The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Book - 2009
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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.
A young woman is in love with a successful surgeon, a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing. His mistress, a free-spirited artist, lives her life as a series of betrayals--while her other lover, earnest, faithful, and good, stands to lose everything because of his noble qualities. In a world where lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and fortuitous events, and everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. Hence we feel "the unbearable lightness of being."
Publisher: New York : Harperperennial, [2009]
Edition: Deluxe ed
ISBN: 9780061148521
0061148520
Branch Call Number: KUNDERA M
KUNDERA M
Characteristics: 314 p. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Heim, Michael Henry

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A novel set in Russian-occupied Prague in the 70s.


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t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Mar 08, 2018

In this novel, Kundera focuses on lightness; in love, in relationships, in choices, in rebellion, and in life. He looks at a set of characters and their various lives and relationships within the Russian-occupied Prague of the early 70s. His use of recurring symbols and motifs is interesting; he, for instance, looks at the different ways people interpret and are affected by the bowling hat depicted on the cover, which is a memorable and effective method of describing the inner workings of the characters minds. He compares the idea that “it must be” to the idea that “it could just as well be otherwise”, as well as contrasting lightness with heaviness, and positive with negative; overall great job done providing various ideas and musings on these topics, leaves the reader thinking. Overall great book, some moments of repetition in the ideas aside, it was consistently entertaining and thought provoking, would recommend to anyone with an interest in any of the topics I referred to in this review; 5/5.
- @zlogan of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

c
Candaceb108
Jul 03, 2016

Wonderful book, soft and deep.

Quote from the book:
"True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists in its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental débcle, a débcle so fundamental that all others stem from it."

o
OnParWithAKeytar
Mar 18, 2015

gud buk TenOuttaTen a must reed?

s
shelleysf
Aug 18, 2012

This book snares your from its first pages. The knotted story is an enthralling one, but by the end I was wishing that there was less of Kundera's own voice in the mix--and that he was a better and more balanced writer of female characters.

s
solasistim4
Jun 23, 2012

Brilliant work, gives such a variety of perspectives to life and people.

k
kwsmith
Nov 19, 2010

The German philosopher Nietzsche introduced the idea of "eternal recurrence" (everything that happens will continue to happen over and over again). If Nietzsche's "eternal recurrence" is not true, then our actions in this world might be considered to have little meaning since they are but fleeting moments against the backdrop of eternity. In this novel, Kundera reject Nietzsche's "eternal recurrence" and thus explores an intriguing paradox: our human lives are inconsequential (what he calls "lightness") and yet "unbearable" because we want our lives to have genuine significance. Love and sex play important roles in Kundera's novel, illustrating how some of the most powerful human experiences are fleeting and result from simple coincidences.

a
alexy93
Aug 11, 2010

Standing ovation!
excellent philosophical concept: "Life occurs only once and never again — thus the “lightness” of being. Opposing Nietzsche’s concept of "eternal recurrence". What would you prefer life to be: light or heavy?

b
blolo
May 24, 2010

While some of the ideas in this book are interesting, I did not like it in general. the author uses a "meta-narrative" to reflect on the novel and its symbolism. its kinda weird.

but what REALLY made me not like it was that there are about 30 pages where the author talks about feces. does god defecate? asks the author... and then characters think of feces before orgasm. this just made me think "stop trying to be weird and edgy"

b
bobfrombob
Feb 15, 2010

I found the "fiction" of this book - the story - to be pretty average. However, the philosopical analysis of the characters and love and life and romance and relationships is very insightful. I was a lot less interested in the characters than I was about what Kundera had to say about them. Enjoyable but more thought-provoking.

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mariednguyen
Sep 27, 2013

The Unbearable Lightness of Being takes place mainly in Prague in the late 1960s and 1970s. It explores the artistic and intellectual life of Czech society during the Communist period, from the Prague Spring to the Soviet Union’s August 1968 invasion and its aftermath. The main characters are Tomáš, a surgeon; his wife Tereza, a photographer anguished by her husband's infidelities; Tomáš’s lover Sabina, a free-spirited artist; Franz, a Swiss university professor and lover of Sabina; and Šimon, Tomáš’ estranged son from an earlier marriage.

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