, have a say in making up our lives They human lives are composed like music Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurence Beethoven s music, death under a train into a motif , which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual s life Love Kundera does not speak of love in a poetic, all beautiful manner What happens when one of the characters packs her life in a suitcase and goes off to be with her lover Is there music in the air, fluttering butterflies No Her stomach makes a rumbling sound the moment she sees her loverbecause she hasn t eaten anything all day If a love is to be unforgettable, fortuities must immediately start fluttering down to it like birds to Francis of Assisi s shoulders Finding love does not miraculously solve all their problems Love is often accompanied by jealousy, mistrust, lies, deceit, pain Yet they do find some strength in love and do all they can to hold on to it Love is a battle, said Marie Claude, still smiling And I plan to go on fighting To the end Along with these, Kundera touches upon a few other themes as well Some of those hit the right note, while there were parts that I found trite or pretentious or simply lacking any sense Take this for example One of the characters sleeps with every other woman who crosses his path Kundera philosophizes his physical desire and explains it as a deep seated intellectual curiosity Naah, I don t buy that Then there were pretending to be deep quotes that just went over my head 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.Umm, What Another thing I found odd was that the author breaks the fourth wall and tries to be defensive about the novel He comes in and explains how he is not just telling a story, but investigating human lives He tells us that the characters are merely figments of his imagination so we shouldn t expect them to be realistic He tells us that it is wrong to chide a novel for mysterious coincidences so we shouldn t question the unrealistic events in the plot.Agreed there are some flaws, but I would have forgiven them even without the author explaining himself away. 256 Nesnesitelna lehkost byti L insoutenable le ge rete de l e tre The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan KunderaThe Unbearable Lightness of Being Czech Nesnesiteln lehkost byt is a 1984 novel by Milan Kundera, about two women, two men, a dog and their lives in the 1968 Prague Spring period of Czechoslovak history Although written in 1982, this novel was not published until two years later, in a French translation as L Insoutenable l g ret de l tre The original Czech text was published the following year 1987 2007 1365 275 20 1364 178 1381 127 20 1968 ,. 11 20 30 43 64 67 77 82 82 108 109 120 163 168 172 225 230 277 286 288 In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera tells the story of a young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing and one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover This magnificent novel juxtaposes geographically distant places, brilliant and playful reflections, and a variety of styles, to take its place as perhaps the major achievement of one of the world s truly great writers. 13% and I m done I have had a run of books that have bored me, or annoyed me, or just did nothing for me This one is You know, I don t even know how to describe this one I pretty much hated it from the first page I do not understand the high rating on Goodreads for this book I can barely stand the thought of picking it up again and reading of the words telling me things about characters that I could not possibly care less about We have Tomas, whom we meet standing on his balcony and vacillating between whether he should ask a woman that he s in love with read met in a chance encounter and became infatuated with to move in with him He s saved from making any kind of fucking decision by her showing up on his doorstep literally with her bags packed and ready to move in Which she does And then she clings to him literally every night to the point that he controls her sleep patterns He even, charmer that he is, fucks with her partially asleep mind and tells her that he s leaving her forever, so that she ll chase him and drag him back home.Tereza that s the woman I had to look up her name begins to have nightmares that he s cheating on her and forcing her to watch after finding a letter from a woman in Tomas s drawer describing that very thing So then, in the course of a sentence, we learn that Tomas has never stopped womanizing, then that he lied to Tereza about it, then tried to justify it, and now just tries to hide it from her, but won t stop And she stays He gets her a dog, because the dog will hopefully develop lesbian tendencies and love Tereza, because Tomas can t cope with her and needs help So yes, Tereza not only stays, but marries him.Why shrug The book said so So then war comes, and they relocate but after a while Tereza leaves Tomas taking the female dog that they named Karenin and now refer to using male pronouns Maybe to make Tomas feel as though Tereza has a lover as well Who knows This book is so stupid She leaves him, and I think, About frigging time There s no reason for her having decided to leave him NOW, as opposed to any day of the 7 previous years of dreading him coming home smelling of another woman, of fearing that every single woman she sees will be her husband s next conquest She decided to leave now because the book said so And then he realizes that he can t be without her, and goes to her, and she takes him back, and then he realizes he feels nothing for her but mild indigestion and pressure in his stomach and the despair of having returned I am a character reader I need characters that I can identify with, that I can understand, maybe like but these were none of those things I don t know them, I don t understand them, I don t identify with them in any way and I don t want to I just want to stop reading about them And so I did.